Cancer clinician Professor Stan Kaye has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Prize by Cancer Research UK today for his pioneering work in early-stage clinical trials and his contribution to improving treatments in ovarian cancer.
Over his career Professor Kaye has been involved in the development of many life-saving cancer treatments, including olaparib for ovarian cancer as well as capecitabine and docetaxel chemotherapies for a range of cancers.
His career began in the 1970s as a Cancer Research Campaign clinical research fellow at Charing Cross Hospital, London, where his research focused on understanding drug resistance.
In 1985 Professor Kaye became the head of the department of medical oncology at the University of Glasgow where he established a clinical trials unit that housed state-of-the-art phase I clinical trials. And in 1986 he co-founded the Scottish Gynaecological Cancer Trials Group, which went on to conduct several key trials in ovarian cancer.
During this time he made important contributions to the development and approval of two widely used drugs, capecitabine and docetaxel. In addition, his work in ovarian cancer helped to lay the foundation for today’s increasing focus on drug resistance as the major challenge.
He moved to The Institute of Cancer Research, London and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in 2000 where he established a dedicated Drug Development Unit which is one of the largest in the world and has been responsible for many important phase I clinical trials.
Professor Kaye and his team were instrumental in setting up the first-in-man olaparib trial, as well as phase II trials in ovarian cancer. This work paved the way for major changes in the treatment of ovarian cancer, by using, for the first time, novel targeted drugs to treat women left vulnerable by mutations in their BRCA genes.
Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Professor Kaye is a thoroughly deserved winner of this award. He has played a crucial role in the development of many drugs which have changed the lives of thousands of cancer patients across the world. The award recognises outstanding researchers who have dedicated their lives to scientific endeavour and improving the outlook for people with cancer and Stan fulfils this completely.
“He has shown a lifelong commitment to early stage clinical trials and has been a true pioneer in the field. The clinical trial unit he has created has given rise to a new generation of outstanding clinicians and scientists whom he has mentored and trained, inspiring them to find new ways to treat cancer.”
Professor Stan Kaye, a consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and an emeritus professor at the Institute of Cancer Research, said: “It’s a great honour to be awarded this prize by Cancer Research UK. Over my career I’ve had the good fortune to work with superb colleagues, both in the laboratory and the clinic. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have known many inspiring cancer patients particularly with ovarian cancer, and they have been my motivation for developing new drugs and treatments. I’ve been privileged to work at a time when our understanding of the biology of cancer has opened up new avenues for treating the disease and it’s been extremely rewarding to play a part in taking innovative new treatments to patients.”
The award will be presented to Professor Kaye at this year’s National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool on Monday 7 November after which he will deliver a plenary lecture.