World Cancer Research Fund inaugurates Science Executive Committee

Prof Elio Riboli has been appointed World Cancer Research Fund’s Medical and Scientific Adviser and will chair the Committee.

2 July 2024

World Cancer Research Fund International has convened a new Science Executive Committee to steer its scientific programmes, including the flagship Global Cancer Update Programme.

Prof Elio Riboli, chair in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention at the School of Public Health, Imperial College London, will chair the Committee in his new role as World Cancer Research Fund’s International Medical and Scientific Adviser. Dr Panagiota Mitrou, Director of Research, Policy and Innovation at World Cancer Research Fund International, will co-chair the Committee.

The Science Executive Committee will advise on progress, new research directions, dissemination of outputs, policy implications, and opportunities for leverage with stakeholders and partnerships.

‘We must face the reality’

At the inaugural meeting, which took place in London last month, Prof Riboli said:

“I am delighted to be supporting this vital work at a very exciting time. Our understanding of the links between nutrition, weight, physical activity and cancer continues to increase, and there are great opportunities to influence both the direction of research and public health policy.

“At the same time, we must face the reality that in many countries, the trend is for increasing consumption of processed and red meat, sugary foods and drinks, and other unhealthy food. These dietary habits, combined with low levels of physical activity, contribute to the increase in overweight and obesity, and in the incidence of many common chronic diseases around the world. We need to understand and focus on system-level interventions that improve the health of individuals and populations – and this is a huge challenge.”

Dr Mitrou said:

“Prof Riboli is one of the world’s eminent leaders in cancer epidemiology and prevention. We’re delighted that he’s joining World Cancer Research Fund as our Medical and Scientific Adviser. His input will be vital to build on the success of our funded research through our grant programmes and our global expert reports on diet, nutrition and physical activity in relation to cancer prevention and survival. Our ultimate aim is to strengthen our science strategy, explore new directions and translate evidence into policy.”

World Cancer Research Fund International is a leading authority on the links between diet, nutrition, weight, physical activity and cancer. It is in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO) and works with partners globally to promote policies that prevent cancer and other non-communicable diseases.

Rachael Gormley, CEO of World Cancer Research Fund International, said:

Our vision is a world where no one develops a preventable cancer, and people living with and beyond cancer are enabled to make informed choices and enjoy longer, healthier lives. We can only realise this in partnership with others, taking leadership in some areas and supporting in others. With his experience and eminence in the field, Prof Riboli is a tremendous addition to our team.

The other members of the Committee are:


About Prof Riboli

Prof Riboli has made an exceptional impact on the fields of epidemiology, cancer prevention and the fight against chronic illness. Before coming to Imperial, he worked at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the specialised cancer agency of the WHO, where he initiated groundbreaking research on the role of diet, nutrition and metabolic health in cancer causation and prevention.

He designed and led the establishment of the largest international population cohort studies on nutrition and cancer – the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) – which recruited more than half a million participants, with rich phenotyping data and blood samples stored in the first dedicated large-scale population biobank.

At Imperial, he has continued to lead research on modifiable cancer risk factors, including metabolic syndrome components and inflammation.

In recognition of his achievements, Prof Riboli was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

About World Cancer Research Fund

World Cancer Research Fund examines how diet, nutrition, body weight and physical activity affect your risk of developing and surviving cancer. As part of an international network of charities, we have been funding life-saving research, influencing global public health policy, and educating the public since 1982.

While society continues searching for a cure, our prevention and survival work is helping people live longer, happier, healthier lives – free from the devastating effects of cancer.

Preventing Cancer. Saving Lives

About the World Cancer Research Fund Network

The World Cancer Research Fund network comprises: American Institute for Cancer Research in the US, Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands, World Cancer Research Fund in the UK and an Asia office in Hong Kong.

About Imperial College London

We are Imperial – a world-leading university for science, technology, engineering, medicine and business (STEMB), where scientific imagination leads to world-changing impact.

As a global top ten university in London, we use science to try to understand more of the universe and improve the lives of more people in it. Across our nine campuses and throughout our Imperial Global network, our 22,000 students, 8,000 staff, and partners work together on scientific discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. Their work navigates some of the world’s toughest challenges in global health, climate change, AI, business leadership and more.

Founded in 1907, Imperial’s future builds on a distinguished past, having pioneered penicillin, holography and fibre optics. Today, Imperial combines exceptional teaching, world-class facilities and a habit of interdisciplinary practice to unlock scientific imagination.