Alan Ashworth, FRS (born 1960 in Bolton, Lancashire) is a British molecular biologist/ Professor of Molecular Biology, noted for his work on genes involved in cancer susceptibility. He is the Team Leader of the Gene Function team in the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre  and CEO of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).
Ashworth was educated at St Mary's Primary School and Thornleigh Salesion College, Bolton. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Imperial College, London, and achieved his PhD in Biochemistry at University College, London. He joined The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in 1986 and was appointed its CEO in September 2010.
Ashworth joined the ICR in 1986 as a Post Doctoral Scientist in the Section of Cell and Molecular Biology and in 1999 he was appointed the first Director of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre (BBCRC). The Centre is now recognized internationally and has more than 120 scientists and researchers working on aspects of the disease ranging from basic molecular and cellular biology through to translational research and clinical trials. Ashworth's Directorship ended in January 2011 when he took up the position of Chief Executive of the ICR
One of Ashworth's major contributions to cancer research has been his work on genes involved in cancer risk. He was a key part of the team that in 1995 discovered the gene BRCA2, which is linked to an increased risk of some types of cancers / which is now used to identify women at high risk of the disease. Ten years later, Ashworth identified a way to exploit genetic weaknesses in cancer cells including mutated BRCA 1 or BRCA2, leading to a new approach to cancer treatment. Cancer cells that carry mutant forms of BRCA1 or BRCA2 are highly sensitive to a class of drugs known as PARP inhibitors. Early results from clinical trials of PARP inhibitors are considered to be important and promising.
Ashworth's current research reflects his passion for the development of personalised cancer medicine, translating laboratory studies into improvements in patient care. He is also joint leader, with Professor Tony Swerdlow, of one of the world's most comprehensive and largest (>100,000 participants), studies of breast cancer causation, the Breakthrough Generations Study (http://www.breakthroughgenerations.org.uk).
Awards and recognition
- 1991 British Postgraduate Medical Federation Prize
- 1999 Elected to European Molecular Biology Organization.
- 2002 Elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences 
- 2008 Fellow of the Royal Society.
- 2009 European Society for Medical Oncology Lifetime Achievement Award 
- 2009 Elected Fellow of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences 
- 2010 Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation David Workman Memorial Award 
- 2010 Meyenburg Foundation Cancer Research Award 
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