Northern Institute for Cancer Research

Staff Profile

Emeritus Professor Herbie Newell

Emeritus Professor


David (Herbie) Newell is Emeritus Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at Newcastle University, England, UK.  He was Director of Translational Research at Cancer Research UK from 2006 to 2009, and interim Executive Director of Clinical and Translational Research in 2007/8.  He was the founding Scientific Director of the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle University, and is Past-Chairman of the British Association for Cancer Research and of the Laboratory Research Division of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer.  Professor Newell was involved in the development of the registered cytotoxic agents carboplatin (Paraplatin®) and ralitrexed (Tomudex®), and until his retirement in 2016 was working on the discovery and development of molecularly-targeted anticancer drugs and associated predictive and pharmacological biomarkers. 


Professor Newell was the lead pharmacologist on the team that discovered the first-in-class PARP inhibitor rucaparib (Rubraca®), for which the team were awarded the inaugural Cancer Research UK Translational Research Team prize.  Rucaparib was given “Breakthrough Therapy” status by the US FDA in April 2015 for the treatment of hereditary ovarian cancer, the only PARP inhibitor to have been accorded this designation, and was licensed by the US FDA in December 2016.  His specific drug discovery research interests include the identification of enzyme and protein-protein interaction inhibitors, using both structural biology and computational chemistry, and their evaluation in pre-clinical tumour models.  Imaging techniques where Professor Newell has research interests include both pre-clinical and clinical Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and imaging.  He is an author of over 230 scientific articles and was Editor-in-Chief of the journal Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology until 2016.  In addition to his academic work, Professor Newell has consulted extensively for both pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and speaks widely at public meetings on behalf of Cancer Research UK. 


Until 2016, Professor Newell chaired the Medical Research Council Development Pathway Funding Scheme and Confidence-in-Concept Committees, and the Cancer Research Technology Pioneer Fund Advisory Board.  He has served on numerous international translational cancer research review panels, most recently in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Malaysia. In 2011, Professor Newell was elected to the UK Academy of Medical Sciences.

Areas of expertise

  • Cancer pharmacology
  • Drug discovery