Ashok Venkitaraman, MA, MB BS, PhD, FMedSci
Chief Scientific Officer
Ashok is the Ursula Zoellner Professor of Cancer Research at the University of Cambridge, and the Director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cancer Unit there. He is a physician-scientist who qualified in medicine at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, India, before completing his Ph.D. at University College London, and his postdoctoral work at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Ashok’s first faculty position was also at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, before his election as the inaugural holder of the Zoellner Professorship.
Ashok is internationally recognized for his contributions to understanding the genetics and biology of cancer, particularly in elucidating the impact of genome instability in carcinogenesis and cancer therapy. His research has not only illuminated the fundamental mechanisms governing genome repair, replication and segregation during cell division, but has also provided insight into their connections with cancer pathogenesis and treatment.
Translation of these insights to clinical practice is a major focus in Ashok’s current work. He leads a multidisciplinary initiative in Cambridge that aims to pioneer new approaches for chemical biology and the development of small-molecule therapeutics against cancer. He directs the Centre for Chemical Biology and Therapeutics at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, which mirrors these aims. Ashok has worked extensively with industry, and for over a decade, has held scientific advisory board appointments with companies advancing biologic (eg., Cambridge Antibody Technology/MedImmune) or small-molecule therapies (eg., Astex, Sentinel Oncology) for cancer.
Ashok has been elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, London, and a Member of the EMBO European academy, Heidelberg.