Professor Norman Williams, MB MS FRCS FMedSci

President of the Royal College of Surgeons (England) between 2011 and 2014, and a founding trustee of Bowel & Cancer Research, Norman Williams has dedicated his professional career to finding alternatives for permanent stomas for patients who require bowel surgery. He is a forward thinking innovator who has never been afraid to push back the boundaries of existing knowledge on physiology to establish new orthodoxies for the treatment of rectal disease.

Among other offices, he has been Chair of the UKCCCR committee on Colorectal Cancer, President of European Digestive Surgery, Vice Chairman of The British Journal of Surgery and President of The International Surgical Group and President of the Society of Academic and Research Surgeons.


Professor Charles Knowles MBBChir, PhD, FRCS, FRCS (Gen Surg)

Charles Knowles is Clinical Professor of Surgical Research. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Chairman of the Whitechapel Society for Gastroenterological Research, Research lead of the Neurogastroenterology Section of the British Society of Gastroenterology, Deputy Clinical Director of the NHS Bowel Healthcare Technology Cooperative and Chair of the GI neuromuscular pathology international working group. He is the author of over 80 peer reviewed publications and 5 books.


Professor Andrew Silver, BSc (Hons), Ph.D.

Andrew Silver is Professor of Cancer Genetics. He has built a reputation in the field of colorectal cancer genetics, and leads the Colorectal Cancer Genetics Group at Queen Mary where he came after heading up the Bobby Moore Laboratory for Cancer Research UK at St Mark’s Hospital. He has produced 40 papers for peer reviewed publications over the last 5 years. The Colorectal Cancer Genetics Group focuses its translational research activity on individualising treatment and surveillance protocols for patients with colorectal cancer, including currently predicting chemoradiosensitivity in rectal cancer, identifying which advanced stage tumours respond to chemotherapy and identifying the main risk factors to developing cancer in colitis patients.

Principal Investigator

Professor Gareth J Sanger, B.Sc (Honours), Ph.D., D.Sc., FBPharmacolS

Gareth Sanger is Professor of Neuropharmacology. An acknowledged world leader, he has experience in all phases of drug discovery. At GlaxoSmithKline he led or played leading roles in many different teams, placing 7 novel compounds into development, including granisetron (a drug used to prevent nausea and vomiting). He was responsible for the discovery that a novel receptor mediated the ability of 5-HT to increase gastrointestinal motility, later named by others as the 5-HT4 receptor. He identified the role of the 5-HT3 receptor in the mechanisms of emesis, which led to the development of new drugs and a major change in the treatment of cancer.

Prinicpal Investigator

Professor Laurence Ashley Blackshaw B.Sc. Hons, PhD

Ashley is Professor of Enteric Neuroscience.  He set up a new laboratory in Adelaide in 1991 and has grown this into a world leading facility over the last 20 years. Ashley previously held a Principal Research Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, and won a Wellcome Trust University Award to enable him to return to the UK. The main areas he will be  working on are new treatments for visceral (liver, kidneys, spleen and bowel) pain, and nutrient sensing in the gut in obesity. These studies will rely on human tissue that is removed during bowel surgery but is normally discarded, with a major  advantage over tissue from animals such as rats and mice in that we  know it is relevant for human disease.