Internationally-renowned scientist Professor Greg Hannon announced as next director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

PUBLISHED: 00:19 16 November 2017 | UPDATED: 00:23 16 November 2017

Prof Greg Hannon will become director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

Prof Greg Hannon will become director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

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Prof Hannon is an expert in cancer biology and genes and will follow Prof Simon Tavaré

A visualistaion of a cancer cellA visualistaion of a cancer cell

Professor Greg Hannon has been announced as the new director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

The internationally-renowned scientist, who joined the institute in 2014 as a senior group leader, will take over on February 1 from Professor Simon Tavaré, who has led the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute since 2013 and was a senior group leader at the institute since 2006.

One of the largest cancer research facilities in Europe, the institute is based at the heart of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, enabling close collaboration between researchers, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and life science companies. Its research benefits the 6,000 cancer patients that pass through the doors of the hospital annually, as well as patients around the UK and the world.

Prof Hannon said: “I’m incredibly honoured to be given this opportunity. I have Simon’s incredible legacy to build upon and the large responsibility to lead what is unquestionably a world-class institute into its next decade.

Prof Hannon is working on creating a 3D tumour that can be viewed in virtual realityProf Hannon is working on creating a 3D tumour that can be viewed in virtual reality

“I’m eternally grateful to Simon for bringing me to the Cancer Research UK Institute and for providing an atmosphere in which our science can thrive. It will soon be my responsibility to maximize that environment for others by drawing on the wisdom and intellect of my colleagues.”

Prior to joining the CRUK Cambridge Institute, Prof Hannon spent more than 20 years at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and chaired the cancer genetics program as part of its NCI-designated Cancer Center.

Internationally recognised for his contributions to small RNA biology, cancer biology and mammalian genomics, Prof Hannon has long experience in the discovery of cancer genes. He has developed widely-used tools and strategies for manipulation of gene expression in mammalian cells and animals, and exome capture approaches now being used to help bring the drive towards personalised medicine in the clinic.

Last year, he was announced as one of the first winners of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge awards. He and his team will receive up to £20million for a project to build a 3D tumour that can be studied using virtual reality and shows every single different type of cell in the tumour. The technology is designed to allow multiple doctors and scientists to look at a tumour at the same time, improving diagnosis and treatment of patients.

Some of the causes of cancerSome of the causes of cancer

Professor Patrick Maxwell, regius professor of physic at the University of Cambridge, says: “This is excellent news for the cancer community at Cambridge and indeed for the Cambridge Biomedical Campus as a whole. Greg has a strong track record of attracting significant funding and truly pushes the boundaries of cancer research, developing innovative new technologies to explore cancer from all angles – in the case of his new virtual reality work, quite literally!”

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “I’m delighted that Professor Hannon has been appointed as the next director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. The institute performs world-class research of profound importance across a range of cancer areas. I want to thank Simon for all his hard work over the last few years, taking the institute from strength to strength. I look forward to working with Greg and seeing his enthusiasm helping the institute achieve even greater levels of success.”

The Cambridge Institute focuses on the clinical application of high-quality basic research, helping to link the laboratory and the clinic. The Cambridge Independent is working with the institute on the £100,000 Rapid Scan Appeal designed to fund clinical study of new imaging techniques that could help doctors tell whether a cancer treatment is working within days, rather than weeks or months.

The institute’s landmark findings include the discovery that breast cancer can be divided into 10 different diseases, which has led to new treatments. Its pioneering research into blood tests could one day be used to understand the unique molecular profile of a person’s cancer.

Professor Kevin Brindle and the team at the CRUK Cambridge Institute working on new imaging techniques for which the Cambridge Independent is raising money under the Rapid Scan Appeal. Picture: Keith HeppellProfessor Kevin Brindle and the team at the CRUK Cambridge Institute working on new imaging techniques for which the Cambridge Independent is raising money under the Rapid Scan Appeal. Picture: Keith Heppell

Survival rates for cancer patients have doubled in the last 40 years in the UK. Today two in four survive cancer for at least 10 years and Cancer Research UK’s aim to accelerate progress so that by 2034, three in four will survive cancer for at least a decade.

The charity’s vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. It receives no government funding for its work - relying instead on fundraising.

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