Professor Pamela Kearns MBChB, BSc (Hons), PhD, FRCPCH

Professor Pamela Kearns

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
Director of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
Professor of Clinical Paediatric Oncology
Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Oncology

Contact details

Address
Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT

Pam Kearns is Professor of Clinical Paediatric Oncology at the University of Birmingham and an Honorary Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital. She is Director of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences .

She held the position of Director of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit (CRCTU) from 2012 to 2023. As Director of CRCTU, she led the research strategy for one of UK's largest cancer trials unit, delivering a trials portfolio of over 100 multi-centre and international cancer trials for a wide-range of cancers, occurring in all children, young people and adults, notably leading the National Children’s Cancer Trials Team responsible the vast majority of UK’s clinical trial portfolio for children and young people with cancer. Her research is focussed on research in childhood acute leukaemias and lymphomas and drug development and innovation in the design and delivery of clinical trials for childhood cancers.   

She was President of the European Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP Europe) from 2019-2021, having been a Board member since 2013 and now continues to serve on the Board leading strategic projects in data science and clinical trials. She has several other European roles including President of the academic consortium ‘Innovative Therapeutics in Childhood Cancer’ (ITCC) and a Steering Committee member of the International multi-stakeholder platform ‘ACCELERATE’.

She is a Trustee for Cancer Research UK as well as Chair of the Board of Trustees of A Child of Mine, a charity dedicated to supporting bereaved parents. She is also Chair of the Research Assessment Panel for GOSH Charity, Chair of The Independent Scientific Advisory Panel for Bone Cancer Research Trust and a Trusted Advisor to the Little Princess Trust and Scientific advisor to the Board of Trustees of Children with Cancer.

Qualifications

  •  Fellowship of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health 2009
  •  Certificate of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Newcastle 2000
  •  PhD (LLR Clinical Training Fellowship), University of Newcastle 2000
  •  Membership of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health 1996
  •  Diploma in Medical Sciences, University of Newcastle
  •  Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (UK) Paediatrics 1993
  •  MBChB, Aberdeen University 1988
  •  BSc Honours. 2(1) Physiology, Aberdeen University 1982

Biography

As Professor of Clinical Paediatric Oncology, Pam’s clinical interests are in childhood cancers and lymphomas. Her laboratory interests are in the development of novel treatment approaches for haematological malignancies. 

In 1982 Professor Kearns was awarded a BSc (Hons) in Physiology from the University of Aberdeen where she subsequently studied Medicine qualifying in 1988.  She was awarded a PhD in leukaemia biology from the Newcastle University in 2000, where she also completed her postgraduate training in paediatric oncology.  She was appointed Senior Lecturer/Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Oncology at the University of Bristol in 2002 and moved to Birmingham in 2007, where she further developed her research in childhood acute leukaemias and lymphomas, focussing on pre-clinical models and early phase drug development trials for evaluation of novel therapies.  She was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in 2009.  

Since 2012 to 2023, Professor Kearns was the Director of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit, University of Birmingham where she led the research strategy for UK's largest cancer trials unit.

Pam’s principal research interest is in clinical trials research in childhood cancer. Through her roles within the University of Birmingham, Cancer Research UK and SIOP-Europe, she provides national and international support and guidance on research governance, regulatory affairs and research ethics in relation to clinical trials. Since 2010, she served on the Executive Board of the European consortium for Innovative Therapeutics for Children with Cancer (ITCC); a consortium developing new treatments for childhood cancers and leukaemias through International partnerships and became President January 2024. Until recently, she chaired the ITCC’s Sponsor Committee bringing together academic trial sponsors from 7 countries developing and delivering a platform of harmonized efficient processes to accelerate delivery of academic early phase childhood cancer trials in Europe and beyond.

Teaching

Postgraduate supervision

Pam supervises clinical and non-clinical PhD students in various areas of pre-clinical in vitro and in vivo models for haematological malignancies, including currently in hodgkins and non-hodgkins lymphoma and evaluation of the paediatric immune system in childhood cancers.

Doctoral research

PhD title
The role of glutathione and glutathione S-transferases in childhood leukaemia

Research

Research Themes

  • Primograft model for pre-clinical evaluation of novel therapies in haematological malignancies including models of both leukaemia and B cell lymphomas.

  • Laboratory research focused on developing primograft models of human childhood leukaemias in immunocompromised mice to evaluate new drug treatments and their mechanistic pathways. More recently this work has extended to in vivo models of lymphomas, both Hodgkins and Non-Hodglkins to investigated the tumour microenvironment and evaluate the impact of immune-modulation on the microenvironment as a novel therapeutic approach for paediatric lymphomas.

Research Centre

Cancer Research Clinical Trials Unit

Other activities

Current Positions

  • Director of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences,  University of Birmingham (October 2019 – to date)
  • Professor in Clinical Paediatric Oncology, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham (March 2014 – to date)  
  • Director of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham (July 2012 – December 2023)
  • Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Oncology, Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust (February 2007 – to date)

Committees

Current University of Birmingham (UoB) / Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) Committees:

  • UoB Council elected academic representative 2022 to date
  • UoB Senate Elected member, (Nov 2016 to 2019 and 2022-to date)
  • International Clinical Trials Sub-Committee of UoB STEM Ethical Review Committee (June 2018- to date)
  • BHP Clinical Trials Group (Chair August 2018 to date)
  • Birmingham ECMC Steering Committee (November 2016 to date)
  • Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital Sponsorship Oversight Group (April 2018 to date)
  • UoB Clinical Trials Oversight Committee (CTOC) (Chair 2012- 2014, Vice Chair 2015-to date)
  • College of Medical and Dental Sciences Cancer Strategy Board (October 2017 to date)
  • BHP Clinical Trials Grant Development & Set-up Group (Chair August 2018 to date)
  • Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences REF Reading Group (November 2015 to date)
  • Birmingham ECMC Steering Committee (November 2016 to date)
  • CRUK Birmingham Centre Management Group  (October 2017 to date)
  • University Hospitals Birmingham Cancer Research Steering Group (October 2013 to date)
  • Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital Sponsorship Oversight Group (April 2018 to date)
  • Midland & Wales Advanced Therapies Treatment Centre (MW-ATTC) Consortium Executive (April 2018 to date)

External Committees

Current National Committees:

  • ECMC Paediatric Strategy Committee (February 2018-to date)
  • National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Childhood Cancer and Leukaemia Clinical Study Group (April 2010 to date)
  • CRUK New Agents Committee (January 2013- to date)
  • National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Childhood Cancer and Leukaemia Clinical Study Group (April 2010 to date)
  • NCRI Childhood Cancer and Leukaemia New Agents Sub-Group (April 2010 to date)
  • Bone Cancer Research Trust BCRT Independent Scientific Advisory Panel (April 2013 to date. Chair from December 2016 to date)
  • UKCRC Board (on behalf of CRUK, January 2016 to date)

Previous National Committees:

  • Senior Clinical Advisor to Cancer Research UK (P/T September 2015 - 2020)
  • CCLG Biological Studies Steering Group (Member 2003-2009 and Chair 2005-2009)
  • Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Cell Bank Steering Committee (2005 - 2012)
  • Leukaemia Research Fund Clinical Trials Advisory Panel (2003 - 2009)
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) College Specialist Advisory Committee: academic representative (September 2009 to March 2015)
  • West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network Clinical Trials Advisory Group (April 2014 to August 2016)

Current International Committees:

  • European Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP-E) Executive Board Member (January 2013-to date, President –January 2019 – January 2022)
  • Innovative Therapeutics in Childhood Cancer (ITCC) Executive Board and Treasurer (July 2010 to date) President from 1st January 2024)
  • ACCELERATE (an International multi-stakeholder platform to accelerate innovation for children and adolescents with cancer) Board Member and Steering Committee (June 2018 to date)
  • The Pediatric Acute Leukemia Initiative (PedAL) International Scientific Advisory Committee (2020-to date)
  • US Pediatric Cancer Data for the Common Good Scientific Advisory Committee (2021- to date)
  • Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute (Dublin) External Advisory Board (October 2022-to date)
  • AstraZeneca Paediatric Oncology Steering Committee (2019- to date)
  • International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) Board Member (January 2019- to date)
  • European Cancer Confederation (ECCO) Board Member (January 2019- to date)

Previous International Committees:

  • SIOP-E European Clinical Research Council, Vice-Chair (December 2012 to 2015)
  • ITCC Clinical Trial Committee (July 2010 to November 2014)
  • International-BFM Study Group Early Clinical Trials Committee (Founder Member and Co-chair 2006 to 2016)
  • Data Safety Monitoring Committee for Nordic Society of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology (NOPHO) randomised controlled trial for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (2009 to 2016; trial completed)

Publications

Recent publications

Article

Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer (ITCC) Consortium & European Association for Neuroblastoma Research (SIOPEN) 2024, 'Bevacizumab, Irinotecan, or Topotecan Added to Temozolomide for Children With Relapsed and Refractory Neuroblastoma: Results of the ITCC-SIOPEN BEACON-Neuroblastoma Trial', Journal of Clinical Oncology. https://doi.org/10.1200/JCO.23.00458

Chisholm, J, Mandeville, H, Adams, M, Minard-Collin, V, Rogers, T, Kelsey, A, Shipley, J, van Rijn, RR, de Vries, I, van Ewijk, R, de Keizer, B, Gatz, SA, Casanova, M, Hjalgrim, LL, Firth, C, Wheatley, K, Kearns, P, Liu, W, Kirkham, A, Rees, H, Bisogno, G, Wasti, A, Wakeling, S, Heenen, D, Tweddle, DA, Merks, JHM, Jenney, M & Heymann, D (ed.) 2024, 'Frontline and Relapsed Rhabdomyosarcoma (FAR-RMS) Clinical Trial: A Report from the European Paediatric Soft Tissue Sarcoma Study Group (EpSSG)', Cancers, vol. 16, no. 5, 998. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers16050998

OCTAVE-DUO investigators 2024, 'Immunogenicity of third dose COVID-19 vaccine strategies in patients who are immunocompromised with suboptimal immunity following two doses (OCTAVE-DUO): an open-label, multicentre, randomised, controlled, phase 3 trial', The Lancet Rheumatology. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2665-9913(24)00065-1

Perry, TA, Masand, N, Vrzalikova, K, Pugh, M, Wei, W, Hollows, R, Bouchalova, K, Nohtani, M, Fennell, E, Bouchal, J, Kearns, P & Murray, PG 2024, 'The Oncogenic Lipid Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Impedes the Phagocytosis of Tumor Cells by M1 Macrophages in Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma', Cancers, vol. 16, no. 3, 574. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers16030574

Janssens, GO, Timmermann, B, Laprie, A, Mandeville, H, Padovani, L, Chargari, C, Kearns, P, Kozhaeva, O, Kameric, L, Kienesberger, A, van Rossum, PSN, Boterberg, T, Lievens, Y & Vassal, G 2024, 'The organization of care in pediatric radiotherapy across SIOP Europe affiliated centers: A multicenter survey in the framework of the 'Joint Action on Rare Cancers' project', Radiotherapy & Oncology, vol. 191, 110075. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.radonc.2023.110075

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMC) CID trials working group, Blagden, SP, Yu, L-M, Ellis, S, Hughes, H, Shaaban, A, Fennelly-Barnwell, J, Lythgoe, MP, Cooper, AM, Maignen, FM, Buckland, SW, Kearns, PR & Brown, LC 2023, 'Additional consensus recommendations for conducting complex innovative trials of oncology agents: a post-pandemic perspective', British Journal of Cancer, vol. 128, no. 3, pp. 474-477. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-022-02051-7

de Rojas, T, Kearns, P, Blanc, P, Skolnik, J, Fox, E, Knox, L, Rousseau, R, Doz, F, Bird, N, Pearson, AJ & Vassal, G 2023, 'Changing incentives to ACCELERATE drug development for paediatric cancer', Cancer Medicine, vol. 12, no. 7, pp. 8825-8837. https://doi.org/10.1002/cam4.5627

Moreno, L, DuBois, SG, Glade Bender, J, Mauguen, A, Bird, N, Buenger, V, Casanova, M, Doz, F, Fox, E, Gore, L, Hawkins, DS, Izraeli, S, Jones, DTW, Kearns, PR, Molenaar, JJ, Nysom, K, Pfister, S, Reaman, G, Smith, M, Weigel, B, Vassal, G, Zwaan, CM, Paoletti, X, Iasonos, A & Pearson, ADJ 2023, 'Combination Early-Phase Trials of Anticancer Agents in Children and Adolescents', Journal of Clinical Oncology . https://doi.org/10.1200/JCO.22.02430

Retzer, A, Baddeley, E, Sivell, S, Scott, H, Nelson, A, Bulbeck, H, Seddon, K, Grant, R, Adams, R, Watts, C, Aiyegbusi, OL, Kearns, P, Cruz Rivera, S, Dirven, L, Calvert, M & Byrne, A 2023, 'Development of a core outcome set for use in adult primary glioma phase III interventional trials: A mixed methods study', Neuro-oncology advances. https://doi.org/10.1093/noajnl/vdad096

PITCH Consortium, CONSENSUS & OCTAVE Collaborative Group 2023, 'SARS-CoV-2-specific immune responses and clinical outcomes after COVID-19 vaccination in patients with immune-suppressive disease', Nature Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-023-02414-4

Aggarwal, A, Choudhury, A, Fearnhead, NS, Kearns, P, Kirby, A, Lawler, M, Quinlan, S, Palmieri, C, Roques, T, Simcock, R, Walter, FM, Price, P & Sullivan, R 2023, 'The future of cancer care in the UK—time for a radical and sustainable National Cancer Plan', The Lancet Oncology. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(23)00511-9

Millen, GC, Arnold, R, Cazier, J-B, Curley, H, Feltbower, R, Gamble, A, Glaser, A, Grundy, RG, Kirton, L, Lee, LYW, McCabe, MG, Palles, C, Phillips, B, Stiller, CA, Varnai, C & Kearns, P 2022, 'COVID-19 in children with haematological malignancies', Archives of Disease in Childhood, vol. 107, no. 2, pp. 186-188. https://doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2021-322062

Comment/debate

Wilson, JS, Main, C, Thorp, N, Taylor, RE, Majothi, S, Kearns, PR, English, M, Dandapani, M, Phillips, R, Wheatley, K & Pizer, B 2024, 'Correction to: The effectiveness and safety of proton beam radiation therapy in children and young adults with Central Nervous System (CNS) tumours: a systematic review', Journal of Neuro-Oncology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11060-024-04612-7

Letter

O’Connor, D, Joy, M, Enshaei, A, Kirkwood, A, Kearns, PR, Samarasinghe, S, Moppett, J, Moorman, AV & Vora, A 2023, 'Cranial radiotherapy has minimal benefit in children with central nervous system involvement in T-ALL', Blood Advances. https://doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2023011267

Review article

Wilson, JS, Main, C, Thorp, N, Taylor, RE, Majothi, S, Kearns, PR, English, M, Dandapani, M, Phillips, R, Wheatley, K & Pizer, B 2024, 'The effectiveness and safety of proton beam radiation therapy in children and young adults with Central Nervous System (CNS) tumours: a systematic review', Journal of Neuro-Oncology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11060-023-04510-4

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