Paul Workman

Executive Director
Institute of Cancer Research

Paul Workman is Harrap Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR). He is renowned for his research on the discovery, chemical biology and molecular pharmacology of cancer drugs and chemical probes, particularly those acting on protein kinases, PI3 kinases, molecular chaperones including HSP90 and HSP70, and the HSF1 pathway. Paul has been responsible for more than 20 molecularly targeted cancer drugs entering clinical trials and he is the originator of the widely-used Pharmacological Audit Trail for biomarker-led drug discovery and development. Following his research at the Universities of Cambridge (MRC Clinical Oncology Unit), Stanford (UICC Visiting Fellow) and Glasgow (CRUK Beatson Laboratories), Paul spent four years in the cancer drug discovery leadership team at AstraZeneca. In 1997, Paul joined the ICR as Director of the CRUK Cancer Therapeutics Unit. Paul was appointed Deputy Chief Executive in 2011 and then served as Chief Executive and President of ICR from 2014 to 2021. In addition, Paul was Founding Director of the ICR/Imperial College Cancer Research Centre of Excellence and the CRUK Convergence Science Centre at ICR/Imperial. As a scientific entrepreneur, Paul was a founder of Piramed Pharma (acquired by Roche) and Chroma Therapeutics and is a Science Partner at Nextechinvest; he also advises many other companies and academic organisations. Paul has received numerous awards, including the American Association of Cancer Research Team Science Award (Team Leader); the CRUK Translational Cancer Research Prize; the George and Christine Sosnovsky Award and the World Entrepreneur Award – both of the Royal Society of Chemistry; and the international Raymond Bourgine Award for excellence in cancer research. Paul is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of Biology, and European Academy of Cancer Sciences, and he is a CRUK Life Fellow; in 2016 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science and in 2023 he was announced as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Paul is passionate about the development and best-practice use of high-quality chemical probes, with Ian Collins he published in Chemistry and Biology 2010 an influential article on ‘fitness factors for small molecule tools’. He was also a co-author of the Arrowsmith et al Nature Chemical Biology 2015 publication announcing the creation of the Chemical Probes Portal and he served on the original Board of Directors for the Portal. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Portal, now hosted at the ICR, and was the lead applicant on the Wellcome Trust Biomedical Resource and Technology grant that provides funding to support, enhance and expand the Portal. In addition, Paul has been instrumental in the creation and development of the canSAR resource for cancer drug discovery and translational research (with Bissan Al-Lazikani) and the Probe Miner resource for objective assessment of chemical probes (with Bissan Al-Lazikani and Albert Antolin) and has led the publication of a series of guidelines for the welfare and use of animals in cancer research. In addition he is Co-Director of CRUK Children’s Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence at Cambridge University and ICR. Paul lectures, writes and blogs on chemical probes, drug discovery and cancer research.