Luke Johnson, leading entrepreneur, takes the helm at The Institute of Cancer Research

Luke Johnson, one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and former Chairman of Channel 4, has been appointed as Chairman of The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

Johnson runs private equity firm Risk Capital Partners and has a formidable reputation as one of the brightest minds in British business – famous in particular for building up restaurant chains Pizza Express, Strada and Giraffe.

He will now direct his trademark dynamism and business acumen to building on the successes of The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) – already one of the world’s most influential cancer research institutes – and cementing its position on the world stage.

Johnson will take over as Chairman on 1 August from Lord Ryder of Wensum, former Acting Chairman of the BBC and Conservative Chief Whip, who has led the ICR for the last seven and a half years.

Lord Ryder has guided the ICR to a period of unprecedented success, taking it to its current position as the UK’s leading academic research centre, and the world’s most successful academic drug discovery centre.

Johnson becomes Chairman at a time when the world of cancer research has never been more competitive, but at a time of unprecedented opportunity, with huge advances in genomics opening up a new era of personalised medicine.

At Channel 4, he took over one of Britain’s leading media organisations and led it to record ratings and numerous awards successes, while as Chairman of the Royal Society of Arts, he championed the formation of a network of academies.

Johnson is therefore considered the ideal man to build on Lord Ryder’s legacy and take the ICR to the next level, by firmly establishing it as one of the world’s leading and best-known cancer research organisations.

Professor Alan Ashworth, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “I am delighted to welcome Luke to the ICR and am convinced that his dynamic influence will help us build on our current successes and take us to the next level. This a pivotal time for cancer research, as technological advances put us on the brink of a new era of personalised medicine. The ICR has plans to deliver a world-leading and ambitious new approach to cancer treatment driven by our cutting-edge research, and Luke has the credentials to help us realise those ambitions. I would like to pay tribute to our current Chairman Lord Ryder, who has laid the rock-solid foundations on which our new Chairman will build.”

Luke Johnson, Chairman Elect of The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “I am thrilled to be taking up this position at one of the world’s most influential cancer research institutes, with such an impressive track record of achievement. I was attracted by the ICR’s ethos of research for patient benefit, and by its astonishing record of success in cancer genetics and new targeted therapeutics. I hope to use my business experience to help maximise the ICR’s opportunities for collaboration and innovation, and to build its brand as a world-leading research institution.”Johnson may have made his reputation as one of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs, but with this appointment he is to some degree coming full circle, having begun his career by studying physiology at the University of Oxford.

He has direct experience in the health sector, having co-founded Integrated Dental Holdings, Britain’s largest chain of dental surgeries, of which he was an owner and director for 10 years.

He has also for many years devoted a day a week of his time to the not-for-profit sector, and has family connections with the health sector through his wife’s role as a leading NHS pharmacist.