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Professor Ketan Patel, Director of the MRC Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine and the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit at the University of Oxford has been appointed as chief scientist at Cancer Research UK.

Professor Patel (KJ) will provide scientific leadership for the charity’s activities and ambitions, and he joins at an important time following the launch of the organisation’s new long-term strategy earlier this year that puts discovery science at the heart of its work. This includes a key focus on making discoveries that unlock new and better ways to beat cancer, and translating scientific discoveries into interventions that benefit everyone.

Alongside his new role at Cancer Research UK, KJ will continue working as Director of the MRC Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine and the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit at the University of Oxford.

Professor Ketan Patel FRS FMedSci, said about his appointment:

'I’m proud to be joining an organisation that is so close to my heart and can’t wait to get started. Cancer Research UK has supported research that I’ve done throughout my career, as well as some of the scientific breakthroughs that I’ve made in my lab, and I’ve always been impressed by the incredibly talented people that work at the organisation.

'Cancer Research UK has been at the forefront of key discoveries that have saved lives over the past 120 years and our industry’s understanding of cancer has improved greatly over the past decade alone. Cancer remains one of the world’s greatest health challenges, but with new technologies, global networks, and new ways of thinking about cancer, I’m optimistic about what we can achieve in the future.'

Chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Michelle Mitchell, added:

'I’m delighted that KJ will be bringing his substantial expertise to this role. KJ’s worked closely with our charity throughout his career and he joins us at an exciting time with projects such as Cancer Grand Challenges, Cancer Research Horizons and TRACERx providing us with real hope that we can continue pushing the boundaries of scientific understanding and improving the lives of people affected by cancer.'

KJ trained in medicine in London and spent most of his research career at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. He also worked as a professor for molecular medicine and stem cell genomics at the University of Cambridge.

His research focuses on the molecular basis of inherited genomic instability and the role it plays in the biology of stem cells, particularly those that make blood. Cancer Research UK has funded some of KJ’s work in the past, including his research into cancer cachexia, the debilitating wasting condition many people with cancer experience in the later stages of their disease, which we still don’t fully understand. KJ’s findings have also contributed to the organisation's improved scientific understanding of what drives the development of cancer, such as how alcohol exposure can cause cancer, opening up new opportunities for prevention, detection and treatment.

KJ is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences UK and is also a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation.

Find out more about Oxford's Cancer research: