Alan Ashworth, Ph.D., F.R.S., is currently President of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Francisco, a role he began in January 2015. He was previously Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, United Kingdom.
In 1999 he was appointed the first Director of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre where he was also Professor of Molecular Biology and leader of the Gene Function team. Professor Ashworth’s Directorship ended in January 2011 when was appointed Chief Executive of the ICR.
A translational biologist and laboratory researcher, Dr. Ashworth’s research focuses on understanding breast cancer genetics and applying what he learns to change the way patients are treated. He was a key part of the team that identified the BRCA2 breast cancer susceptibility gene, which is linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer. Ten years later, Dr. Ashworth found a way to kill BRCA1- and 2-related tumor cells by treating them with PARP inhibitors, which amplifies the damage caused by the broken DNA repair machinery in those cells. This exemplifies the genetic principle of synthetic lethality in cancer therapy.
Dr. Ashworth is an elected member of EMBO and the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has been the recipient of a number of scientific prizes and awards including The European Society of Medical Oncology Lifetime Achievement Award, the David T. Workman Memorial Award of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation and the Meyenburg Foundation’s Cancer Research Award and was the inaugural winner of the 2013 Basser Global Prize. He has also recently been selected as the recipient of the 2015 Genetics Society Medal.