Paul Workman (scientist)

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Paul Workman
Born 1952
Workington, Cumbria, England
Nationality British
Occupation Scientist
Known for Cancer drugs

Paul Workman FMedSci is a British scientist noted for his work on the discovery and development of new cancer drugs.[1]

Workman, Harrap Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, is Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR), Head of its Division of Cancer Therapeutics and Director of its Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Workman (born 1952 in Workington, Cumbria) was educated at Workington County Grammar School, Cumbria, and completed his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and his PhD in Cancer Pharmacology at the University of Leeds. He later received an Honorary DSc from the University of Leicester, in 2009.


The early part of his career (1976–90) was spent establishing and leading the Pharmacology and New Drug Development Laboratory at the Medical Research Council's Clinical Oncology Unit at the University of Cambridge, where he developed new treatments to exploit hypoxic cells in solid tumours and elucidated the enzymes involved in the activation of hypoxia-targeted drugs.[4]

In 1990 Workman spent a sabbatical period in the Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Stanford University and SRI International, California, USA where he continued his work on tumour hypoxia funded by a Fellowship from what was then the International Union Against Cancer. In collaboration with scientists at SRI International he was co-inventor of an imaging agent to detect tumour hypoxia.,[5] for which he later demonstrated proof of concept in the clinic.[6]

In 1991 Workman was appointed as a Cancer Research Campaign (CRC) Life Fellow, Professor of Experimental Cancer Therapy, University of Glasgow and Director of Laboratory Research in the CRC Department of Medical Oncology, CRC Beatson Laboratories, Glasgow.[7] Here he extended his research on tumour hypoxia and molecular targeted therapies. Workman also continued his service for the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) as Chairman of the EORTC Pharmacology and Molecular Mechanisms Group. Member of EORTC Board and Council as Chairman of the EORTC New Drug Development Coordinating Committee.[8][9]

In 1993 Workman joined Zeneca Pharmaceuticals (now AstraZeneca) where he was responsible for the Cancer Bioscience Section ,[10] establishing new drug discovery projects and leading the kinase research collaboration with Sugen[11] Work in this role led to the development of one of the first targeted medicines gefitinib (Iressa™), which was later approved for use in non-small cell lung cancer in 2003.[12]

Workman joined the ICR in 1997 to develop its Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit.[4] Workman's team collaborates with The Royal Marsden to bring new treatments to patients through clinical trials.[13] Prostate cancer drug abiraterone, which was approved for use in the US and Europe in 2011, was developed by Workman's Cancer Therapeutics Unit.[2] Overall, since 2005, the Cancer Therapeutic Unit has discovered 17 drug candidates, seven of which have progressed to the patient trial stage. Workman has attributed this record to "taking early academic risks, combining academic and pharmaceutical expertise, and implementing strong leadership and project management. Other contributing factors include running multiple projects on a competitive scale, establishing long-term financial support and – most important – selecting productive and timely industrial collaborations."[14] Income from these drugs has helped push The Institute of Cancer Research into second place, behind the University of Cambridge, for income earned from intellectual property. Adjusted for size, the organisation ranks first among UK higher education institutions for IP income.[15]

Workman was appointed Deputy CEO of the ICR in March 2011[4] and became Chief Executive in November 2014.[3]

He has published over 560 research articles,[16] and, together with his team, was awarded the American Association of Cancer Research Team Science Award in 2012 for achievements in drug discovery.[17][18] Workman received the Royal Society of Chemistry 2012 Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his success at taking pioneering cancer drugs from the laboratory into commercial development.[19]

Research on Phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitors, led by Workman and Dr. Florence Raynaud at the ICR, was selected as one of 16 studies to have had the greatest impact on patients, according to the American Association of Cancer Research journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.[20] The leading PI3 kinase drug discovered in their collaboration with Piramed was licensed to Genentech as GDC-0941 (pictilsib) and is undergoing Phase II clinical trials.[21]

Workman is currently working on drugs that block molecules essential for the growth and survival of cancer cells, in particular, molecular chaperones such as Hsp90.[22] The leading Hsp90 inhibitor was discovered by Workman's team at ICR in collaboration with Vernalis.[23] It was licensed to Novartis as AUY922 and has demonstrated activity in Phase II clinical trials in non-small cell lung cancer[24] and HER2 positive breast cancer .[25] Workman's research on HSP90 work led to his receiving the 2010 Royal Society of Chemistry George and Christine Sosnovsky Award in Cancer Therapy[26] and the 2013 CRUK Translational Research Prize.[27]

He is also founder of biotechnology companies Chroma Therapeutics[28] and Piramed Pharma, which was sold to Roche in 2008.[29][30]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • 1991 appointed a Cancer Research UK Life Fellow[31]
  • 2002 elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences[32]
  • 2010 elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry[33]
  • 2010 received the Royal Society of Chemistry George and Christine Sosnovsky Award in Cancer Therapy[26]
  • 2012 AACR Team Science Award (Paul Workman, Team Leader)[17][18]
  • 2012 winner Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Royal Society of Chemistry[19]
  • 2013 awarded Cancer Research UK Translational Cancer Research Prize (with structural biology collaborator Professor Laurence Pearl)[27]
  • 2014 awarded Raymond Bourgine Award for "exceptional contributions to oncology".[34]
  • 2014 elected Fellow of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences[35]


  1. ^ "Prof Paul Workman : Cancer Research UK". 17 September 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Division of Cancer Therapeutics". 29 March 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Professor Paul Workman appointed Interim Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research". 23 May 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Professor Paul Workman". Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "Fluorinated 2-nitroimidazole analogs for detecting hypoxic tumor cells". Google patents. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "A phase I study of the nitroimidazole hypoxia marker SR4554 using 19F magnetic resonance spectroscopy". Br J Cancer (British Journal of Cancer) 101 (11): 1860–8. 1 September 2009. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6605425. PMC 2788261. PMID 19935799. 
  7. ^ Annals of Oncology News (PDF) (Annals of Oncology) 2 (5): 314–319. 1991 Retrieved 8 July 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Cancer Research announcements" (PDF). Cancer Research 48: 3297–3298. 1988. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "History of NCI-EORTC collaboration" (PDF). 5 (suppl 5). Annals of Oncology. 1994. pp. 7–16. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Annals of Oncology awards, appointments" (PDF). Annals of Oncology 8 (9): 817. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Zeneca Increases Stake in Sugen in USA". The Pharma Letter. 16 January 1995. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "FDA Drug Approval Summary: Gefitinib (ZD1839) (Iressa®) Tablets". Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  13. ^ "Partners". The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  14. ^ "Academia and industry: Successes for UK cancer partnership". Nature. 11 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "ICR tops rankings for invention income earned from its research" (Press release). 11 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  16. ^ "Publications by Category". 16 March 2012. doi:10.1038/leu.2012.52. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "AACR Team Science Award". Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  18. ^ a b "US Cancer Medicines". Reuters. 
  19. ^ a b
  20. ^ "ICR drug discovery highlighted for patient impact". 11 November 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  21. ^ "Genetech pipeline". Genetech. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  22. ^ "SABCS 2010: Molecular chaperones: cancer dependence and druggability – Prof Paul Workman – The Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, UK". Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  23. ^ "NVP-AUY922: a novel heat shock protein 90 inhibitor active against xenograft tumor growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis". Cancer Research 68 (8): 2850–60. 15 April 2008. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-5256. PMID 18413753. 
  24. ^ "ASCO Annual Meeting 2012: Phase II study of the HSP90 inhibitor AUY922 in patients with previously treated, advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)". J Clin Oncol. 30, 2012 (suppl; abstr 7543). Retrieved 4 April 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  25. ^ "ASCO Annual Meeting 2012: Phase IB/II study of the HSP90 inhibitor AUY922, in combination with trastuzumab, in patients with HER2+ advanced breast cancer". J Clin Oncol. 30, 2012 (suppl; abstr 530). Retrieved 7 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  26. ^ a b "2010 Winner The George and Christine Sosnovsky Award in Cancer Therapy- Paul Workman". Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  27. ^ a b "Cancer researchers honoured". Research Fortnight. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Our Scientific Advisory Board | Discovery_laboratories | Discovery | Cancer Research Technology Ltd | CRT". Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  32. ^ "The Academy of Medical Sciences | Directory of Fellows". Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  33. ^ "Cancer Drug Researcher Receives Royal Society of Chemistry Award – ICR Global Foundation". 4 June 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  34. ^ "Oncology: Pierre Fabre sponsors the Bourgine Prize". Pierre Fabre. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  35. ^ "Fellows Directory". European Academy of Cancer Sciences. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2012.