Main Menu

Professor Johann De Bono

Head of Division and Group Leader

The alt text
Professor Johann de Bono is the Head of the Division of Clinical Studies and an international expert in the development of novel anticancer therapies against adult cancers. His group of runs one of the world’s largest phase I clinical trials units for cancer, with >100 staff including dedicated radiology and pathology staff; he also runs a separate group focused on improving prostate cancer care that have led pivotal phase III trials of several prostate cancer drugs including abiraterone, cabazitaxel, enzalutamide and olaparib as well more recently ipatasertib and lutetium-PSMA. Group: The Adult Drug Development Unit at the ICR and the RM Group: Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group Group: Cancer Biomarkers ORCID 0000-0002-2034-595X


Professor Johann de Bono is Regius Professor of Cancer Research and a Professor in Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. He is also the Director of the Drug Development Unit, overseeing the conduct of phase I trials, with a particular interest in innovative trial designs, circulating biomarkers and prostate cancer. Additionally, he leads the Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group and the Cancer Biomarkers group.

See all news stories on our website that feature the work of Professor de Bono and colleagues. 

Read news

Education and training: He graduated from the University of Glasgow medical school in 1989,  as a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) in 1992. He was awarded a four-year Cancer Research Campaign Clinical Fellowship, which allowed him to pursue a PhD between 1993–97. Following his PhD, he trained in medical oncology and was awarded an MSc (Cancer Sciences) from the University of Glasgow. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow then awarded him a travelling scholarship that allowed him to pursue further research on the challenges of clinical trial design at the SWOG statistical headquarters at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Centre in Seattle, US, in 1999. Between 2000–03, he then pursued further research developing novel anti-cancer drugs at the Institute for Drug Development within the University of Texas Health Science Centre at San Antonio, Texas. He joined the Institute of Cancer Research, London, in 2003.

Honours and awards: Professor de Bono has received many other awards during his career including a Cancer Research Campaign PhD Clinical Research Fellowship, American Society of Clinical Oncology Merit and Young Investigator Awards, a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinician-Scientist Award, and a Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Travel Award. In 2003, Professor de Bono was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London) and of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. In 2009, he was elected as a Member of the Malta Order of Merit. He received the prestigious European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Award in 2012 and was part of the ICR/Royal Marsden team awarded the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Team Science Award. He also received an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry for his group’s work in developing abiraterone, as well as the 2018 AACR – Joseph H. Burcheval Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research.

In July 2016 he was named as Regius Professor of Cancer Research – a rare award bestowed by the Sovereign by Royal Warrant to recognise exceptionally high-quality research at an institution, and the first such Professorship devoted to cancer.

Professor de Bono is also a key opinion leader in the development of novel cancer therapies, and co-founded and now runs The Royal Marsden Drug Development Unit, one of the world’s largest such trials units for cancer patients. He has been involved in the development of many novel agents, many of which are now approved drugs.

He is a world leader in prostate cancer research, having changed the treatment of prostate cancer multiple times through trials of the ICR-discovered drug abirateronecabazitaxel, enzalutamide and olaparib. He also led on the identification of germline and somatic DNA repair defects in lethal prostate cancer, and co-led studies mapping the genomics of these diseases. His work has changed international guidelines on germline testing in men with advanced prostate cancer and the first molecular stratification for this commonest of male cancers. He has also recently led studies of pembrolizumab, talazoparib, ipatasertib and lutetium-PSMA for men suffering from advanced prostate cancer. 

His laboratory has led on the study of liquid biopsies in advanced prostate cancer including circulating tumour cells, whole blood expression profiling, and plasma circulating tumour DNA in metastatic prostate cancer patients. He helped to pioneer the concept of patient molecular stratification in early clinical trials through the Pharmacological Audit Trial.

As well as research, Professor de Bono is involved in training and supervising PhD and MD(Res) research students. He has published more than 500 scientifically peer-reviewed manuscripts in journals including The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, Lancet Oncology, Nature, Nature Cancer Reviews, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research and Cancer Research. He has held editorial roles at multiple peer-reviewed journals and was the Scientific Programme Chair of the ESMO annual meeting in 2014, the Clinical Program Co-Chair of the AACR Annual Meetings in 2015 and 2016, the UK National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Annual Meeting 2016 and 2017 Deputy Chair and Chair, the Prostate AACR 2017 meeting Scientific Chair, and the ESMO Targeted Anticancer Therapy (TAT) Scientific Programme Chair. He leads the ICR and The Royal Marsden Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and the Movember London Prostate Cancer Centre of Excellence.