Cancer biologist Professor Mel Greaves has been awarded the Cancer Research UK Lifetime Achievement Award* for his work investigating the causes of childhood leukaemia; it was announced at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool today, (Monday).

Professor Greaves has worked at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, for the last 30 years. He began his training in zoology and immunology gaining his PhD from University College London, and became interested in cancer research after a tour of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in the mid-1970s. He met children with leukaemia there at a time when very little was known about the disease.

He then began his lifelong work studying leukaemia. He wanted to improve diagnosis and treatment options for patients and find a way to prevent the disease. He worked at what became the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute** before moving to The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in 1984.

He continues his research today as founding director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the ICR.

We’re delighted to announce Professor Greaves as winner of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. His research into children’s leukaemia has immeasurably advanced the amount we now know about the disease. Professor Greaves and his research team changed how children with leukaemia are diagnosed and treated, allowing doctors to tailor treatment to the individual needs of a patient. He is a deserving winner and it’s very important to honour his lifetime commitment and dedication to the fight against leukaemia.

Dr David Scott, director of research funding, Cancer Research UK


I am delighted and honoured to receive this prestigious award from Cancer Research UK. Unpicking the complexities of biology, and cancer in particular, requires an interesting mix of creativity, persistence and teamwork. I am particularly pleased that the evolutionary principles I and my colleagues have applied to leukaemia have shed considerable light on its natural history and likely cause and have proved broadly applicable to cancer in general. Childhood leukaemia was once a universally fatal disease but is now curable in most patients. Our research highlights that it is potentially preventable.

Professor Greaves, Director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at The Institute of Cancer Research

Cancer Research UK is also awarding the Future Leader Award*** to Dr Chris Bakal from the ICR, Dr John Brognard from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and Dr Peter Van Loo from the Francis Crick Institute. This award recognises them as researchers who have demonstrated the potential to achieve world-leading status by producing international quality research.

The award for Translational Cancer Research**** is going to the Birmingham Epstein-Barr Virus Vaccine Team which is led by Professor Alan Rickinson. This prize recognises teams which make outstanding contributions to research that impacts the continuing efforts of doctors and nurses to prevent, diagnose and cure cancers.