Gerard Evan, Ph.D. Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry
Gerard runs a research group focused on the elucidation of oncogene-mediated stromal changes and immune suppression in cancer and is the Sir William Dunn Professor and Head of the Department of Biochemistry. Gerard studied Biochemistry at Oxford, did his Ph.D. at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and was a post-doc in Mike Bishop’s laboratory at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). After a brief return to Cambridge as a research fellow at Downing College he moved to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories in London in 1988. He was elected to the Royal Society’s Napier Research Professorship in 1996. In 1999, he was appointed Gerson and Barbara Bass Bakar Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research at UCSF, subsequently returned in 2009 to Cambridge. Gerard was elected to EMBO in 1996, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences in 1999, the Royal Society in 2004, the European Academy of Sciences in 2006, the European Academy of Cancer Sciences in 2013 and the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research in 2019.
The principal problem with targeted therapies is that we have no systematic or informed way of predicting which, out of the legion of aberrant processes in pancreatic cancer cells, is the best to target with drugs or where, within that process the most effective molecular targets lie. To address this problem, we employ a novel class of genetically engineered mouse (GEM) in which individual oncogenes and/or tumour suppressor genes may be systemically toggled off and on, reversibly and at will, in vivo. In this way we can identify the most effective therapeutic targets irrespective of contemporary (and ephemeral) prejudices as to their “druggability”. These models have been invaluable in elucidating the role of oncogenes, particularly myc, in instructing tissue-specific stromal changes that generate the tumour microenvironment and in modifying the immune response. These instructive signals are, themselves, promising targets for therapy.