Petty, Russell


1994 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile


Professor Russell Petty is a graduate of University of Dundee School of Medicine and he completed his initial general medical training in Dundee, Newcastle, and Hobart, then specialist and academic training in Medical Oncology in Aberdeen and Auckland. In 2007 he was appointed as a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology at the University of Aberdeen and promoted to Professor of Medical Oncology in 2014. In September 2015 he was appointed as Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Dundee and honorary consultant in Medical Oncology in Ninewells Hospital, NHS Tayside.

His main research interests are in clinical and translational research in gastro-oesophageal cancers. He was the chief investigator of the recently completed COG trial which was the first Phase III randomised controlled trial of second line therapy in oesophageal cancer and lead the translational arm TRANSCOG which identified a predictive biomarker for a gefitinib responsive subgroup of tumours. He is a current member of the trial management groups for several UK national clinical trials in gastroesophageal cancer including PLATFORM and GO-2 and the translational research lead for TRANS-GO2 and TRANSCOG2.

Professor Petty is the current speciality adviser in Medical Oncology to the Chief Medical officer in Scotland. He acts as a clinical expert for SMC and NICE and recently contributed to the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee enquiry in to access to new medicines in Scotland and the reform of SMC process for evaluation of new medicines which included the development of the patient and clinician engagement (PACE) process. He is a current member of the NCRN UGI cancers clinical study group and the EORTC gastric cancer task force and a member of the Editorial Board of BMC Cancer.


Professor Petty leads a research programme in clinical and translational cancer medicine focused upon oesophageal and gastric cancer involving both laboratory research, as well as early and late phase clinical trials.

Oesophageal cancer represents a formidable healthcare challenge, with the incidence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma rising rapidly in recent decades in western countries and the incidence of squamous cell carcinoma remaining high throughout the far east and in the developing world. The outcomes with current therapies remain suboptimal especially by comparison to other tumour types, in the UK 60% of oesophageal cancer patients die from the disease within 1 year of diagnosis, and 5 year survival is only 15%. There is an urgent unmet clinical need for improved therapies for oesophageal cancer, particularly improved systemic treatments.

Recently Professor Petty lead the COG trial as the first randomised Phase III controlled trial in oesophageal cancer patients progressing after chemotherapy and provided a clinical proof of principle for an anti-EGFR therapy responsive sub-group of oesophageal cancers. The subsequent translational study TRANSCOG, identified a diagnostic grade predictive biomarker assay for the EGFR responsive subgroup of oesophageal cancers to provide a new avenue for personalised medicine in the disease.

Professor Petty’s laboratory programme comprises a discovery track utilising innovative pre-clinical models, and biospecimens from comprehensively characterised clinical cohorts with innovative molecular technologies to identify new targets and biomarkers for oesophageal cancer precision medicine; and a validation track which is currently focussed upon the detailed characterisation of the new EGFR Copy number gain positive subgroup of oesophageal cancers identified in the COG and TRANSCOG studies, but additionally aims to provide the diagnostic tools and data to enable translational cancer research investigations in the clinic and biomarker driven clinical cancer trials of novel therapies.

The overarching aim is to contribute to the evolving new molecular classification of oesophageal cancer and ensure it is directly linked to and provides a pipeline of personalised targeted therapies for patients with oesophageal cancer in the clinic.


PhD supervision

Dr Gillian Bain. PhD, Combining molecular and imaging Biomarkers to optimise response prediction in Gastro-oesophageal adenocarcinoma, University of Aberdeen 2010

Dr Kasia Matula PhD, Discovery and validation of novel biomarkers and targets in gastro-oesophageal cancer University of Aberdeen 2011

Dr Nayef Alyamani PhD, The impact of cancer physicians and patients attitudes on personalised prescription of novel targeted anti-cancer drugs using predictive, University of Aberdeen 2012

Dr Gordon Urquhart, Characterisation of Novel cell death targets and biomarkers in gastric, oesophageal, lung and ovarian Cancers , MD University of Aberdeen 2015

Dr Asa Dahle-Smith, Molecular characterisation of clinical response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibition in Oesophageal cancer. PhD University of Aberdeen 2015

Dr Natasha Ross, Metabolic Profiling of Pancreatic Cancer and Pancreatitis, MD University of Aberdeen 2015


Group alumni

Dr Gillian Bain Clinical Research fellow 2007-2010. Consultant Gastroenterologist NHS Grampian

Dr Kasia Matula PhD Student 2006-2009. Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Leiden

Professor Nayef Alyamani PhD Student 2008-2012. Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University

Dr Gordon Urquhart Clinical Research Fellow 2009-2011. Consultant Medical Oncologist, NHS Grampian

Dr Asa Dahle-Smith Clinical Research Fellow 2012-2015. Clinical Lecturer in Medical Oncology, University of Aberdeen

Ms Natasha Ross. Clinical Research Fellow 2012-2014. STR in General Surgery, NHS Grampian

Caroline Michie, Clinical Research Fellow 2007-2010. Consultant Medical Oncologist, NHS Tayside


Lectures and conferences

Invited national and international presentations from 2014 onwards:

American Society of Clinical Oncology, Annual Congress, Chicago, May 2015

A Randomized, Open-label Study of the Efficacy and Safety of AZD4547 Monotherapy Versus Paclitaxel for the Treatment of Advanced Gastric Adenocarcinoma with FGFR2 Polysomy or Gene Amplification: Oral proffered paper

Momentum Masterclass in Gastric Cancer, London, June 2015

Invited presenter talk entitled ‘Is translational research transforming gastric cancer care?’

National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI), Annual Trials Meeting, London, December 2014

TRANSCOG study and also selected discussant for New EPOC Translational research study

NCRI Annual Cancer Congress Liverpool, November 2014

Epidermal growth factor receptor copy number gain (EGFR CNG) and response to gefitinib in esophageal cancer (EC): Results of a biomarker analysis of a phase III trial of gefitinib versus placebo (TRANS-COG). Oral Proffered Paper describing the first effective targeted therapy and first effective predictive biomarker specifically in oesophageal cancer.

NHS Research Scotland Annual Congress, Edinburgh, November 2014

The TRANSCOG study- delivering excellence in clinical research

American Society of Clinical Oncology, Annual Congress, Chicago, May 2014

Epidermal growth factor receptor copy number gain (EGFR CNG) and response to gefitinib in esophageal cancer (EC): Results of a biomarker analysis of a phase III trial of gefitinib versus placebo (TRANS-COG). Poster discussion/highlights presentation describing the first effective targeted therapy and first effective predictive biomarker specifically in oesophageal cancer (described as one of the ‘top 3 achievements’ of the NCRI UGI cancer Clinical Study Group in the annual report for 2014/15)

National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI), Annual Trials Meeting, London, January 2014

TRANSCOG study- interim results



Links to examples of recent press coverage for the the COG and TRANSCOG Trials :

Gefitinib Extends Survival in Some Esophageal CancersCancer Discov 1 January 2015; 5 (1): OF4.

Advanced Esophageal Cancer Patients Offered New Hope. November 18, 2014. Interview with Dr Russell Petty.

2014 NCRI Cancer Conference, Press Release, Wednesday 5 November 2014, Trial results reveal first targeted treatment to boost survival for oesophageal cancer.


The Scottish Parliament, Health and Sport Committee. Official Report, Tuesday 4 December 2012. Access to New Medicines.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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