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Professor Rajesh Chopra

Head of Division and Team Leader

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Professor Rajesh Chopra is an experienced scientist and clinical leader who has discovered and developed novel cancer therapies, including molecularly targeted and cellular approaches. He is Head of the Division of Cancer Therapeutics and Director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit, and his main areas of expertise are in haematological oncology, solid tumour biology, transplantation and cell therapies. Team: Translational Cancer Discovery
020 8722 4301 ORCID 0000-0002-8335-5047


Professor Raj Chopra trained in Medicine at University College London. He then completed his training in general medicine at major teaching hospitals in London, gaining Membership of the Royal College of Physicians.

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He undertook a PhD in cell signaling and growth receptors followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. Subsequently, he set up his own research group in Stem Cell and Leukemia Biology at the Cancer Research UK, Manchester Institute. He was also appointed Director of Hematological Oncology, leading one of the largest Bone Marrow Transplant and Leukemia Programs in Europe at the Christie Hospital in Manchester.

From 2004–09, he was part of the leadership team for the largest Oncology group in AstraZeneca and established Translational Medicine for AstraZeneca in Boston, Massachusetts, US. He was involved in taking six small molecules and two antibodies from discovery into clinical trials.

From 2009–16, he was a leader within the Executive R&D Team and Corporate Vice President of Translational and Early Drug Development at Celgene Corporation, Summit, New Jersey, US, where he led a team of over 100 scientists in San Diego, San Francisco and Seville, and a team of clinicians involved in taking agents from discovery to proof-of-concept clinical trials in oncology and immune/inflammatory disease, as well as stem cell therapies.

These teams were responsible for taking nine small molecule and one antibody projects into early clinical trials in healthy volunteers and patients.

Professor Chopra was also involved in the New Drug Applications for pomalidomide (a second generation IMiD agent) and a premilast (a PDE4 inhibitor). Both drugs were approved in 2013 and 2014 respectively. He also led the team that worked the mechanism of action of thalidomide and its analogues leading to the discovery of Aiolos, Ikaros and Caosin kinase1a as neo-substrates of the CUL4CRBN E-3 ligase family.

He has been a member of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Molecular and Cell Biology Board and the MRC Stem Cell Committee.

He has extensive experience of successful partnering with biotech. In addition, he has been a Non-Executive Director for e-Therapeutics (Oxford, UK) and has been on the Board of Agios (Boston, Massachusetts, US).

In January 2016, he moved back to the UK to take up the position as Director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit and Head of the Division of Cancer Therapeutics.

He is currently a member of the Cancer Research UK Drug Discovery Committee and of the Scientific Board of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).