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Division of Clinical Studies

The Division of Clinical Studies carries out or coordinates high-quality trials and translational research at both an early phase – typically to test new targeted drugs – and a later stage. It overlaps with the Drug Development Unit, run jointly by The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, and houses the Cancer Research UK-funded ICR Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit (ICR-CTSU).

Abiraterone, a drug used to treat advanced prostate cancer was discovered and developed at the ICR

The division incorporates experts from medicine, paediatrics, haematology and surgery, along with statisticians and specialists in clinical trial design. Its multidisciplinary set-up allows it to develop clinical trial protocols for targeted drugs and technologies across multiple tumour types, in both adults and children.

The Drug Development Unit is one of the world’s leading centres for phase I trials in cancer, and treats around 300 patients each year. It aims to seamlessly bring together preclinical drug discovery, proof-of-principle phase I trials and tumour-specific evaluation of novel agents. Many of these clinical trials are focused on molecularly targeted treatments, matched to the particular molecular features of a patient’s tumour. The eventual aim is to provide fully personalised medicine, tailored to exploit the specific weaknesses of a patient’s tumour at that point in time. The conduct of the Pharmacodynamic Audit Trail (PhAT) is central to the studies run in this unit, which is also focused on developing novel biomarkers, triple signs and the optimal study of drug combinations.

The ICR-CTSU is a research led, academic trials unit established in the 1980s. The main objective of the ICR-CTSU is to lead the design, conduct and analysis of multi-centre national and international randomised controlled clinical trials of cancer treatments which will directly influence routine clinical practice within the NHS and worldwide.

Its trials form an important part of the national portfolio of randomised trials in breast cancer, urological cancers, head and neck cancers and radiotherapy techniques. It is also increasingly involved in exploratory and adaptive phase II targeted treatment trials and trials in rarer tumour groups.

Researchers in the Division of Clinical Studies were recently closely involved in the development of abiraterone, which has now been approved for use in the NHS for men with advanced prostate cancer. As well as developing new treatments, the division also conduct trials in which biomarkers are used to identify and target specific cancer types.

Members of Faculty are joint appointed with the divisions of Cancer Biology, Cancer Therapeutics or Radiology and Imaging to ensure scientific and technical developments are rapidly taken through to the clinic. This division is also totally committed to the training of the next generation of clinician-scientists and statisticians.

Head of Division

Professor Johann de Bono

Professor Johann de Bono

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.

Research teams

Clinical and Translational Sarcoma

Team leader: Professor Winette van der Graaf

Professor Winette van der Graaf is Team Leader in Clinical and Translational Sarcoma research and Professor of Personalised Oncology. She is an international expert in research on sarcomas and also does research on age-related aspects of cancer. She is investigating new targets and treatment combinations in sarcomas to improve the outcome of patients affected by these rare tumours.

Gynaecological Oncology Surgery

Team leader: Thomas Ind

Dr Thomas Ind’s team includes a group of highly motivated gynaecological oncology surgeons keen to further the science of gynaecological oncology surgery.

ICR-CTSU Breast and Rare Cancers

Team leader: Professor Judith Bliss

Professor Judith Bliss’ team is part of the Cancer Research UK funded Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit (ICR-CTSU) and carries out clinical trials for the treatment of early and late-stage breast cancer and melanomas.

ICR-CTSU Urology and Head and Neck trials

Team leader: Professor Emma Hall

Dr Emma Hall’s Urology and Head and Neck Trials Team carries out clinical trials for the treatment of prostate, testicular, bladder, and head and neck cancers.

Medicine (de Bono) Drug Development Unit

Team leader: Professor Johann de Bono

Professor Johann de Bono's Drug Development Unit is responsible for early clinical trials of novel cancer drugs.

Melanoma and Kidney Cancer

Team leader: Dr James Larkin

The Melanoma and Kidney Cancer Team works to conceive and conduct clinical trials to increase understanding of the biology of these diseases and develop better treatments for them.

Paediatric Solid Tumour Biology and Therapeutics

Team leader: Professor Louis Chesler

Dr Louis Chesler’s Paediatric Tumour Biology Team is investigating the genetic causes for the childhood cancers, neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma.

Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group

Team leader: Professor Johann de Bono

Professor Johann de Bono’s Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group investigates new molecular targeted therapies to improve the treatment of patients with advanced prostate cancer.

Sarcoma Clinical Trials

Team leader: Professor Winette van der Graaf

Professor Winette van der Graaf’s Sarcoma Clinical Trials Unit carries out phase II/III clinical trials for the treatment of sarcomas.

Sarcoma Clinical Trials (R Jones)

Team leader: Dr Robin Jones

The Sarcoma Clinical Trials Team conducts phase I, II and III sarcoma clinical trials with an emphasis on translational studies and immunotherapy.

Sarcoma Clinical Trials in Children and Young People

Team leader: Dr Julia Chisholm

Sarcoma Clinical Trials in Children and Young People is a clinically orientated team that delivers clinical trials in soft tissue sarcoma in collaboration with the Sarcoma Molecular Pathology Team and the Sarcoma Clinical Trials Team.

Thoracic Oncology

Team leader: Dr Sanjay Popat

The Thoracic Oncology team conducts clinical trials to identify and develop new drugs for patients with thoracic malignancies, to identify biomarkers of those most likely to benefit, and translational studies to better understand how these cancers develop.

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