The Royal Marsden

Celebrating a decade of pioneering drug development

Staff at the Oak Foundation Drug Development Unit (DDU) have celebrated a decade of innovation by showcasing the work of the unit to patients, relatives and hospital colleagues at a special evening event
The Drug Development Unit has treated 6,000 patients on drug trials since 2005

The Drug Development Unit has treated 6,000 patients on drug trials since 2005

More than 130 people attended the event, which involved presentations from key members of staff and informal information stands set up by DDU colleagues.

Funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and run in partnership with The Institute of Cancer Research, the unit at the Sutton hospital has treated 6,000 patients on pioneering Phase I drug trials since it opened in 2005. Professor Johann de Bono, Head of Drug Development and an Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Royal Marsden, said:

“When we first opened, we had only 10 staff. Over the years, we have grown into a 100-strong team and have had a global impact with novel drug treatments such as abiraterone. Time is precious, so we maximise benefit and work hard to minimise side effects for our patients. We translate complex scientific information into treatment that works.”

“It is a very exciting time in cancer medicine. The next step will be the genomic profiling of all patients at the start of treatment.”

Angela Little, DDU Matron, said: “I was pleased that patients were able to meet the entire DDU team and understand how their work benefits their treatment. It was also very emotional but important for staff to hear the patients’ stories. The success is a team effort.”

Our patients’ DDU experiences


“Cancer is a time thief, but the DDU has given it back, enabling me to have fun conversations with my grandson, see one of my granddaughters win five swimming gold medals, and see my eldest granddaughter become head girl. I would not be here without The Royal Marsden as I was told my bladder cancer was untreatable. I will always be grateful to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity for funding this wonderful unit.”


“When I first walked into the DDU, I had not been able to work for a long time due to treatment for ovarian cancer. I was willing to try anything. Without the drug trial and the compassion of the DDU staff, I would not be here and thriving. The staff have always put me at the heart of my treatment, and I am able to work, travel and live abroad in between my treatments.”


“When I started the trial at the DDU for non-small cell lung carcinoma, I immediately felt better. I am now strong enough to be back singing with my choir, which I never thought I would be able to do. Singing has been part of my life since I was a child, so to be able to carry on with that is really important to me, as is travelling with my husband. There really is something about the DDU that makes it such an incredible place — I actually enjoy coming in for my treatment.”