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LifeArc welcomes new lead and chair to head its Childhood Cancer Translational Challenge

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Headshot of David Jenkinson and Andy Pearson, each in a circle shape

LifeArc welcomes the arrival of a new Translational Challenge Lead, Dr David Jenkinson, and Chair, Professor Andy Pearson, who will both head our efforts in childhood cancer. 

We fund a wide range of innovative early translational research across 5 healthcare themes where patients are in desperate need of new treatments or diagnostic options.  

Within these healthcare themes, we have chosen ‘Translational Challenges’ – ambitious programmes in which we will invest to bring significant impact for patients with under-served healthcare needs.  

Our first Translational Challenges include: 

  • chronic respiratory infection (within respiratory health) 
  • motor neuron disease (within neurodegeneration) 
  • antimicrobial resistance (within global health)  

We are in the process of defining our first Translational Challenges within rare disease and now, childhood cancer.  

Our goal is to help early scientific ideas reach the next phase of development through advice, expertise, funding and collaborations with partners in life sciences. 

David and Andy will bring their extensive experience to help us create impactful change in childhood cancer. 

About David 

David has over 30 years of experience in oncology research. He joins us from The Brain Tumour Charity, where he transformed the scientific funding as their Chief Scientific Officer before steering the charity through the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic as its interim CEO.  

Throughout his time there, he grew international networks and developed a new research strategy to introduce translational funding schemes that would ensure discoveries can benefit patients.  

He also led several pioneering programmes, including the funding of complex innovative trial designs to support translation in the UK, establishing a career-support funding scheme to encourage future leaders in the field, and creating the first centre dedicated to studying paediatric low-grade brain tumours in Europe.  

Previous to The Brain Tumour Charity, David worked for Cancer Research Technology, gaining experience in technology assessment, protection, development, and licensing. He introduced several innovative approaches to ensure discoveries progress toward patients, such as securing orphan designations, industry co-funding agreements and the establishment of industry-academia drug discovery alliances. 

Before that, his experience ranges from leading the biology at a company developing therapeutics to control the switching ‘on’ and ‘off’ of genes in cancer, time at Cancer Research UK as a postdoctoral researcher, a degree from Brunel University in biochemistry and a PhD at the University of London. 

A theme of my career has been ensuring exciting new discoveries in oncology make it to the people who need them most.  The unique opportunity that the Translational Challenge approach of LifeArc offers to do this makes the role both massively exciting but also a huge responsibility.  I look forward to being part of delivering new innovations including tests and treatments that will make a huge difference for children and young people with cancer.” 

David said of his appointment

About Andy 

Andy brings his expertise in drug development and neuroblastoma – as well as over 45 years’ experience in clinical paediatric oncology – with him to LifeArc.  

Andy led the first paediatric phase I study in the UK and has been involved in the pre-clinical and early clinical development of many anti-cancer agents in children. He was the chief investigator of both the clinical trial ENSG 5, which changed the standard practice for the therapy of high-risk neuroblastoma in Europe, and the BEACON Trial, the first randomised European study for refractory or relapsed neuroblastoma. 

In addition, Andy is currently a leading member of a host of cancer research institutions. This includes chair of the United Kingdom Children Cancer Study Group, founding chair of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology Europe Neuroblastoma Group, and chair of ACCELERATE, European Medicines Agency, and the US Food and Drug Administration’s Paediatric Strategy Forum Oversight Committee, among many others. 

Prior to 2005, Andy was professor of paediatric oncology and Dean of postgraduate studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where he also was trained. He later became a professor of paediatric oncology at the Institute of Cancer Research, as well as the honorary consultant and Divisional Medical Director at the Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust.  

There, he led a comprehensive paediatric drug development programme with one of the largest portfolios of early phase, first in child, biomarker rich studies in Europe on neuroblastoma. He was awarded a lifetime achievement award from Advances in Neuroblastoma Research in 2016. 

Throughout his career, he has published over 400 scientific manuscripts. 

I am very honoured and privileged to be involved in this new and very exciting initiative. The Translational Challenge provides an enormous potential to benefit children with cancer. Using the capabilities of LifeArc, I will strongly endeavour to optimise all opportunities.” 

Andy said of his appointment

We’re excited to see what the future holds. Watch this space for the updates on our efforts in childhood cancer.  

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