Dr Rob Jones has recently replaced Professor John Chester as co-Lead at Cardiff ECMC. He tells us about his hopes for his new role within Cardiff ECMC.
Can you tell us a little about your background and why you got into clinical research?
I am dual trained in Medicine and Science. I originally carried out a BSc in Molecular Biology at UCL where I became fascinated with Oncology. I then completed my PhD in Nic Jones’s laboratory in London and worked very closely with Sir Paul Nurse’s lab. During that period I also had frequent interactions with clinicians which led to me applying to train in Medicine at Oxford. During my medical training I managed to carry out short research spells with Paul Russell and Frank McCormick in California before training as a Medical Oncologist in Glasgow. I was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology in Bristol and obtained a CRUK Clinician Scientist Fellowship carrying this out in Alan Clarke’s laboratory in Cardiff. I then made a permanent move to Cardiff to set up solid tumour Phase 1 trials and have continued to link with the labs from clinic since.
What is your research area of focus?
I have been Chief Investigator on two Combinations Alliance trials looking at addition of small molecules to hormone therapy in patients with Oestrogen Receptor positive Breast Cancer (FAKTION and FURVA) which reported at ASCO and ESMO in 2019 and 2020. I am also the clinical lead on a clinical initiative for a first in class Bcl3 inhibitor molecule that has been developed by Cardiff scientists. This is currently being developed as part of the Alderley Park project and we hope to get it into Phase 1 in the next 12 months. We also have an active cellular therapy group (Gallimore/Godkin) as well as a vaccine group (Parker) supported by CRUK program grants and we hope to have outputs from this research in the clinic over the next 3-5 years.
Are there any key challenges or emerging opportunities in this field at the moment?
As with all Research COVID-19 has had a significant impact over the last 18 months but we hope some of the accelerated practice models that evolved during COVID may be adopted more broadly going forward.
What are you most looking forward to in becoming joint Lead at Cardiff ECMC?
Cardiff has a strong collaborative ethos between Oncology and Haematology so I look forward to continuing this and developing it further with Oliver (Ottman) and his colleagues. We have the exciting prospect of developing a joint Haematology/Oncology clinical research hub at the University Hospital of Wales site over the next 12-24 months. This should lead to an expansion of our early phase capacity and provide new translational research opportunities. I am also looking forward to working more closely with colleagues across the UK
If you could be present at one scientific discovery, what would it be?
Discovery of another form of intelligent life in Space.