The Early Phase Cancer Trials Programme brings scientists, clinicians, nurses, data managers, coordinators and management together to deliver ground breaking therapies for the treatment of cancer
- Cancer Principal Investigators
A Principal Investigator (PI) is the individual responsible for the preparation, conduct, and administration of a research grant, cooperative agreement, training or public service project, contract, or other sponsored project.
Below you may find a list of our current Principal Investigators.
Dr. Rakesh Popat
Cancer Lead NIHR UCLH Clinical Research Facility
Dr. Popat is a consultant haematologist at UCH and honorary associate professor at UCL with a specialist interest in multiple myeloma. He is the Chair of the UK Myeloma Research Alliance (NCRI Myeloma sub-group) and the Haematology lead for the North Thames Clinical Research Network.
Prof. John Bridgewater
Clinical Professor & Medical Oncologist
Professor Bridgewater specialises in gastrointestinal oncology, with a particular interest in biliary tract cancers and carcinomas of unknown primary origin. He leads the National Cancer Research Institute subgroup in Upper gastrointestinal malignancy and is actively involved in the research portfolio. He is also active in trials across the gastrointestinal portfolio and is a member of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer. He has multiple translational collaborations at the UCL Cancer Institute.
Dr. Martin Forster
Associate Professor & Consultant Medical Oncologist
UCL ECMC Clinical Lead
Dr. Martin Forster is an Associate Professor at UCL and consultant medical oncologist at University College Hospital. He is the UCL ECMC Clinical Lead and UCLH Clinical Lead for Cancer Research. He specialises in thoracic and head and neck cancers and has a particular interest in drug development and in using the increasing understanding of cancer biology to design studies that distinguish patient populations most likely to gain benefit from new drugs and new drug combinations.
He is a core member of the lung and head and neck cancer teams and runs a research-based practice, being principal investigator or chief investigator for over 80 early and late-phase clinical trials, from first-in-human to registration Phase III trials. These include targeted therapies in precision oncology trials, novel immunotherapies, and more recently solid cancer cell therapy studies.
He collaborates broadly with national and international groups involved in translational research and is joint lead for the clinical trials theme of the Cancer Research UK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence and chairs the NIHR Head and Neck Research Group.
Prof. Daniel Hochhauser
Kathleen Ferrier Professor of Medical Oncology
Head of Research Department of Oncology
Co-Director Cancer Theme, UCLH Biomedical Research Centre
Clinical Director CRUK UCL Centre
Daniel Hochhauser is a Kathleen Ferrier professor and consultant medical oncologist. Following postgraduate medical training in London and Oxford, he was awarded a DPhil at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford. Subsequently he completed specialist training at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York before appointment as a consultant and senior lecturer in 1996.
Prof. Sam Janes
Professor of Respiratory Medicine
Professor Janes won an MRC Training fellowship to perform a PhD and then a post-doctoral period working in the CRUK Lincoln’s Inn Fields Institute with Fiona Watt working on integrin adhesion molecules and cancer cell survival. He then moved as an MRC Clinician Scientist to UCL leading a group interested in the role of stem cells in lung cancer pathogenesis and treatment of lung disease using cell therapies.
He was awarded a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical fellowship in October 2010 to work on novel cell therapies for lung cancers resulting in a DPFS first-in-man award and recently won his Wellcome Senior fellowship renewal to study the genetic and cellular changes lung cancer pathogenesis. The ambition is that from this knowledge he can develop therapies detecting and targeting early lung cancers and thereby dramatically improve outcomes. He works as a respiratory consultant at UCLH with a particular interest in Lung Cancer, mesothelioma, interventional and diagnostic bronchoscopy and early lung cancer detection.
He is head of the respiratory research department at UCL, director of the Lung Cancer Board for London Cancer, lead for Pulmonary at the International Society of Cellular Therapies and Vice-Chair of the National ‘Clinical Expert Group’ on Lung Cancer.
Dr. Mark Linch
Honorary Senior Lecturer & Consultant Medical Oncologist
Dr Mark Linch is an Associate Professor at University College London (UCL) Cancer Institute, where he leads the Urological Cancer Biology Group, and Honorary Consultant Medical Oncologist. Dr Linch trained in medical oncology at the Royal Marsden Hospital (RMH), London. In 2012 he was awarded a PhD in Cancer Cell Biology from UCL and the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute (LRI), now known as the Francis Crick Institute. He continued his post-doctoral studies at the LRI while also working as a Consultant Medical Oncologist at RMH. In 2014 Dr Linch moved to UCL to specialise in the clinical management and translational biology of prostate and bladder cancer.
His research is focused on the immune biology of these cancers with a view to identifying rational immunotherapy combinations, predictive biomarkers and novel liquid biopsy strategies. He is chief investigator of a number of early phase national and international clinical trials in bladder and prostate cancer (DURANCE, NEPTUNES, Pro-MERIT), is Chair of the UK Prostate Cancer 100,000 genome project group and is an inaugural member of the UK Bladder Cancer Translational Group.
His research is funded by the NIHR/BRC, CRUK, Rosetrees Trust, Prostate Cancer Foundation, The John Black Charitable Foundation, Prostate Cancer UK and Sir Peter Wood.
Prof. Tim Meyer
Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine & Consultant Medical Oncologist
Tim Meyer is professor of experimental cancer medicine and consultant in medical oncology. He obtained his medical degree from UCL and undertook postgraduate training in London.
He was awarded a PhD for work conducted in Prof Ian Hart’s Lab at the ICRF and was appointed to his current post in 2002.
Dr. Rowan Miller
Consultant Medical Oncologist
Dr Rowan Miller is a consultant medical oncologist specialising in gynae-oncology and early phase clinical trials at University College London and St Bartholomew's Hospitals.
Dr. Jenny O'Nions
Dr Jenny O'Nions is a consultant haematologist at University College London.
Dr. Dionysis Papadatos-Pastos
Consultant Medical Oncologist
Dr Dionysis Papadatos-Pastos joined University College London Hospitals as a consultant medical oncologist in January 2016.
Dr. Elisavet (Elsa) Papadimitraki
Consultant Medical Oncologist
Dr Elsa Papadimitraki is a consultant medical oncologist specialising in breast cancer.
She obtained her medical degree at the 3rd Medical Faculty of Charles’ University, Prague and completed the medical oncology training in University of Crete, Greece in 2012. She obtained her PhD degree in cancer immunotherapy at University of Crete and she joined the breast cancer unit at Royal Marsden Hospital as senior clinical research fellow. She worked as consultant since 2015 at Barts and Southampton Hospitals until she was appointed consultant at UCLH in 2019.
Dr. Rebecca Roylance
Consultant Medical Oncologist
Dr Rebecca Roylance is a medical oncologist specialising in the medical management of breast cancer, and is an honorary associate professor at UCL.
After qualifying from St Georges Hospital Medical School, she completed medical oncology training at UCLH and the Royal Free Hospital. She undertook a PhD at Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK) investigating the genetics of breast cancer before completing her specialist oncology training whilst a Cancer Research UK Clinician Scientist. Her laboratory work during this time continued at Cancer Research UK and focussed on the specific genetic changes occurring in low grade breast cancer. On completing her training she was awarded a HEFCE senior clinical fellowship and took up a consultant post at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, while continuing research into the genetic susceptibility of pre-invasive breast cancer and increasing her interest in translational work and clinical trials.
In 2015 she took up her current post as consultant oncologist at UCLH, where she is now the clinical lead for oncology.
She is active in clinical trials and sits on the Yorkshire Cancer Research Advisory Board. She is a senior medical editor for Macmillan.
She is currently the breast pathway director for the North Central London Cancer Alliance, having been the pathway director for London Cancer since 2012, the Integrated Cancer System for North Central and East London whose aims were to improve patient experience, and outcomes and increase recruitment to clinical trials.
Dr. Heather Shaw
Consultant Medical Oncologist
Dr Shaw received her medical degree from the University of Glasgow, and subsequently, Membership of the Royal College of Physicians. She held a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship to investigate melanocyte (pigment cell) transformation and concurrently worked within the Royal Marsden Drug Development Unit on a number of early phase trials. Dr Shaw undertook specialty training at University College London Hospital and Mount Vernon Cancer Centre resulting in certification in medical oncology. She was recently appointed as a Consultant Medical Oncologist between University College London Hospital – to set up a systemic treatment service for melanoma with a focus on early phase trials and facilitating translational research for the condition; and to join the busy and dynamic Mount Vernon Cancer Centre Skin Cancer Service.
Dr Shaw’s main interests are the development of new strategies for treating melanoma including rare subtypes such as ocular, and combination therapies to overcome resistance to currently available treatments and maximise benefit for patients.
Dr. Sandra Strauss
Senior Clinical Lecturer & Honorary Consultant Medical Oncologist
Sandra Strauss is a senior clinical lecturer and honorary consultant medical oncologist. Her clinical post is based at University College London Hospital, part of the London Sarcoma Service, one of the largest sarcoma services in Europe. She specialises in the systemic treatment of bone and soft tissue sarcomas in both adults and teenagers.
Sandra began training as a medical oncologist working on the adolescent unit at the Middlesex Hospital where she developed an interest in sarcoma and teenage and young adult (TYA) cancer. She completed a Cancer Research UK clinical fellowship to obtain a PhD (University of London) at St Bartholomew's Hospital investigating pre-clinical and clinical effects of novel treatments for cancer, and investigating translational markers to improve their effects. In 2009, she was awarded a career development award from the Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration (SARC), which allowed her to further her research aiming to identify new targets for the treatment of sarcoma; work that is ongoing in the UCL Cancer Institute. She has a strong interest in translating these findings into benefit for patients and early phase clinical trials, particularly in sarcomas affecting teenagers and young adults.
She is the chief investigator and principle investigator for a number of international and national phase I, II and III studies in sarcoma and is leading a national cohort study in osteosarcoma, ICONIC. Shechairs the NCRI Sarcoma Clinical Studies Group Bone Subgroup and was recently appointed chair of the executive committee of the European EuroEwing consortium (EEC), a pan-European collaboration to improve outcome for patients with Ewing sarcoma.
She is a member of the the EORTC Soft Tissue and Bone Sarcoma Group and Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer (ITCC) consortium and is the clinical lead for sarcoma and rare cancers for the Public Health England (PHE) National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS). Here, she is particularly interested in understanding variations in patient pathways and access to specialist services to reduce inequalities and improve outcome for patients with rare cancers.
Dr. William Townsend
I graduated in medicine from the University of Birmingham in 2004 before undertaking training posts in Birmingham, Nottingham, Norwich, and London.
I became a consultant haematologist at University College London Hospitals in 2017. I specialise in lymphoma and lead a programme of early phase clinical trials in lymphoproliferative disorders.
I am an active member of the national low grade and high grade lymphoma NCRN sub groups and am national chief investigator for a number of ongoing early phase clinical trials in the field of lymphoma. I have co-authored national guidelines on the management of follicular lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma as well as several book chapters on the management of lymphoma.
Dr. Sarah Benafif
Consultant Medical Oncologist
Dr Sarah Benafif completed her medical training at Imperial College London, and subsequent Medical Oncology training in the London Deanery. In 2020, she gained her PhD in Cancer Genetics from the Institute of Cancer Research, London. As part of her research project, she set up the first trial (BARCODE-1 trial) in the UK to investigate prospective genetic profiling to guide prostate cancer screening.
After spending some time in the UCLH Clinical Research Facility as a senior clinical research fellow, Dr Benafif commenced her current role as a medical oncology consultant in lung oncology and early phase trials in January 2022.
Dr. Michael Flynn
Consultant Medical Oncologist
Dr. Michael Flynn is Medical Oncology Consultant at University College London Hospital specialising in Gynae-Oncology and Early Phase Trials. He completed his PhD in antibody-drug conjugate translational development at University College London and his specialist training at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Previously, Dr Flynn worked as a Phase I Clinical Research Fellow within our Clinical Research Facility for several years, during which time he was a sub-investigator on a number of first-in-man and later Phase development clinical trials. He is a now Principal Investigator on gynae-specific and sub-investigator on tumour-agnostic targeted therapy, immunotherapy and combination trials whilst continuing to expand his trial portfolio.
Dr. Anuradha Jayaram
Consultant Medical Oncologist
Dr. Anuradha Jayaram has been recently appointed as a consultant medical oncologist in Uro-Oncology and the phase 1 unit at University College London Hospital. She graduated with an honour’s degree from Trinity College Dublin in 2006, and after completing her medical oncology training in Ireland, she was awarded a Health Research Board grant to purse a clinical fellowship in prostate cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust with Gerhardt Attard.
In 2016, she was awarded a Medical Research Council UK PhD fellowship. Her research focus was primarily on liquid biopsies, mainly circulating plasma DNA, to define the evolutionary complexities that underlie drug resistance and molecularly characterize prostate cancer. She successfully was awarded her PhD in 2021 which resulted in a number of high impact first author publications. During her PhD, she had a number of collaborations, resulting in a number of co-author publications including publications in Science Translation Medicine, Annals of Oncology, Cancer Discovery and the Journal of Clinical Oncology. In 2019, she was awarded a prestigious Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award to further her research in liquid biopsies to better understand the effects of hormonal therapy on the peripheral immune system.
She is also interested in running translational based trials that will help predict treatment responses in prostate cancer patients. She was recently a co-author on a grant that was awarded £1 million pounds by Prostate Cancer UK to run a clinical trial using plasma DNA called PARADIGM. The PARADIGM trial is currently running in 14 sites around the UK and has recently received further funding from Astellas to support the validation cohort for the study.
Dr. Khurum Khan
Honorary Associate Professor & Consultant Medical Oncologist
Dr. Khan is a research-active consultant who trained in medical oncology at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre and Royal Marsden NHS Trust London. Dr. Khan took a substantive consultant position in gastrointestinal oncology at UCLH In conjunction, after leading Oncology research at North Middlesex University Hospital, he joined Whittington in January 2022.
Dr Khan was awarded Robert McAlpine Fellowship studying mechanisms of response and resistance to target therapies in advanced colorectal cancer and gained MD(Res) degree under supervision of Professor David Cunningham at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital. He was involved in setup and conduct of large multicentre academic and translational studies from the time that he spent in full-time research, which included working as trial physician for phase II/III studies in early and advanced gastrointestinal cancers.
Dr Khas has published several high-impact research papers in peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Cancer Discovery, Gut, Gastroenterologist, Clinical Cancer Research, Oncogene, Oncologist, BMC Cancer, Cancers, and British Journal of Cancer. He is the associate editor of gastroenterology section of Frontiers in Oncology.
He is actively involved in translational research and has presented and lectured in international conferences and public forums respectively. He is now a UK Chief Investigator on a phase III study at UCLH, and PI on multiple phase II/III studies. Dr Khan is currently setting up number of new early phase clinical trials at the UCLH CRF.
- UCLH NIHR Clinical Research Facility Management Team
Our management team at the UCLH NIHR Clinical Research Facility ensure the smooth operational aspects of the cancer portfolio.
Prof. Vincenzo Libri
Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Facility at UCLH
Consultant in Clinical Pharmacology at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN)
Professor of Translational Neurology at UCL Institute of Neurology (ION)
Director of the Masters in Translational Neuroscience at UCL
Vincenzo Libri is a Professor of Translational Neurology at UCL-Institute of Neurology (ION) and Honorary Consultant Clinical Pharmacologist at UCLH-National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN). He is Director of the NIHR UCLH Clinical Research Facility at three sites, namely the comprehensive CRF at the Bloomsbury Campus (focusing primarily on cancer trials), the Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre at NHNN and the UCLH Vaccine Trial Centre opened in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He is Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) and Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society (FBPhS). He is Chair of the Health Research Authority-London Chelsea Research Ethics Committee.
Prof Libri has a long-lasting expertise in clinical pharmacology, experimental neurology, translational medicine, early phase drug development and medical governance. His main research interests are in Motor Neurone Disease/ALS, Alzheimer's disease, Friedreich's ataxia, and SARS-COV-2 vaccine trials. He is Principal Investigator/Co-investigator of a series of early phase clinical trials in neurodegenerative disease targeting innovative putative new therapies, notably First-in-Human antisense oligonucleotides in motor neurone disease. He is also the Director of the Covid-19 Vaccine trial programme at UCLH and oversees multiple Urgent Public Health Covid-19 vaccine and passive immunisation trials, including the landmark Oxford/AstraZeneca COV002 trial leading to Emergency Use Authorisation in the UK and internationally. He has published over 100 papers in peer reviewed medical journals including the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Medicine and Science Translational Medicine among others.
Early Phase Cancer Trials Research Manager
Fatjon Dekaj graduate with a BSc Biomedical Sciences and a MSc in Genomic Medicine in 2017. He has previously worked as a Cancer Trials Practitioner at Barts NHS Trust and Research Coordinator at University College London. He joined the UCLH NIHR Clinical Research Facility as the Early Phase Cancer Trials Research Manager in 2021.
Fatjon oversees the communications of the UCL/UCLH early phase cancer trials, including development of the monthly portfolio newsletter, 6-monthly public newsletter and development and maintenance of the website. He has a role in the development of PPI/E within the cancer trials programme. He assists on ensuring the cancer trials portfolio is highlighted. Fatjon links closely with the UCL Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMC) to ensure strategy alignment.
In addition, he acts as trial coordinator on academic sarcoma clinical trials within the NIHR ULCH CRF of which Dr. Sandra Strauss is the Chief Investigator. Fatjon handles project management and ensures these European-wide complex academic trials meet UK research governance guidelines.
Dr. Rajeshree Khengar
NIHR UCLH Clinical Research Facility General Manager
Raj Khengar is responsible for the oversight of regulatory, financial, business and operations of a cross-therapeutic clinical research facility.
Research Directorate Head of Research Delivery Workforce and CRF Lead Nurse NIHR UCLH Clinical Research Facility
Marivic Ricamara is an experienced independent specialist practitioner working in partnership with the CRF clinical director, CRF General Manager and Director of R&D to lead the delivery and growth of clinical research within the CRFs and across the wider R&D structure. She is responsible for providing clinical and professional leadership and line management to research staff within the CRF and R&D. She has joint responsibility for overseeing the management and delivery of early phase research studies in partnership with key stakeholders such as the CRF Management team, sponsors and North Thames LCRN, to ensure all trials are run according to the protocol, current national law; local guidelines and procedures; following the principles of good clinical practice (GCP) and that all members of the research team are working within these frameworks.
She oversees the day-to-day management of the CRFs and R&D research delivery workforce providing support, education and professional development of junior research staff ensuring that support is provided to the relevant PIs and their teams working within the CRF.
She acts as a point-of-contact for advice and expertise on all professional matters relating to clinical research delivery practice. She ensures excellent communication with senior nurses across the Trust as well as across the complex research infrastructure and with external agencies.
NIHR UCLH Clinical Research Facility - Senior Cancer Research Nurse
Jingle Sanchez re-joined CRF in January 2022. Her cancer clinical background dates back in 2002 when she was appointed as staff nurse in the oncology ward in the UCLH tower. She worked her way up to become a senior staff nurse in the same department until 2015 by which time, she joined the CRF for the first time as a Cancer Research Nurse. Subsequently, Jingle was appointed as a Prostate Cancer CNS from 2017 to 2022 and keyworker to prostate cancer patients who are receiving standard of care treatment modalities including patients who are on clinical trials which eventually motivated her to move back to cancer research for which she is very passionate about.
Her role as a Senior Cancer Research Nurse is an autonomous role which involves collaboration within the multidisciplinary healthcare and the management teams in ensuring that all national and local safety guidelines are fully met. Furthermore, Jingle also has oversight of the day to day clinical activities of CRF and the research nurses within the team.
Jingle has recently completed the history and physical assessment course and is hoping to be an independent nurse prescriber in the near future.
Dr. Miguel Paz-Alvarez
NIHR UCLH Clinical Research Facility - Clinical Studies Manager
Miguel Paz-Alvarez graduated from Complutense University of Madrid with a Master’s in Pharmacy in 2015. He then moved to University College London School of Pharmacy to undertake a PhD in Pharmaceutics looking at the topical delivery of active ingredients both in vitro and in vivo in a clinical study in collaboration with Unilever as a funder of the project. In 2019, Miguel joined UCLH at the Joint Research Office as a Portfolio Officer focusing on the set up of clinical studies within the Trust. He then moved to the NIHR UCLH Clinical Research Facility where he currently works as Clinical Studies Manager, overseeing the unit’s portfolio of early phase clinical trials across two of the CRF sites, mainly focusing on Neurology and Oncology. Miguel manages the team of trial coordinators at the CRF who lead the set up, project management and research governance support of complex trials undertaken by the research team at the Clinical Research Facility.