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Professor Chris Lord

Deputy Head of Division and Group Leader

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Professor Chris Lord is Deputy Head of Division and the leader of the CRUK Gene Function Team, which applies concepts such as synthetic lethality and non-oncogene addiction to provide one route to identifying novel approaches to treating cancer. Group: Gene Function
+44 20 7153 5190 ORCID 0000-0002-3226-0515


Professor Chris Lord is Deputy Head of Division, Team Leader of the CRUK Gene Function Laboratory and Professor of Cancer Genomics in the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre at The Institute of Cancer Research, London. Much of his work focuses on exploiting genetic concepts such as synthetic lethality to identify new approaches to treating cancer and to understand the variable effectiveness of existing treatments.

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Chris started his career with PhD training in disease genetics with John Todd and Richard Gardner at the University of Oxford before carrying out a Postdoctoral Fellowship with Todd at the University of Cambridge. Chris joined the ICR London as a Postdoctoral Fellow with Alan Ashworth in 2000, where he was joint first author on a paper describing the synthetic lethal interaction between BRCA-tumour suppressor genes and PARP inhibitors (Nature 2005), observations that eventually led to the use of these drugs for the treatment of breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

Later, Chris exploited high-throughput genetic perturbation screens to understand a variety of cancer-related phenotypes including drug sensitivity/resistance and the identification of novel therapeutic targets (e.g. Cancer Cell 2008, Cancer Discov. 2011), a number of which are now being investigated as part of new drug development programmes. Chris has also used multiple approaches to uncover and/or understand clinically-relevant mechanisms of resistance to DNA repair inhibitors (e.g. Nat Commun. 2018, Cancer Discov. 2020) and to identify novel synthetic lethal approaches that target hard-to-treat cancers, including those with ARID1A, Rb or E-cadherin defects (e.g. Cancer Discov. 2018).

More recently, Chris has focused on using high-throughput genetic perturbation screens to understand the principles that govern the robustness of synthetic lethal interactions (e.g. Elife 2020). The impact of the work led by Lord is demonstrated by the multiple biomarkers of drug sensitivity/resistance and novel synthetic lethal approaches to the treatment of ARID1A, Rb or E-cadherin defective cancers now being assessed in clinical trials.

Disclosure information. CJL is an inventor on patents describing the use of PARP inhibitors and stands to gain from their development as part of the ICR’s “Rewards to Inventors” scheme. CJL has received research funding, honoraria, consultancy or advisory board payments from the following: Sun Pharma, Vertex Ltd., 3rd Rock, Horizon Discovery, Gerson Lehrman Group, Guidepoint, Abingworth, Astra Zeneca, Merck KGaA, Artios, Ono Pharma, Tango Therapeutics and LEK. CJL owns shares in Tango Therapeutics.

Chris Lord is a member of the Cancer Research UK Convergence Science Centre, which brings together leading researchers in engineering, physical sciences, life sciences and medicine to develop innovative ways to address challenges in cancer.

Convergence Science Centre