Professor Sir David Lane Joins LICR Scientific Advisory Committee
The LICR Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) had the great pleasure of welcoming Sir David as a new member at its meeting in New York in February. An eminent molecular biologist, Sir David is best known for his co-discovery and subsequent research on tumor suppressor protein p53.
As the sixth member of the SAC, which advises the Scientific Director on the quality and focus of the Institute’s research, Sir David joins Drs. José Baselga (Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, Spain), Douglas Fearon (University of Cambridge, UK), Samuel Hellman (University of Chicago, USA), Lucy Shapiro (Stanford University, USA) and Phillip Sharp (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA). Sir David has served on multiple translational research committees, and his expertise will add greatly to the Institute’s efforts, particularly in the area of developing small molecule inhibitors to the many signal transduction targets discovered by LICR investigators.
Sir David actively pursues research both in the UK and in Singapore, where negotiations for a prospective LICR site are ongoing (refer December 2007 NewsLink). He holds a continuing appointment as Professor of Oncology at the University of Dundee and as Director of the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Cell Transformation Research Group, and was recently appointed to direct the scientific strategy of CRUK as Chief Scientist. In Singapore, he leads the Experimental Therapeutics Centre, which is part of the country’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). He also chairs A*STAR’s Biomedical Research Council.
Sir David obtained his PhD from University College London where he studied auto-immunity. In 1979, during his postdoctoral studies with Dr. Lionel Crawford at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) in London, he discovered a novel protein bound to the SV40 T antigen, which was named p53 based on its molecular weight. This protein was simultaneously and independently discovered by two separate American teams led by Drs. Arnold Levine and LICR Chairman, Lloyd Old.
After finishing his second post-doctoral position at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in New York, Sir David returned to the UK. He has subsequently directed laboratories at Imperial College, then at the ICRF laboratories at Clare Hall, and finally at the University of Dundee, where Dr. Xin Lu (Director, Oxford Branch) held a post-doctoral position. Over more than two decades, Sir David and his co-workers have studied mutations of p53 in human cancers and their influence on cellular processes such as cell cycle progression and apoptosis (programmed cell death). A critical determinant of cell fate, p53 is mutated in more than half of all human tumors and its pathway compromised in one way or another in most remaining tumors. The protein is often described as the ‘guardian of the genome,’ a phrase coined by Sir David.
Research in Sir David’s laboratory has in recent years focused on the regulation of p53-related tumor suppressor functions and on the discovery of drug targets that could restore these functions in tumor cells. With that objective, Sir David founded Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals, today a well-established biotech company with three new anti-cancer drugs in clinical trials.
For his contributions to cancer research, Sir David has won many prestigious prizes and was knighted by the Queen of England in 2000. He is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and a Fellow of the Royal Society, the UK’s premier Academy. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Pathologists and a founding member of the Academy of Medical Science.