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Professor Johann de Bono

Head of Division and Team Leader

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Professor Johann de Bono is Head of the Division of Clinical Studies and an international expert in the development of molecularly targeted cancer therapies against adult cancers. He runs one of the world’s largest phase I clinical trials units for cancer and has also led phase III trials of the prostate cancer drugs abiraterone and cabazitaxel. Team: Medicine (de Bono) Drug Development Unit Team: Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group Team: 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 laboratory team.

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He graduated from the University of Glasgow medical school in 1989, graduating 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.

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.

In 2003, Professor de Bono was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and 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 team’s work in developing abiraterone.

In 2015, he was named among the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds”, and in July 2016 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 has been involved in the development of many novel agents, many of which are now approved drugs, functioning as chief investigator on phase I trials such as abiraterone, olaparib and afatinib.

He has served as chief investigator of multiple drugs, including abiraterone, cabazitaxel, enzalutamide, that have changed the standard of care for prostate cancer patients. He has led on the study of circulating tumour cells, whole blood expression profiling and plasma DNA in metastatic prostate cancer patients and pioneered the concept of patient molecular stratification in early clinical trials in the Pharmacological Audit Trail.

As well as research, Professor de Bono is involved in training and supervising PhD and MD(Res) research students.

He has published more than 400 scientifically peer-reviewed manuscripts in journals including The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, Lancet OncologyNature, Nature Cancer Reviews, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research and Cancer Research.

Professor de Bono has received many awards during his career including a Cancer Research Campaign PhD Clinical Research Fellowship, American Society of Clinical Oncology Merit and Young Investigator Awards, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinician Scientist Award and a Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Travel Award.

He holds editorial roles at peer-reviewed journals and is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. He has served as the UK ESMO representative and has served on the ESMO Board of Directors as well as on the National Cancer Research Institute Prostate Cancer Clinical Studies Group.

Professor de Bono was the Scientific Programme Chair of the ESMO Annual meeting in 2014 and the Co-Chair of the AACR Annual Meeting in 2015. He leads the ICR and The Royal Marsden Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and the Movember London Prostate Cancer Centre of Excellence.

Professor de Bono is married to Hazel, a Scottish GP, and has three children. He enjoys jazz, blues and classical music, playing football and watching Liverpool FC, as well as cycling, hill-walking and chess.