Professor Ashok Venkitaraman, Ursula Zoellner Professor; Director, MRC Cancer Cell Unit
Ashok Venkitaraman holds the Ursula Zoellner Professorship of Cancer Research at the University of Cambridge, and is the Director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cancer Cell Unit. He trained in clinical medicine before his Ph.D. and postdoctoral work in molecular cell biology. Ashok’s first faculty position was at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where he remained before election to the Zoellner Professorship in 1998. Ashok is recognized for his contributions in understanding the role played by genome instability mechanisms in cancer pathogenesis and treatment.
Ashok’s laboratory is developing novel transgenic models to elucidate the genomic evolution of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma over time and space, to identify new genetic determinants of progression and prognosis, and to develop new approaches for small-molecule therapy. Ashok worked with David Tuveson to help establish the pancreatic cancer pre-clinical therapeutics testing facility in Cambridge employing ultrasound imaging for pre-clinical therapeutic trials. He collaborates with Duncan Jodrell to study cellular mechanisms underlying new clinical trial designs for targeted anti-mitotic therapies, and the development of new biomarkers for therapeutic responsiveness. Ashok leads a multidisciplinary initiative that aims to pioneer new approaches for chemical biology and the development of small-molecule therapeutics.
Ashok was elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences, London in 2001, and to membership of the EMBO European academy in 2004. He received the Ranbaxy Award for Medical Research in 2007.