University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS

Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS

President, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Senior Vice President for Cancer Services, UCSF Health
Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, UCSF
E. Dixon Heise Distinguished Professor in Oncology, UCSF

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Cancer Genetics

Research Summary

Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, is President of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Sr. Vice President for Cancer Services with UCSF Health. Prior to joining UCSF in January 2015, he served as Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Director of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre in London, United Kingdom.

A translational biologist and laboratory researcher, Ashworth's research focuses on understanding breast cancer genetics to improve the treatment and care of patients. He was a key part of the team that identified the BRCA2 breast cancer susceptibility gene that is linked to an increased risk for some types of cancer. Ten years later, he discovered how to kill BRCA1- and 2-related tumor cells by treating them with PARP inhibitors which are drugs that increase the damage caused by the broken DNA repair machinery in those cells. This exemplifies the principle of synthetic lethality as cancer therapy. Three different PARP inhibitors are now approved by the FDA.

In 2016, Ashworth and UCSF's Pamela Munster, MD, established the Center for BRCA Research, one of only two such centers in the US. The mission of the Center is to provide a place for families with BRCA and other mutations to receive personalized care and planning for their long-term health and well-being. He also started the San Francisco Cancer Initiative (SF CAN) that launched in 2016. SF CAN is the first comprehensive cancer plan for a major city and its partners include the City of San Francisco and numerous health and community organizations. Ashworth also chairs the UC Cancer Consortium, an alliance of the five UC cancer centers holding comprehensive cancer center status, the highest designation possible from the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute. The Consortium's projects include precision medicine, clinical trials, population health science, best practices in harnessing big data to improve health, and political engagement for public benefit.

Ashworth is an elected member of EMBO, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has received a number of scientific prizes and awards, including
The European Society of Medical Oncology Lifetime Achievement Award,
the David T. Workman Memorial Award of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, the Meyenburg Foundation's Cancer Research Award, the Basser Global Prize, the Genetics Society Medal, and the 2017 Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science from the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Education

1978 – 1981, BSc (Hons), Chemistry and Biochemistry, Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London
1981 – 1984, PhD, Biochemistry, University College London
1986 – 1988, Postdoctoral Fellow, The Institute of Cancer Research
1984 – 1986, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biochemistry, University College London

Honors & Awards

  • 2018
    Elected as Fellow, American Association for Cancer Research
  • 2018
    Pioneer Award, Precision Medicine World Conference
  • 2017
    Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science, Susan G. Komen
  • 2016
    Drexel Prize in Cancer Biology
  • 2016
    Appointed to American Association for Cancer Research Board of Directors
  • 2015
    Genetics Society Medal
  • 2015
    Spirit of Empowerment Award, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE)
  • 2013
    Basser Global Prize
  • 2012
    Scientist in Residence - University Duisberg-Essen/Essener Sparkasse
  • 2012
    Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland’s Goudie Medal
  • 2010
    AACR Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer, San Antonio
  • 2010
    Meyenburg Foundation Cancer Research Award
  • 2010
    Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation David Workman Memorial Award
  • 2009
    Elected Fellow of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences
  • 2009
    ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2008
    Elected Fellow of the Royal Society
  • 2002
    Elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences
  • 1999
    Elected to EMBO
  • 1991
    British Postgraduate Medical Federation Prize

Selected Publications

  1. Chen WS, Haynes WA, Waitz R, Kamath K, Vega-Crespo A, Shrestha R, Zhang M, Foye A, Baselga Carretero I, Perez Garcilazo I, Zhang M, Zhao SG, Sjöström M, Quigley DA, Chou J, Beer TM, Rettig MB, Gleave ME, Evans CP, Lara PN, Chi KN, Reiter RE, Alumkal JJ, Ashworth A, Aggarwal R, Small EJ, Daugherty PS, Ribas A, Oh DY, Shon JC, Feng FY. Autoantibody landscape in patients with advanced prostate cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Sep 23.
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  2. Dall GV, Vieusseux J, Seyed-Razavi Y, Godde N, Ludford-Menting M, Russell SM, Ashworth A, Anderson RL, Risbridger GP, Shackleton M, Britt KL. Parity reduces mammary repopulating activity but does not affect mammary stem cells defined as CD24?+?CD29/CD49fhi in mice. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2020 Oct; 183(3):565-575.
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  3. Sachdeva A, Gouge J, Kontovounisios C, Nikolaou S, Ashworth A, Lim K, Chong I. Klotho and the Treatment of Human Malignancies. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Jun 23; 12(6).
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  4. Rayter S, Elliott R, Travers J, Rowlands MG, Richardson TB, Boxall K, Jones K, Linardopoulos S, Workman P, Aherne W, Lord CJ, Ashworth A. Correction: A chemical inhibitor of PPM1D that selectively kills cells overexpressing PPM1D. Oncogene. 2020 Jun; 39(24):4780.
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  5. Brunton H, Caligiuri G, Cunningham R, Upstill-Goddard R, Bailey UM, Garner IM, Nourse C, Dreyer S, Jones M, Moran-Jones K, Wright DW, Paulus-Hock V, Nixon C, Thomson G, Jamieson NB, McGregor GA, Evers L, McKay CJ, Gulati A, Brough R, Bajrami I, Pettitt SJ, Dziubinski ML, Barry ST, Grützmann R, Brown R, Curry E, Pajic M, Musgrove EA, Petersen GM, Shanks E, Ashworth A, Crawford HC, Simeone DM, Froeling FEM, Lord CJ, Mukhopadhyay D, Pilarsky C, Grimmond SE, Morton JP, Sansom OJ, Chang DK, Bailey PJ, Biankin AV. HNF4A and GATA6 Loss Reveals Therapeutically Actionable Subtypes in Pancreatic Cancer. Cell Rep. 2020 May 12; 31(6):107625.
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  6. Gordon DE, Jang GM, Bouhaddou M, Xu J, Obernier K, White KM, O'Meara MJ, Rezelj VV, Guo JZ, Swaney DL, Tummino TA, Hüttenhain R, Kaake RM, Richards AL, Tutuncuoglu B, Foussard H, Batra J, Haas K, Modak M, Kim M, Haas P, Polacco BJ, Braberg H, Fabius JM, Eckhardt M, Soucheray M, Bennett MJ, Cakir M, McGregor MJ, Li Q, Meyer B, Roesch F, Vallet T, Mac Kain A, Miorin L, Moreno E, Naing ZZC, Zhou Y, Peng S, Shi Y, Zhang Z, Shen W, Kirby IT, Melnyk JE, Chorba JS, Lou K, Dai SA, Barrio-Hernandez I, Memon D, Hernandez-Armenta C, Lyu J, Mathy CJP, Perica T, Pilla KB, Ganesan SJ, Saltzberg DJ, Rakesh R, Liu X, Rosenthal SB, Calviello L, Venkataramanan S, Liboy-Lugo J, Lin Y, Huang XP, Liu Y, Wankowicz SA, Bohn M, Safari M, Ugur FS, Koh C, Savar NS, Tran QD, Shengjuler D, Fletcher SJ, O'Neal MC, Cai Y, Chang JCJ, Broadhurst DJ, Klippsten S, Sharp PP, Wenzell NA, Kuzuoglu-Ozturk D, Wang HY, Trenker R, Young JM, Cavero DA, Hiatt J, Roth TL, Rathore U, Subramanian A, Noack J, Hubert M, Stroud RM, Frankel AD, Rosenberg OS, Verba KA, Agard DA, Ott M, Emerman M, Jura N, von Zastrow M, Verdin E, Ashworth A, Schwartz O, d'Enfert C, Mukherjee S, Jacobson M, Malik HS, Fujimori DG, Ideker T, Craik CS, Floor SN, Fraser JS, Gross JD, Sali A, Roth BL, Ruggero D, Taunton J, Kortemme T, Beltrao P, Vignuzzi M, García-Sastre A, Shokat KM, Shoichet BK, Krogan NJ. A SARS-CoV-2 protein interaction map reveals targets for drug repurposing. Nature. 2020 07; 583(7816):459-468.
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  7. Cresswell GD, Nichol D, Spiteri I, Tari H, Zapata L, Heide T, Maley CC, Magnani L, Schiavon G, Ashworth A, Barry P, Sottoriva A. Mapping the breast cancer metastatic cascade onto ctDNA using genetic and epigenetic clonal tracking. Nat Commun. 2020 03 27; 11(1):1446.
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  8. Pierson WE, Peters PN, Chang MT, Chen LM, Quigley DA, Ashworth A, Chapman JS. An integrated molecular profile of endometrioid ovarian cancer. Gynecol Oncol. 2020 Apr; 157(1):55-61.
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  9. Charlesworth M, Garcia M, Head L, Barker JM, Ashworth AD, Barnard JB, Feddy L, Venkateswaran RV. Venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for postcardiotomy cardiogenic shock-A six-year service evaluation. Artif Organs. 2020 Jul; 44(7):709-716.
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  10. Chou J, Quigley DA, Robinson TM, Feng FY, Ashworth A. Transcription-Associated Cyclin-Dependent Kinases as Targets and Biomarkers for Cancer Therapy. Cancer Discov. 2020 Mar; 10(3):351-370.
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  11. Bodicoat DH, Schoemaker MJ, Jones ME, McFadden E, Griffin J, Ashworth A, Swerdlow AJ. Correction to: Timing of pubertal stages and breast cancer risk: the Breakthrough Generations Study. Breast Cancer Res. 2020 02 11; 22(1):19.
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  12. Thomas S, Stevenson D, Otu AA, Vergidis P, Barker J, Ashworth A, Exton P, Richardson M, George R, Moore G. Microbial contamination of heater cooler units used in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is not aerosolized into the environment: A single-center experience. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2020 02; 41(2):242-244.
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  13. Escala-Garcia M, Abraham J, Andrulis IL, Anton-Culver H, Arndt V, Ashworth A, Auer PL, Auvinen P, Beckmann MW, Beesley J, Behrens S, Benitez J, Bermisheva M, Blomqvist C, Blot W, Bogdanova NV, Bojesen SE, Bolla MK, Børresen-Dale AL, Brauch H, Brenner H, Brucker SY, Burwinkel B, Caldas C, Canzian F, Chang-Claude J, Chanock SJ, Chin SF, Clarke CL, Couch FJ, Cox A, Cross SS, Czene K, Daly MB, Dennis J, Devilee P, Dunn JA, Dunning AM, Dwek M, Earl HM, Eccles DM, Eliassen AH, Ellberg C, Evans DG, Fasching PA, Figueroa J, Flyger H, Gago-Dominguez M, Gapstur SM, García-Closas M, García-Sáenz JA, Gaudet MM, George A, Giles GG, Goldgar DE, González-Neira A, Grip M, Guénel P, Guo Q, Haiman CA, Håkansson N, Hamann U, Harrington PA, Hiller L, Hooning MJ, Hopper JL, Howell A, Huang CS, Huang G, Hunter DJ, Jakubowska A, John EM, Kaaks R, Kapoor PM, Keeman R, Kitahara CM, Koppert LB, Kraft P, Kristensen VN, Lambrechts D, Le Marchand L, Lejbkowicz F, Lindblom A, Lubinski J, Mannermaa A, Manoochehri M, Manoukian S, Margolin S, Martinez ME, Maurer T, Mavroudis D, Meindl A, Milne RL, Mulligan AM, Neuhausen SL, Nevanlinna H, Newman WG, Olshan AF, Olson JE, Olsson H, Orr N, Peterlongo P, Petridis C, Prentice RL, Presneau N, Punie K, Ramachandran D, Rennert G, Romero A, Sachchithananthan M, Saloustros E, Sawyer EJ, Schmutzler RK, Schwentner L, Scott C, Simard J, Sohn C, Southey MC, Swerdlow AJ, Tamimi RM, Tapper WJ, Teixeira MR, Terry MB, Thorne H, Tollenaar RAEM, Tomlinson I, Troester MA, Truong T, Turnbull C, Vachon CM, van der Kolk LE, Wang Q, Winqvist R, Wolk A, Yang XR, Ziogas A, Pharoah PDP, Hall P, Wessels LFA, Chenevix-Trench G, Bader GD, Dörk T, Easton DF, Canisius S, Schmidt MK. A network analysis to identify mediators of germline-driven differences in breast cancer prognosis. Nat Commun. 2020 01 16; 11(1):312.
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  14. Huang A, Garraway LA, Ashworth A, Weber B. Synthetic lethality as an engine for cancer drug target discovery. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2020 01; 19(1):23-38.
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  15. Lim K, Halim A, Lu TS, Ashworth A, Chong I. Klotho: A Major Shareholder in Vascular Aging Enterprises. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Sep 19; 20(18).
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  16. Ashworth AD, Greenhalgh DL. Strategies for the prevention of peri-operative transoesophageal echocardiography-related complications. Anaesthesia. 2020 01; 75(1):3-6.
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  17. Kothari V, Goodwin JF, Zhao SG, Drake JM, Yin Y, Chang SL, Evans JR, Wilder-Romans K, Gabbara K, Dylgjeri E, Chou J, Sun G, Tomlins SA, Mehra R, Hege K, Filvaroff EH, Schaeffer EM, Karnes RJ, Quigley DA, Rathkopf DE, He HH, Speers C, Spratt DE, Gilbert LA, Ashworth A, Chinnaiyan AM, Raj GV, Knudsen KE, Feng FY. DNA-Dependent Protein Kinase Drives Prostate Cancer Progression through Transcriptional Regulation of the Wnt Signaling Pathway. Clin Cancer Res. 2019 09 15; 25(18):5608-5622.
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  18. Velagapudi UK, Langelier MF, Delgado-Martin C, Diolaiti ME, Bakker S, Ashworth A, Patel BA, Shao X, Pascal JM, Talele TT. Design and Synthesis of Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors: Impact of Adenosine Pocket-Binding Motif Appendage to the 3-Oxo-2,3-dihydrobenzofuran-7-carboxamide on Potency and Selectivity. J Med Chem. 2019 06 13; 62(11):5330-5357.
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  19. Mondal G, Stevers M, Goode B, Ashworth A, Solomon DA. A requirement for STAG2 in replication fork progression creates a targetable synthetic lethality in cohesin-mutant cancers. Nat Commun. 2019 04 11; 10(1):1686.
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  20. Chabanon RM, Muirhead G, Krastev DB, Adam J, Morel D, Garrido M, Lamb A, Hénon C, Dorvault N, Rouanne M, Marlow R, Bajrami I, Cardeñosa ML, Konde A, Besse B, Ashworth A, Pettitt SJ, Haider S, Marabelle A, Tutt AN, Soria JC, Lord CJ, Postel-Vinay S. PARP inhibition enhances tumor cell-intrinsic immunity in ERCC1-deficient non-small cell lung cancer. J Clin Invest. 2019 03 01; 129(3):1211-1228.
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