Professor Tim Illidge awarded a Fellowship of The Academy of Medical Sciences
In recognition of his radiotherapy and lymphoma research
On 11th May 2022, Professor Tim Illidge was awarded a Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences for his continued contributions to the Medical Sciences. Specifically, Tim was recognised for his research work in radiotherapy, immunotherapy and lymphoma. We spoke to Tim to discover more about this work on radiotherapy, antibodies and lymphoma and how this contributed to his recently awarded Fellowship.
I am thrilled to receive a Fellowship of The Academy of Medical Sciences and I am extremely grateful for the support and collaboration of the outstanding colleagues I have been fortunate to work with in my research career.
Professor Tim Illidge
Professor of Targeted Therapy and Oncology, The University of Manchester and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology at The Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
International Innovation in translational research
Radiotherapy and Antibodies
Prof. Tim Illidge’s work into the immunomodulatory effects of radiotherapy (RT) made the discovery that RT could initiate the adaptive resistance of a tumour cell. He demonstrated that RT induced resistance could be therapeutically overcome by combining RT with ‘anti-PD1 antibodies’. These findings underpinned the global expansion of research in this area and resulted in funding from the pharmaceutical industry, leading to the inception of hundreds of clinical trials worldwide investigating these effects.
Additionally, his work combining RT and novel intravenous tolls has resulted in industry investment and a recent Cancer Research UK Accelerator Award collaborating across Europe with Tim being the UK lead.
During his career, Tim discovered a novel mechanism of antibody induced direct tumour cell death which led to the development of a new class of anti-CD20 antibody (Obinutuzumab). This has resulted in improved survival and changed clinical practice in B-cell malignancies.
Tim has been funded by CRUK for his critical approaches to RT and immunotherapy for over 25-years, and is one of the few clinicians who sits on the CRUK Discovery Research Committee.
International leadership on RT and novel antibody treatments
Tim was the first in the EU to use the antibody drug conjugate Brentuximab Vedotin (BV) in T-cell lymphomas. He designed a Phase 3 randomised trial, namely ECHELON-2 which used BV and demonstrated an improvement in overall survival for patients with T-cell lymphoma over standard CHOP chemotherapy. Following this, Tim led the successful approval of BV in 2020 by European Medicines Agency and Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use. He is now global lead for the follow-on study to this in T-cell lymphoma which opened in 2021.
Tim’s clinical research leadership has also led to changes in practice in Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL). A trial he designed has led to the personalisation of patient management meaning some patients do not require follow up RT if they receive a negative PET scan.
In addition, his recent research has provided further insights into minimising the risk of radiation-related cardiovascular disease to help further personalise the delivery of RT in HL.
He led globally in reducing the side of the RT field and volume of normal tissue exposed to radiation through developing the concept of Involved Site Radiotherapy (ISRT). This has changed lymphoma practice worldwide and forms part of all international guidelines.
About Prof. Tim Illidge
Professor Timothy Illidge is a world-leading clinical scientist whose work is centred around the interaction between radiotherapy and immunotherapy. His research has initiated a novel area focused on the immunomodulatory effects (modulation of the immune system) of radiotherapy. It has also led to the inception of practice-changing clinical trials which have seen improved cancer outcomes and reinvigorated radiotherapy research in the UK.
He has previously been awarded The Royal College of Radiologists Gold medal 2018 and Senior NIHR Investigator 2019 in recognition of his clinical leadership and impact in radiotherapy and oncology.
He was the first chair of the NCRI clinical and translational radiotherapy group (CTRad) which led to a 30% increase in national RT clinical trial activity. He is currently the national clinical lead of the radiotherapy transformation programme and radiotherapy learning health care system advising NHSE.
The new fellows are advancing biomedical sciences in innovative ways for a broad range of health challenges.
The Academy of Medical Sciences
The Academy of Medical Sciences
A Fellowship to The Academy of Medical Sciences is a prestigious accolade that is awarded for one’s exceptional contribution and dedication to Medical Sciences. Professor Timothy Illidge (Professor of Targeted Therapy and Oncology, The University of Manchester and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology at The Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) was the latest recipient of this award. Professor Illidge discusses the work behind this award and what receiving this fellowship means to him.