Cancer Research UK promotes director of research to top comms job

Ian Walker has been appointed executive director of policy, information and communications at Cancer Research UK.

Ian Walker has worked within Cancer Research UK for 15 years
Ian Walker has worked within Cancer Research UK for 15 years

Ian Walker's new role, which he takes up next month, marks a promotion from his current position as CRUK's director of research.

He will join the charity's executive board in March – taking over from Sarah Woolnough, former executive director of policy and information. 

She left in October to become chief executive of the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation partnership. Jo Cooke, CRUK’s director of brand and marketing, has been interim executive director of policy, information and comms since Woolnough’s departure. 

Reporting to Michelle Mitchell, CRUK's chief executive, Walker will be responsible for its work as “a trusted source for clear and up-to-date cancer information, alongside driving forward the charity’s efforts to influence government policy, particularly on key areas of prevention and early diagnosis of cancer,” according to the announcement of his promotion.

He will oversee the charity's comms as well as the clinical engagement and intelligence department.

Walker joined the charity 15 years ago and has advised on several of its major campaigns to inform government policy on the provision of life-saving cancer research. He also played a “pivotal part in the effort to push for the protection and restoration of clinical research activity within the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Commenting on his new post, Walker said: “I’m very much looking forward to taking on this role, leading Cancer Research UK’s Policy, Information and Communications directorate.  Like many people, cancer has affected my family and I know only too well the devastating impact this disease can have.”

He added: “In the face of huge disruption to cancer care and research, one of the most inspiring aspects of this new role is the opportunity to help make a real and immediate difference for those affected by cancer.”

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK said: “I’m thrilled Ian will be taking on this role and welcome him to the executive board. The breadth of experience he has amassed at Cancer Research UK and his passion for improving cancer outcomes makes him ideally placed to lead the charity’s ongoing work to provide a strong voice for those affected by cancer at this critical time.”

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