Northern Institute for Cancer Research

Staff Profile

Professor Ian Hickson

Prof of Cancer Drug Discovery Bioscience



I obtained my PhD in Oncology from the Paterson Institute, Manchester, where I studied the use of modified DNA repair enzymes to reduce toxicity in patients undergoing chemotherapy. Following post-doctoral studies in the role of non-transcribed genes in breast cancer metastasis, I began my career in Drug Discovery with KuDOS Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, UK. Working on PARP, DNA-PK, ATM and ATR in the DNA damage response field and mTOR survival signalling, I was responsible for bioscience in the discovery, translation and early clinical development programs leading to a number of small molecules that have undergone clinical testing. 

I moved to Belgium in 2008 to join Janssen Pharmaceutica, the European pharmaceutical division of Johnson and Johnson, and led drug discovery projects in the areas of kinase inhibition, deubiquitylases, protein:protein interactions, transcription factors and nuclear hormone receptors. I also provided preclinical bioscience support for the development of the HDAC inhibitor quisinostat and the prostate cancer therapeutics, Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) and apalutamide (ARN-509). In 2013, I moved to the US to lead Janssen’s small molecule bioscience for Prostate Cancer, work resulting in the discovery of a novel pan antagonist of the androgen receptor, TRC253.

I have 20 years of bioscience experience in Oncology research, over 15 years of which have been in drug discovery within the pharmaceutical industry; my goal now is to identify the next drugs to bring benefit to cancer patients. The NICR team are united in that goal!


  • Head of Drug Discovery Bioscience


  • Cancer cell signalling
  • Cancer drug discovery and early development
  • Small molecule inhibitors
  • DNA repair
  • Prostate cancer therapeutics
  • Target validation
  • Assay development


  • BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, Bath University, 1994
  • PhD Oncology, University of Manchester, 1998


  • Principal Scientist, Oncology Research, Janssen; 2013 – 2016, Spring House PA, USA
  • Principal Scientist, Oncology Research, Janssen; 2008 – 2013, Beerse, Belgium
  • Team Leader, KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, 2004 – 2008
  • Senior Scientist, KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, 2000 – 2004


  • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
  • American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • Belgian Society of Environmental Mutagenesis (BEMS)
  • European School of Oncology (ESO)

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