Cancer Research UK appoints new director

Ian Walker will move from within the charity to become its director of policy, information and communications

Cancer Research UK has appointed a new executive director to lead on its policy development, communications and clinical engagement.

Ian Walker will join the charity’s executive board in March as director of policy, information and communications.

He will succeed Sarah Woolnough, who left the charity in October last year after 15 years.

Walker has also been at CRUK for 15 years, having overseen its national clinical network and led its Early Detection of Cancer programme.

In his most recent role as director of research, which is not a board-level post, he has overseen the charity’s £350m research budget and has been pushing for the protection and restoration of clinical research activity within the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity said. 

Walker is also a trustee at the Association of Medical Research Charities. 

The AMRC warned last year that non-commercial medical research spending has fallen by £310m during the coronavirus outbreak and could take over four years to return to pre-crisis levels.

At the same time, CRUK revealed it would have to reduce its spending on research by £150m over the next four to five years because of the impact of the pandemic.

Walker said: “In the face of huge disruption to cancer care and research, one of the most inspiring aspects of this new role is the opportunity to help make a real and immediate difference for those affected by cancer.”

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of CRUK, said of Walker: “The breadth of experience he has amassed at Cancer Research UK and his passion for improving cancer outcomes makes him ideally placed to lead the charity’s ongoing work.”

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