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Dr David Chang

Head of Therapeutic Development

Dr David Chang is a surgeon–scientist and Head of Therapeutic Development at the Glasgow Precision Oncology Laboratory (GPOL). Dr Chang is a Reader in Surgery with the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cancer Sciences. He is also co-lead on the Precision-Panc programme that delivers clinical trials for patients with pancreatic cancer through the NHS. Dr Chang is Chief Investigator of the Precision-Panc Master Protocol and its first 3 associated PRIMUS clinical trials.

Dr Chang specialises in the treatment of malignant pancreatic diseases and his research focus is on the development and implementation of novel therapeutic strategies for pancreatic cancer in particularly around DNA-damage response deficiency, by utilising molecular biomarkers of prognosis and therapeutic responsiveness.

Spending his early years in Taiwan before moving to Sydney, Australia where he completed his medical education, and specialised in hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) (liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts) and upper gastro-intestinal surgery.  

During 2007, Dr Chang also attained a Master of Surgery degree at the University of Sydney and took up a PhD in pancreatic cancer at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in 2008.

“With the PhD, I could see what I was researching could potentially be translated into practice within the five years or ten years. There were also many collaborative projects, first within New South Wales and then the whole of Australia, as well as large international collaborative projects, like the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). What is exciting is the crossing of disciplines, going from surgery to molecular biology to genomics, to bioinformatics, clinical trials, statistics and biostatistics.”

Dr Chang was recruited to University of Glasgow in 2013 as part of an initiative to implement precision medicine in West of Scotland and the UK. He is also an Honorary Consultant Pancreatic Surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary as part of the West of Scotland Pancreatic Unit that serves as tertiary pancreatic referral centre for the West of Scotland. His clinical research aim is to shorten the distance between the bench and the clinic to ensure meaningful and seamless translation between the two.

“With the Precision-Panc clinical trials programme, we are seeing the translation of what we hypothesised into real-world outcomes. There are small wins, such as changing patients’ pathways, better ways of reporting CT scans and the pathology, improvements to the running of the multidisciplinary team and how soon we see the patient in the clinic or put them on treatment.

But the big wins will be the practice-changing moments, such as driving the Glasgow Precision Oncology Laboratory’s Glasgow Cancer Test into the NHS over the next 12 to 18 months, or a clinical trial result that delivers changes in practice, though that is probably a few years away.

As a surgeon-scientist, I feel extremely privileged to work on pancreatic cancer at the bench and also at the bedside. I truly hope through our work that we are able to offer patients with pancreatic cancer more treatments and improve their outcomes.”

Dr Chang is also involved in Precision Promise, a Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (USA) initiative dedicated in delivering personalised treatment for patients with pancreatic cancer. He also contributes to the ICGC Accelerating Research in Genomic Oncology (ARGO) initiative, aiming to shape the future of the next-generation cancer genomic projects to ultimately realise the goals and promises of precision medicine.


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