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Cancer Research UK appoints new executive director of Policy, Information and Communications

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by Cancer Research UK | News

27 January 2021

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Ian Walker

The world’s leading cancer charity, Cancer Research UK, has appointed Ian Walker as its executive director of Policy, Information and Communications.

Reporting to Michelle Mitchell, chief executive, Ian will take responsibility for Cancer Research UK’s work as a trusted source for clear and up-to-date cancer information, alongside driving forward the charity’s efforts to influence government policy, particularly on key areas of prevention and early diagnosis of cancer. He will also oversee the communications department and clinical engagement and intelligence department.

“In the face of huge disruption to cancer care and research, one of the most inspiring aspects of this new role is the opportunity to help make a real and immediate difference for those affected by cancer.” – Ian Walker

A wealth of experience

Walker joined the charity 15 years ago. He has held several high impact roles throughout his career at Cancer Research UK, having been responsible for driving new strategic initiatives in precision medicine and leading the flagship Early Detection of Cancer programme.  Walker has evolved the charity’s research partnership portfolio, shaping innovative collaborations, nationally and internationally. Ian has also been responsible for overseeing Cancer Research UK’s national clinical network, including the jointly funded network of Experimental Medicine Centres designed to bring new treatments to cancer patients at speed. 

In his current role as director of research, Walker holds responsibility for all of Cancer Research UK’s research funding budget, totalling around £350 million. He brings a wealth of relevant experience to the role, having advised on several of the charity’s key campaigns to inform government policy around the provision of life-saving cancer research. Most recently he has played a pivotal part in the effort to push for the protection and restoration of clinical research activity within the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m thrilled Ian will be taking on this role and welcome him to the executive board,” said Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK. “The breadth of experience he has amassed at Cancer Research UK and his passion for improving cancer outcomes makes him ideally placed to lead the charity’s ongoing work to provide a strong voice for those affected by cancer at this critical time.”

Ian has a BSC in Biochemistry, a PhD developing novel cancer therapeutics and an MBA from Warwick Business School and is also a trustee at the Association of Medical Research Charities. He will start his new role on the executive board at Cancer Research UK in March, taking over from Sarah Woolnough who left the charity in October after 15 years.