Professor Udai Banerji champions multidisciplinary working at the interface between early phase clinical trials, drug discovery and translational research related to drug resistance.
He is a key member of the Cancer Therapeutics Unit, providing early clinical insights into areas of unmet need and clinical relevance during target prioritisation. He leads the Clinical Pharmacodynamics Biomarker Group, which plays a crucial role in transferring pharmacodynamic biomarkers used in drug discovery on to platforms that can be used in clinical trials.
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Professor Banerji is the Deputy Director of the Drug Development Unit which straddles The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. He leads academic studies sponsored by the ICR and Cancer Research UK and trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.
He is a passionate advocate of the Pharmacological Audit Trial and focuses on hypothesis testing, biomarker-enriched first-in-human clinical trials crucial in making go-no-go decisions in early phase clinical trials and accelerating the development of active anticancer drugs.
As well as working to optimise the dose, schedules and predictive biomarkers, he also runs the Clinical Pharmacology Adaptive Therapy Group which focuses on translational proteomic approaches to study drug resistance and methods of overcoming resistance using a combination therapies in clinical trials.
Professor Banerji has multiple collaborations within the ICR, including the Computational Biology and Chemogenomics (led by Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani), the pharmacological effects on evolution (Dr Andrea Sottoriva), the use of proteomics to study drug resistance (Dr Jyoti Choudhary and Dr Paul Huang), the use of PET and MRS as pharmacodynamic biomarkers (Professor Wim Oyen and Professor Martin Leach) and exploiting the use of ultrasound in cancer therapy (Professor Jeff Bamber and Professor Gail Ter Haar).
On completion of his training in basic medicine (MBBS) at the University of Calicut, India, in 1991 and in internal medicine (MD, DNB) at the University of Bombay in 1994, Professor Banerji moved to the UK to work in oncology, qualifying in internal medicine (MRCP) in 2000.
He joined the ICR in 2000 as a clinical fellow as part of their PhD programme and was awarded his PhD (University of London) in 2005. He started his training in medical oncology at The Royal Marsden in 2003 and was awarded his Certificate of Completion of Training in Medical Oncology in 2007. He joined the ICR as a Career Development Faculty and an honorary consultant at The Royal Marsden in 2007.
In 2012, he was confirmed as Faculty of the ICR and was awarded his Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP). He was confirmed as a Cancer Research UK Reader in 2013 and as an NIHR Professor of Molecular Cancer Pharmacology in 2018.
As a phase I physician, he has led the clinical development of first-in-human studies of a range of anticancer drugs developed at the ICR, including: luminespib (HSP90 inhibitor); CHR-3996 (HDAC inhibitor); AT13148 (ROCKI/II inhibitor); AZD5363 (AKT inhibitor); BAL3833 (pan-RAF inhibitor); ONX-0801 (alpha folate targeted TS inhibitor); SRA737 (CHK1 inhibitor) and BOS722 (MPS1 inhibitor). He has been a principal investigator and a sub-investigator in over 35 and 100 first-in-human studies, respectively.
In addition to being responsible for the clinical management of patients he has been involved in the pharmacodynamic biomarker development of many of these drugs as the head of the Clinical Pharmacodynamics Biomarker Group. He works closely with Dr Florence Raynaud in the Drug Metabolism Pharmacokinetic (DMPK) Group to interpret and use pharmacokinetic data and study pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic models.
He runs pharmaceutically sponsored studies and is also passionate about investigator-initiated clinical trials sponsored by the ICR, as well as charities, such as Cancer Research UK. A number of these investigator-initiated studies have been the basis of further evaluation of these drugs by other academic routes such as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
His focus on the re-wiring of signal transduction as a mechanism of drug resistance and its use in designing clinical trials led to the award of a 5-year NIHR Research Professorship in 2017. It has also led to the development of clinical protocols evaluating combinations therapy (TAX-TORC and FRAME studies) run through the national Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) networks.
Professor Banerji was part of the ICR team awarded the AACR Team Science award in 2012 and the Cancer Research UK Translational Research award in 2013.