Harpal Kumar

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Harpal Kumar
Harpal Kumar Z6Q6532 RT(1).jpg
Born1965 (age 55–56)
Alma mater

Sir Harpal Singh Kumar (Punjabi: ਹਾਰਪਾਲ ਸਿੰਘ ਕੁਮਾਰ, born 1965) is a British medical researcher who was the chief executive officer of Cancer Research UK[1][2][3] until June 2018,[4] when he left the charity to become Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation EMEA.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Kumar's parents were refugees. As Sikhs, they chose to leave what was to become Pakistan and move to India, where they ended up in refugee camps. Later they moved to England, where his father was employed sweeping factory floors, before eventually starting his own grocery store.[6]

Kumar attended Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith, and St. John's College, Cambridge, where he gained a Master of Engineering degree and a Master of Arts degree and won the Mobil Prize, Metal Box Prize, and Hughes Prize. He subsequently gained a Master of Business Administration degree with High Distinction as a Baker Scholar at Harvard Business School where he won the Ford Prize and the Wolfe Prize.[7][8]


After graduation, Kumar was employed by McKinsey and Co. as a healthcare consultant. In 1992 he was appointed chief executive of the disability charity the Papworth Trust.[9] In 1997 he founded Nexan Group, a venture capital-backed medical devices company.[9] He joined Cancer Research Technology Limited as chief executive in 2002 and became chief operating officer of Cancer Research UK in 2004. He became chief executive officer in April 2007[8] and led the charity for more than a decade before departing for Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

Among his other roles, Kumar is a trustee of the Francis Crick Institute and the Institute for Cancer Research, and chairman of the Board of the National Cancer Research Institute. He is also chairman of the Cancer Outcomes Strategy Advisory Group in England and co-chair of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative,[8] the senior Senior Independent Director of Innovate UK and a board member of UK Research and Innovation. [10]

On 10 April 2020 GRAIL Inc. announced Kumar's appointment as President of GRAIL Europe.[11]

Awards and honours[edit]

Kumar was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to cancer research.[12][13]

Personal life[edit]

Kumar lists his recreations as theatre, opera and football.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Caroline Crampton interviews Harpal Kumar about cigarette marketing. Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine Total Politics.
  2. ^ Five minutes with Dr Harpal Kumar of Cancer Research UK. theguardian.
  3. ^ NCRI Cancer Conference (21 May 2013). "Dr Harpal Kumar talks about the work of the NCRI partnership" – via YouTube.
  4. ^ "Sir Harpal Kumar to leave Cancer Research UK next year | UK Fundraising". UK Fundraising. 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  5. ^ "Sir Harpal Kumar". JNJ Innovation. 2018-09-10. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  6. ^ Werdigier, Julia (6 January 2013). "Judging What's Important". New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Harpal Singh KUMAR" Debrett's People of Today. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Chief Executive and Executive Board. Cancer Research UK. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Charity events - trustee training - Harpal Kumar".
  10. ^ "Sir Harpal Kumar - UK Research and Innovation". www.ukri.org. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  11. ^ "GRAIL Appoints Sir Harpal Kumar as President of GRAIL Europe". grail.com. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  12. ^ "No. 61450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N2.
  13. ^ "New Year's Honours 2016 list" (pdf). GOV.UK. 30 December 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.