Cancer Research UK appoints new director to lead its Centre for Drug Development

Cancer Research UK has appointed industry veteran Dr Lars Erwig as the new director for its Centre for Drug Development, the world's only charity-funded drug development facility.

With Cancer Research UK’s aim to beat cancer, the centre has a critical role to play in partnering with others to ensure that pre-clinical and early-phase clinical projects with the highest potential for patient benefit are prioritised and rapidly advanced.

In his new role, Dr Erwig will be responsible for shaping an exciting and cutting-edge portfolio of first-in-human trials for the charity, working closely with Cancer Research UK’s academic research community and partners across industry and biotech. He brings a wealth of experience and expertise in academia as well as in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors, having joined from J&J where he was vice president for External Innovation, responsible for growing academic and industry networks and advancing external opportunities.

Dr Erwig replaces Nigel Blackburn who retired earlier this year. He starts on 1 February 2024 and will report to Dr Iain Foulkes, Executive Director, Research and Innovation and CEO of Cancer Research Horizons.

Commenting on the new appointment, Dr Foulkes said: “At Cancer Research UK, we have 30 years of experience partnering with industry and academia with six medicines reaching the market and health systems around the world. But there is so much more innovation that could be translated for patients and I am delighted that Lars will be joining the centre to identify new opportunities for CDD to progress. He will bring tremendous strength in identifying novel agents, working closely with other organisations and agencies involved in drug development.”

Commenting on his new role, Dr Erwig said: “The Centre for Drug Development occupies a unique place in drug discovery, drawing on a world-class network of researchers and an innovative approach to partnerships. I am excited to join Cancer Research UK as CDD director and continue the quest for developing novel, kinder and more effective therapies for people affected by cancer.”

About the Centre for Drug Development
Cancer Research UK’s drug discovery research has been instrumental in discovering and developing class-leading cancer drugs and fast-tracking them to the clinic via its Centre for Drug Development.

With a team of over 100 drug development scientists and operational staff, the Centre has expertise across preclinical and medical sciences, regulatory affairs, quality assurance, project management, legal, drug safety, clinical operations and data management. It also runs a dedicated manufacturing facility which is licensed to produce small molecule drugs for use in clinical trials.

Its current development portfolio contains 10 small molecules and 13 biotherapeutic agents (September 2023), and it was instrumental in the development of rucaparib and abiraterone.

The Centre offers a number of flexible business models that allow organisations to progress their new therapeutic agent into an early phase clinical trial.

About Lars Erwig
Dr Erwig joins from J&J where he was vice president for External Innovation responsible for growing academic and industry networks and advancing external opportunities.

Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Dr Erwig worked for Galvani Bioelectronics (a GSK/Google-Verily funded company) as vice president and head of Experimental Medicine and Clinical Development. He was responsible for taking the emerging field of peripheral precision neuromodulation into human clinical trials in chronic autoimmune conditions.

He also worked at GSK in the Experimental Medicine Discovery Performance Unit within the immuno-inflammation therapy area, and before joining industry, he held the post of professor of nephrology at the University of Aberdeen with a special interest in multisystem autoimmune disease. He published extensively on the role of macrophages in inflammation and host pathogen interactions.

Media Contact Information: 

Tim Bodicoat
Content Manager, Cancer Research Horizons