Professor Kristian Helin, a world-leading cancer researcher with exceptional leadership experience in three different countries, will become Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, in September.
Professor Helin is a pioneer in understanding how changes to the way the DNA code is read and translated into protein can lead to cancer. He was the founding Director of a scientific institute in his homeland of Denmark, led research centres in Italy and the US, and co-founded a successful biotech company.
His appointment underlines the international reputation of the ICR and its ability to attract globally recognised scientific leaders to work here in the UK. Professor Helin will join the ICR on 1st September 2021 from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in the US, where he is Chair of the Cell Biology Program and director of the Center for Epigenetics Research (CER) at MSK.
He spent 15 years as Director of BRIC – a major biotech and innovation institute at the University of Copenhagen – and was also a Unit and Division Director at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan.
He will take over as Chief Executive from Professor Paul Workman, who announced in December 2019 his intention to step down once a new CEO with world-class scientific and leadership credentials had been recruited. Professor Workman will continue as Chief Executive until the end of August to ensure a smooth leadership transition.
Professor Helin shares the ICR’s passion for advancing the scientific understanding of cancer biology, and using that knowledge to drive the discovery and development of innovative cancer treatments that benefit patients.
Pioneering scientific discoveries in cancer epigenetics
He is internationally known for his pioneering scientific discoveries in cancer epigenetics – showing how regulation of the way the DNA code is read can play an important role in the development of cancer.
His work provided preclinical proof that targeting epigenetic regulation could be a promising approach to treating cancer, and he also co-founded the biotech company EpiTherapeutics ApS which successfully discovered new prototype drugs targeted at the regulation of DNA transcription in cancer.
Luke Johnson, Chair of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “We believe Kristian will be an outstanding Chief Executive of the ICR, who will bring a global perspective on cancer research spanning both industry and academia, and across basic, translational and clinical research. His appointment is a sign of the strength of our ambition to remain at the cutting edge of cancer research and treatment, and our ability to attract top global talent to lead us forward in our mission to make the discoveries that defeat cancer.
“I want to thank Paul Workman who has been an inspirational and highly successful Chief Executive of the ICR during his seven years in the role. I am grateful to him for providing such a generous period of notice of his intention to step down, which has allowed us the time to appoint a truly exceptional successor who can build on his achievements.”
‘Delivering world-class research to benefit patients’
Professor Kristian Helin, Incoming Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “I’m excited to be coming in as the new Chief Executive of the ICR, and to have such a fantastic opportunity to lead an organisation that is at the forefront of scientific discovery and patient benefit.
“The ICR is known around the world both for fundamental scientific discoveries about cancer, and for working closely with The Royal Marsden and other partners to take those advances to patients through pioneering translational and clinical research. I am looking forward to working closely with colleagues in the NHS, academia, industry and at research funders to build on the ICR’s achievements so far, and ensure it continues to deliver world-class research that is closely focused on improving the lives of patients.”
An internationally renowned scientific leader
Professor Paul Workman, Outgoing Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “I’m delighted that I will be handing over the reins at the ICR to such an excellent, internationally renowned scientific leader. Kristian is a perfect fit for the ICR, as an outstanding scientist with global leadership experience who understands how to turn scientific advances on the biology of cancer into patient benefit through innovative translational and clinical research.”