Currently Professor of Molecular Oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, Professor Marais will take up his post in February 2012. He succeeds Professor Nic Jones who was appointed Cancer Research UK’s chief scientist earlier this year.
Professor Marais is a world-leading expert on the underlying causes of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Much of his work has focused on how the protein BRAF triggers cancer, which is faulty in more than half of all melanomas. Damage to the protein locks it in an active form that drives cell growth that ultimately leads to cancer. This work has already led to the discovery of potential new drugs to treat skin cancer that are now showing promise in clinical trials.
Professor Marais said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Paterson Institute at an exciting time for cancer research in Manchester. The Paterson is already recognised internationally and we will build on this reputation over the coming years.”
The Paterson Institute for Cancer Research is one of Cancer Research UK’s five institutes, playing a key role in its world-class research to find new ways to tackle cancer. Each year Cancer Research UK invests £20 million in Manchester to support this work.
Part of The University of Manchester, the Paterson is home to 16 research groups with a wide variety of interests ranging from the study of molecular processes that drive the growth and spread of cancers, to the development of new drugs for leukaemia and discovering the causes of drug resistance in bowel cancer. It has particular research interests in breast and lung cancers and in radiotherapy. It also works very closely with The Christie, one of the leading and largest specialist cancer centres in Europe.
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: “I am delighted that Professor Richard Marais has agreed to lead the Paterson Institute, which is a very important role for the University, for Manchester and for cancer. Richard will also become a full professor of the University. His breadth and depth of expertise, from basic science to clinical studies on cancer patients, embraces key goals of the University.”
Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “It’s a great pleasure to announce Professor Marais as the new director of the Paterson Institute. His research into the underlying causes of skin cancer has earned him worldwide recognition and is now beginning to deliver real benefits for patients with this form of the disease. We look forward to welcoming Professor Marais to Manchester and are confident that with his leadership the international reputation of the Paterson will continue to grow.”
For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.