Alan Ashworth

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Alan Ashworth
Born1960 (age 63–64)
Bolton, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Alma mater
Scientific career
ThesisCloning and characterisation of cDNAs derived from cytochrome P-450 mRNAs (1984)
Doctoral studentsElizabeth Iorns[1]

Alan Ashworth, FRS (born 1960 in Bolton, Lancashire) is a British molecular biologist, noted for his work on genes involved in cancer susceptibility. He is currently the President of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco, a multidisciplinary research and clinical care organisation that is one of the largest cancer centres in the Western United States.[2] He was previously CEO of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London.[3]

Early life[edit]

Ashworth was educated at St Mary's Primary School and Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Imperial College, London, and was awarded a PhD in Biochemistry at University College, London.[4]


Ashworth joined the Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) in London in 1986 as a Postdoctoral research 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).[5] The Centre is now recognised 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.[5] Ashworth's Directorship ended in January 2011 when he took up the position of Chief Executive of the ICR which he held until December 2014.[6]

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 BRCA2 gene,[7][8][9][10] which is linked to an increased risk of some types of cancers[11]/ 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 work on Poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) as a drug target for cancer.[12][13]

Ashworth's research and leadership reflects his passion for translating laboratory studies into improvements in patient care, particularly by the development of personalised cancer medicine.[14][15]

In 2014, Ashworth stepped down as Director of the ICR to join the University of California, San Francisco as President of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (HDFCCC) and Senior Vice-President of Cancer Services of UCSF Health from January 2015.[16] He also serves as Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine and holds the E. Dixon Heise Distinguished Professorship in Oncology.[17]

In 2016, Ashworth and Pamela Munster, MD, established the UCSF Center for BRCA Research. In November 2016 he started the San Francisco Cancer Initiative (SF CAN). In 2017, he became inaugural chair of the University of California Cancer Consortium.

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ Tansey, Bernadette (29 November 2012). "Xconomy: Science Exchange Creates a Trading Post for Research Services". Xconomy. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Research profiles: Professor Alan Ashworth FRS". UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  3. ^ "Management structure". The Institute of Cancer Research. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b "Leading Scientist Professor Alan Ashworth to Receive Prestigious Award for Cancer Discoveries". Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2010.
  6. ^ "Professor Alan Ashworth starts as CEO". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  7. ^ Roth, S; Kristo, P; Auranen, A; Shayehgi, M; Seal, S; Collins, N; Barfoot, R; Rahman, N; Klemi, P. J.; Grénman, S; Sarantaus, L; Nevanlinna, H; Butzow, R; Ashworth, A; Stratton, M. R.; Aaltonen, L. A. (1998). "A missense mutation in the BRCA2 gene in three siblings with ovarian cancer". British Journal of Cancer. 77 (8): 1199–202. doi:10.1038/bjc.1998.202. PMC 2150153. PMID 9579822.
  8. ^ Connor, F; Smith, A; Wooster, R; Stratton, M; Dixon, A; Campbell, E; Tait, T. M.; Freeman, T; Ashworth, A (1997). "Cloning, chromosomal mapping and expression pattern of the mouse Brca2 gene". Human Molecular Genetics. 6 (2): 291–300. doi:10.1093/hmg/6.2.291. PMID 9063750.
  9. ^ Bignell, G; Micklem, G; Stratton, M. R.; Ashworth, A; Wooster, R (1997). "The BRC repeats are conserved in mammalian BRCA2 proteins". Human Molecular Genetics. 6 (1): 53–8. doi:10.1093/hmg/6.1.53. PMID 9002670.
  10. ^ Lancaster, J. M.; Wooster, R; Mangion, J; Phelan, C. M.; Cochran, C; Gumbs, C; Seal, S; Barfoot, R; Collins, N; Bignell, G; Patel, S; Hamoudi, R; Larsson, C; Wiseman, R. W.; Berchuck, A; Iglehart, J. D.; Marks, J. R.; Ashworth, A; Stratton, M. R.; Futreal, P. A. (1996). "BRCA2 mutations in primary breast and ovarian cancers". Nature Genetics. 13 (2): 238–40. doi:10.1038/ng0696-238. PMID 8640235. S2CID 26808443.
  11. ^ Wooster, R.; Bignell, G.; Lancaster, J.; Swift, S.; Seal, S.; Mangion, J.; Collins, N.; Gregory, S.; Gumbs, C.; Micklem, G.; Barfoot, R.; Hamoudi, R.; Patel, S.; Rices, C.; Biggs, P.; Hashim, Y.; Smith, A.; Connor, F.; Arason, A.; Gudmundsson, J.; Ficenec, D.; Kelsell, D.; Tonin, P.; Timothy Bishop, D.; Spurr, N. K.; Ponder, B. A. J.; Eeles, R.; Peto, J.; Devilee, P.; Cornelisse, C. (1995). "Identification of the breast cancer susceptibility gene BRCA2". Nature. 378 (6559): 789–792. Bibcode:1995Natur.378..789W. doi:10.1038/378789a0. PMID 8524414. S2CID 4346791.
  12. ^ Cressey, D (2010). "Translational research: Talking up translation: Alan Ashworth took a cancer drug from Petri dish to patients in near record speed". Nature. 463 (7280): 422–3. Bibcode:2010Natur.463..422C. doi:10.1038/463422a. PMID 20110964.
  13. ^ Wooster, R.; Neuhausen, S.; Mangion, J.; Quirk, Y.; Ford, D.; Collins, N.; Nguyen, K.; Seal, S.; Tran, T.; Averill, D.; Et, A. (1994). "Localization of a breast cancer susceptibility gene, BRCA2, to chromosome 13q12-13". Science. 265 (5181): 2088–2090. Bibcode:1994Sci...265.2088W. doi:10.1126/science.8091231. PMID 8091231.
  14. ^ Cressey, Daniel (27 January 2010). "Translational research: Talking up translation". Nature News. 463 (7280): 422–423. Bibcode:2010Natur.463..422C. doi:10.1038/463422a. PMID 20110964.
  15. ^ "Breakthrough Generations". Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Acclaimed British Scientist Alan Ashworth Is Named Director of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center". University of California, San Francisco. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015.
  17. ^ "Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS – UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center". Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Find an EMBO member (searchable database of members)". EMBO. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  19. ^ "Fellows: Professor Alan Ashworth FRS FMedSci". The Academy of Medical Science. Archived from the original on 20 August 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  20. ^ "New Fellows 08 Agarwal – Cohen – New Fellows 2008 – The Royal Society". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  21. ^ "awardees". ESMO. Archived from the original on 29 August 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  22. ^ "Directory of Fellows". European Academy of Cancer Sciences. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012.
  23. ^ "Press release: Alan Ashworth To Receive Award for His Breakthrough Work in Breast Cancer". Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  24. ^ "2010 Meyenburg Award for Discoverer of BRCA 2 Breast Cancer Gene". Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  25. ^ "Penn's Basser Research Center for BRCA Names UK Breast Cancer Researcher Alan Ashworth Winner of First Annual Basser Global Prize – PR News". Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  26. ^ "Ashworth Receives Award from Cancer Nonprofit". UC San Francisco. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  27. ^ "International Symposium on Molecular Medicine & Infectious Disease Prize Winners – College of Medicine". Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  28. ^ "Board of Directors". Archived from the original on 6 April 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  29. ^ "Brinker Awards". Susan G. Komen. Retrieved 15 December 2017.

External links[edit]