Dialog Box

Management Committee


The Management Committee is responsible for carrying out the operations of ICGC ARGO. It is led by the ICGC ARGO Executive Director, situated at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Membership includes Individuals with expertise and capacity in secretariat responsibilities, project development, technology development and business development, who are strategically located in global regions where ICGC ARGO projects are concentrated.

Management Committee Members:

Andrew Biankin, Executive Director

University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Andrew Biankin is a surgeon-scientist and Director of the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, where he established the Glasgow Precision Oncology Laboratory in 2016. Professor Biankin is also Chair of the UK-wide Precision-Panc programme of clinical trials for patients with pancreatic cancer. In 2019, Professor Biankin was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to medical research, and to the treatment of pancreatic cancer, as a clinician-scientist.

As a newly qualified surgeon in Sydney, Australia, Dr Biankin’s first experience with pancreatic cancer changed his career path. The patient was a 39-year-old woman who had presented with a small, 1cm pancreatic cancer with no spread to any other organs. The operation went well and under the microscope the prognosis was favourable, yet the cancer recurred rapidly and only 10 months from her initial diagnosis, the patient died.

‘Despite our assessments using the latest scans and world’s best pathologists, we still couldn’t predict pancreatic cancer behaviour, nor could we offer anything other than a general treatment’, said Professor Biankin.

At that point, he approached Professor Rob Sutherland, Director of the Cancer Research Program at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research to see if he might do PhD in pancreatic cancer research there. The project was an early personalised medicine approach that questioned why patients respond differently to treatment, despite the similarity of the tumours under the microscope.

He finished his PhD at the end of 2002 and published several papers. This led to an invitation to speak at a conference at Johns Hopkins University in the USA, where he was also presented with an award for excellence in translational research and offered a postdoctoral position there.

Dr Biankin returned to Sydney in 2005 to start a pancreatic cancer program at the Garvan. With less common cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, which is also a very high-mortality cancer, it is very difficult to gather patients in sufficient numbers to run trials, especially in a country like Australia with a low population. Collaboration with other researchers around the country is essential and Dr Biankin established the New South Wales Pancreatic Cancer Network, and then the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Network.

With senior surgeon Dr Neil Merrit, he established a hepatobiliary unit at Bankstown Hospital which grew rapidly, establishing a reputation as a skilled surgical unit for complex cancer surgery, and attracting funded fellows from around Australia and internationally. In 2007, in a move that was to become a signature strategy, Andrew then began integrating this clinical practice with the research he was conducting and developing the precision oncology agenda.

The large collaborative International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) was established at this time and with Professor Sean Grimmond from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience in Queensland, Professor Biankin established the pancreatic cancer arm of the ICGC – the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative (APGI). The APGI went on to map and upload the complete DNA read-outs for around 400 pancreatic cancers to the ICGC project, making it one of the largest sets of genome sequences for any cancer type. This work took pancreatic cancer from one of the least genetically characterised cancers to one of the best.

The capacity to sequence cancer genomes at large scale enabled Professor Biankin and his team to understand much more about the molecular diversity of pancreatic cancers and tumour evolution and much more about what was clinically and translationally relevant.

At that time, Professor Biankin’s mentor Professor Sutherland was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Following his surgery, Professor Biankin’s group sequenced the tumour, began a patient-derived xenograft project where the cells were used to grow the identical tumour in mice, made cell lines from it, and explored every millimetre of it to find the best treatment for him. Professor Sutherland recovered well from his surgery, but then suffered a recurrence, and while potential therapeutics had been identified, he delayed starting treatment due to work commitments and died in 2012.

From this experience, Professor Biankin focused on analytics and the importance of developing a molecular diagnostic/prognostic test that could guide treatment and accelerate the development of new treatments. This work began in the USA, but quickly encountered issues of the reliability, timeliness and cost of existing tests and scalability.

Following his move to Glasgow in 2013 to take up the Directorship of the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, Professor Biankin established the Glasgow Precision Oncology Laboratory (GPOL) to develop a molecular test to drive his planned precision oncology clinical trials program for pancreatic cancer – Precision-Panc. This has now become the Glasgow Cancer Test, which is currently being evaluated in the real-world setting of the NHS and will be available from November 2019 from Agilent Technologies.

Professor Biankin is a strong supporter of the concept of ‘learning healthcare systems’ that deliver the kind of large datasets that precision medicine needs to allow researchers to continually refine current treatments and develop new ones.

‘Finding the right way for precision medicine to work in healthcare systems is a bit like breaking a wartime code – the stakes are high and time is against us. Breaking the cancer code that connects the cancer genomes to the patient’s treatment is what drives me as a scientist and a doctor.’

Amber Johns, Project Developer

Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia

Amber’s research experience has focused on establishing and coordinating the development of complex, novel, large-scale research projects. Amber has clinical experience in pathology and cytology, and has been instrumental in building the Australian Pancreatic Genome Initiative (APGI) as part of Australia’s contribution to the International Cancer Genome Consortium.

Through the APGI, Amber developed and coordinated a national pancreatic cancer biobank network, with international linkage. Amber has the unique blend of clinical, community and scientific experience, which she has successfully applied in various settings with a range of stakeholders. Her unique skill set has been pivotal in the success of not only her own local groups, but providing a platform for cancer research groups across the world to thrive, through her ability to be the link between the research team, the clinical team, and patient and community groups.

Amber has extensive experience in ethical, policy and societal issues in research and currently advises the Federal Government in relation to genomic sequencing and the return of research results.

Jan Korbel

EMBL Heidelberg, Germany

Rita Lawlor

University of Verona, Italy

Rita T. Lawlor is a Health Research, ICT and privacy professional with 25 years’ management experience and a proven record of leading health and research innovation and delivering results. She has held Directorships and leading positions in biobanking and research organizations and has extensive international experience.

Rita Lawlor is co-founder of the ARC-Net applied cancer research centre where she coordinates research activities and runs the cancer biobank.

She has extensive project management experience and managed the Italian initiative in ICGC and is co-PI for the ARGO project. She currently coordinates the national Italian Cancer Research Association funded project “Clinically applicable biomarkers to early diagnosis, patient risk stratification and therapeutic response in pancreas cancer”.

She is a member of the steering committee of BC-NET (Biobank Cohort Network of Low Middle Income Countries) network of IARC (International Association for Research on Cancer). She is a former director of ISBER, International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (www.isber.org) and is past president of ESBB, the European, Middle Eastern and African Society for Biopreservation and Biobanking (www.esbb.org). She is currently on the board of the Italian Foundation for Pancreas diseases (FIMP).

Rita is originally a Computer Science graduate with a doctorate in translational biomedical sciences in Oncological Pathology. More recently she was conferred with a fellow of Information Privacy from IAPP (International Association of Privacy Professionals) and is chair of the ISBER GDPR Task Force.

Her current research interests are in molecular diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets and the role of cancer heterogeneity and molecular characterization of samples in the application of personalized medicine.

Keunchil Park

Samsung Medical Centre, South Korea

Keunchil Park is Professor of the Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Professor Park had served as Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Korean Cancer Association(KCA), Chair of the Lung Cancer Committee of the Korean Cancer Study Group (KCSG) and also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Korean Association for Clinical Oncology (KACO).

He is an active member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) and has been involved in many IASLC activities since 1996, including Scientific Secretary of the 12th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC; Sept, 2007), and President of the 4th Asia Pacific Lung Cancer Conference (Dec, 2010).  He also served the IASLC as the Board of Directors since 2009 to 2013.  More recently Prof. Park served as Co-President with Prof. Hisao Asamura of the 18th WCLC, Oct 15-18, 2017, Yokohama, Japan.  He received the Merit Award of IASLC in 2016.

Prof. Park is also actively involved in a variety of international activities of ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) as a member of the International Education Steering Group (IESG) and leads the ASCO Asia Pacific Regional Council being elected as Chair in 2019. He also served as Chair of the Korea Actionable Genome Consortium (KAGC) 2015-2018 and the Scientific Co-Chair for ESMO-Asia 2017 (Singapore, 16 -19, Nov. 2017).

Prof. Park is a member of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) Scientific Steering Committee since 2013 and served as Organizing Chairman of the 13th ICGC workshop, June 12-14, 2017 in Seoul, Korea. He was nominated as Steering Committee member of ICGC-ARGO (Accelerating Research in Genomic Oncology) which is the second phase of ICGC and launched in May, 2018 and recently appointed as Member of the Management Committee.

He is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (JTO) and Therapeutic Advances in Medical oncology, and Editorial Advisory Board member of Cancer.

His main interests include translational researches as well as early clinical trials for lung cancer. Prof. Park has led several early clinical trials of the targeted agents and immune check point inhibitors and pioneered in developing precision oncology for lung cancer. He also conducted many pre-clinical development programs as well as genomic researches. Prof. Park has several book chapters and authored more than 400 peer-reviewed publications in national and international journals.

Lincoln Stein

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Canada

Dr. Lincoln Stein focuses on supporting biomedical research both in Ontario and around the world by making large and complex biological datasets findable, accessible and usable.

Prior to joining OICR in 2006, Dr. Stein played an integral role in many large-scale data initiatives at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Genome Center. He led the development of the first physical clone map of the human genome, and ran the data coordinating centre and the data portal for the SNP Consortium and the HapMap Consortium. Dr. Stein has also led the creation and development of Wormbase, a community model organism database for C. elegans, and Reactome, which is now the largest open community database of biological reactions and pathways.

At OICR, Dr. Stein has led several international cancer data sharing and research initiatives, including the creation and development of the data coordination centre for the International Cancer Genome Consortium and other related projects. He continues to collaborate with national and international partners to create and promote data sharing standards, protocols and implementations.

Management Committee Contact:

Carol Nicol

ICGC ARGO Secretariat, United Kingdom

Email - secretariat@icgc-argo.org