Head of the Division of Cancer Therapeutics, Institute of Cancer Research, London

Professor Paul Workman is Deputy Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, Harrap Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Head of its Division of Cancer Therapeutics, and Director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit – a large world leading, multidisciplinary cancer drug discovery and development centre.

Since 2005, Professor Workman’s Unit has discovered 17 new cancer drug candidates and progressed 7 of these into clinical trials. The Unit’s prostate cancer drug abiraterone was approved by the regulatory authorities in 2011.

Professor Workman's personal research laboratory, the Signal Transduction and Molecular Pharmacology Team, focuses on the molecular pharmacology and mechanism of action of innovative molecular cancer therapeutic agents and is heavily involved in the multidisciplinary drug discovery work of the Unit. Professor Workman is particularly interested in exploiting stress and chaperone pathways and also in oncogenic signal transduction pathways as targets for new drugs.

Professor Workman works closely with other colleagues in the Cancer Therapeutics Unit and ICR to identify new chemical tools and design potent, selective and innovative drug candidates. For example, his Team led the cellular and molecular pharmacology work to discover the leading HSP90 molecular chaperone inhibitor AUY922 and the leading PI3 kinase inhibitor GDC-0941, both of which are now showing promising activity in the clinic.

Professor Workman uses chemical tools and drugs alongside molecular genetic technologies to identify and validate innovative drug targets as well as predictive and mode of action biomarkers. His Team employs a combination of hypothesis-driven approaches together with genome-wide screening and chemical library strategies to investigate cancer biology and discover innovative small molecule agents that exploit the addictions, dependencies and vulnerabilities of cancer cells. Professor Workman refers to this approach as ‘Drugging the Cancer Genome’.

Professor Workman also works closely with clinical colleagues in the Unit, ICR and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to conduct the clinical assessment of new drugs in hypothesis-driven biomarker-rich clinical trials. In these trials there is strong emphasis on the use of the ‘Pharmacological Audit Trail’ that was conceptualised by Professor Workman.

Professor Workman is passionate about improving the lives of cancer patients through the discovery and development of personalised molecular medicines.

Experience

  • –present
    Head of the Division of Cancer Therapeutics, Institute for Cancer Research