LUGANO, Switzerland – On the occasion of the ESMO Targeted Anticancer Therapies Virtual Congress 2021, the European Society for Medical Oncology is pleased to announce that Ruth Plummer, Clinical Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at the Newcastle University and Honorary Consultant Medical Oncologist in Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will receive the TAT 2021 Honorary Award in recognition of her relentless trial activity, which has taken many new cancer drugs into the clinic that have become standard treatments with proven patient benefit. (1)


Plummer runs a phase I all-comers practice, taking responsibility for one of the most active phase I units in the UK. Plummer also directs the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre and leads the Newcastle Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and CRUK Newcastle Cancer Centre. Her clinical practice also involves leading on the systemic therapies for skin cancer, with a portfolio of trials across all phases of drug development in skin cancers.

Her research interests are in the field of DNA repair and early phase clinical trials of novel agents, taking the first-in-class PARP inhibitor into the clinic in 2003, ATR inhibitor in 2012 and MCT1 inhibitor in 2014. (2) Her work also contributed to the development and validation of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic assays in early clinical drug development, assays that are now embedded in early phase trial design.

“I was delighted to be recognised in this way. Having spent my working life over the last 20 years developing the early phase trials practice in our dedicated cancer research unit, it is wonderful to realise that the work of this team is being recognised by ESMO. The ESMO Targeted Anticancer Therapies Congress is the home of phase I and being given their honorary award is recognition for the trials team that our work is being viewed as high quality,” said Plummer on accepting the Award.

“To be successful in any field having supportive mentors is key. I had the honour to have been mentored by outstanding and stimulating scientists and I hope to be a good mentor myself for the next generations of researchers that work with me,” she added.

On the future of the oncology drug development scenario, Plummer sees “a bright future with the better understanding of cancer biology and the availability of rapid testing for targetable changes. We are likely to see fewer large, randomised trials and the focus of clinical drug development will be within early phase rather than this being a stage to get through to reach phase III.”


  1. Prof. Plummer will deliver her keynote lecture entitled “Academic drug discovery – Is partnership with industry a marriage made in heaven?” during the TAT 2021 welcome session, Monday 1 March, from 11:40 to 12:45.
  2. In 2018 Prof. Plummer was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences for her work developing PARP inhibitors as novel cancer treatments for patients.