Introducing our new Scientific Committee members

7 March 2023
CGC new Scientific Committ

We are pleased to welcome five new members to the Cancer Grand Challenges Scientific Committee: Professor Michael Hall (University of Basel), Professor Sherene Loi (Peter MacCallum Cancer Center), Professor KJ Patel (University of Oxford), Professor Timothy Rebbeck (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) and Professor Lillian Siu (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre). 

The Scientific Committee is a pivotal part of the Cancer Grand Challenges community, providing scientific leadership at each step of the funding process. The committee is made up of eminent scientists who each provides a different perspective on how to tackle cancer’s toughest challenges by bringing expertise from their respective fields.  

Mike, Sherene, KJ, Tim and Lillian will enrich the scientific leadership at Cancer Grand Challenges by bringing invaluable experience and knowledge from their respective fields. 

Mike is a Professor at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel in Switzerland. He is a world leader in the fields of TOR signalling and cell growth control, after discovering TOR in 1991 and subsequently elucidating its role in growth and metabolism. Mike’s research group at Biozentrum studies TOR signalling and growth control in various model systems, and the role TOR plays in the development of a variety of disorders, including cancer. Mike works closely with clinicians to translate the group’s findings into the human context. Mike brings his wealth of knowledge on the role of TOR in cell growth, metabolism and cancer development.  

Sherene brings her expertise as a medical oncologist and is specialised in breast cancer treatment. She is recognised internationally as a leading clinician scientist whose work has led to new insights into the breast cancer immunology field. As head of the Translational Breast Cancer Genomics and Therapeutics Laboratory at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center in Melbourne, Australia, her laboratory uses genomic approaches to analyse breast cancer specimens to understand mechanisms of growth, immune evasion and progression. Sherene has a strong focus on translation and leads international clinical trials in breast cancer immunotherapy. 

KJ read medicine at the University of London, and subsequently trained as a gastroenterologist. He spent his research career until recently at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. KJ’s research interests lie in the molecular basis of inherited genomic instability and the role it plays in the biology of stem cells, particularly those that make blood. His research has led to important insight into how alcohol exposure damages DNA and causes cancer. As Chief Scientist of Cancer Research UK, Director of the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine, and Director of the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit at the University of Oxford, KJ brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the Cancer Grand Challenges Scientific Committee. 

“I am thrilled and honoured to join the Cancer Grand Challenges Scientific Committee. It is already clear that this challenge-led scheme is attracting outstanding international scientists to work together on singular fundamental questions in cancer biology. There is a great opportunity to see the research done by these teams leading to a step change in our understanding of cancer and new ways to detect and treat it,” says KJ. 

Tim is the Vincent L. Gregory, Jr. Professor of Cancer Prevention at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He trained as a qualitative geneticist and epidemiologist and has used this training to study the causes and prevention of cancer, with a particular focus on addressing cancer health disparities and global health needs, particularly in prostate cancer. He founded and continues to lead international cancer consortia that study risk and outcomes in prostate cancer in men of African descent in North America and Africa. 

“I am excited to be a part of the novel and proactive process established by the Cancer Grand Challenges initiative: engage the scientific community to identify the important cancer questions, support teams to address these questions, and monitor the impact of the work,” says Tim. 

As a physician scientist, Lillian will bring knowledge and experience in the translation of scientific discoveries from bench to bedside through rigorously conducted and innovatively designed clinical trials. Lillian is senior medical oncologist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, Canada, where she is the Director of the Phase I Clinical Trials Program and Clinical Lead for the Tumor Immunotherapy Program, and holds the BMO Chair in Precision Cancer Genomics. She is also Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, with research interests in precision cancer medicine and immuno-oncology, especially in the evaluation of predictive biomarkers to identify patients most likely to benefit from these therapeutics.  

“As a member of the Scientific Committee, I am excited to probe the deep minds of scientists and researchers worldwide, to reach the farthest corner of their imagination and creativity,” says Lillian. 

Find out more about the Scientific Committee