Professor Peter Schmid

Professor Peter Schmid

Centre: Centre for Experimental Cancer Medicine
  • Royal College of Physicians
Centre Lead, Centre for Experimental Cancer Medicine
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My research interests primarily focus on breast cancer, lung cancer and early drug development.

Research Details

Cancer Immune Therapy

Cancer Immunotherapy is one of the most promising and rapidly developing new cancer treatment approaches. Barts Cancer Institute and St Bart's Hospital have been at the forefront of this development.

Professor Peter Schmid and Professor Tom Powles lead the cancer immunotherapy group at Barts, overseeing clinical and translational research on immune checkpoint inhibitors and other immune strategies.

The group currently runs more than 10 early clinical trials of single agent or combination cancer immunotherapy treatments, focusing on breast, genito-urinary and thoracic cancers.

Predictive Epigenetics

Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression that come from DNA modifications rather than sequence changes; a new research area highly significant for cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and patient outcome.

We are now researching epigenetic 'signatures' of different cancers in order to treat patients with the right medicine for their specific disease. We focus on the role of epigenetics in therapeutic resistance. The aim is to match medicines to patients and reduce the number of patients needlessly subjected to uncomfortable side effects. During this genetic and epigenetic mapping, we also aim to find new cancer-specific targets for drug development.

Novel DNA Damage and Stability Biomarkers and Therapeutic Targets

Most cancer cells are defective in one or more DNA damage and repair (DDR) pathways and targeting DDR pathways is a highly promising area for cancer drug discovery. Building on the unique expertise in the Genome Damage and Stability Centre in Sussex we have begun a hypothesis-driven collaborative translational and drug discovery programme.

Over the next 5 years, a variety of novel DDR and chromatin maintenance mechanisms will be validated and, in collaboration with the newly appointed Chairs in Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry, potential inhibitors for synthetic lethality strategies will be identified.

Trials Targeting Therapeutic Resistance

Despite significant progress in cancer treatment, resistance is still a therapeutic challenge. Professor Schmid has developed and leads several academic clinical trials of novel targeted treatment strategies to overcome therapeutic resistance in breast and lung cancers using novel biomarkers and innovative, biomarker-driven clinical trial strategies.
Four of the trials focus on targeting the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway in different treatment indications in ER-positive and triple-negative breast cancer:

  • OPPORTUNE is a window-of-opportunity trial to assess whether the addition of the PI3K inhibitor Pictilisib increases the anti-tumour effects of short-term, preoperative treatment with the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole in ER-positive primary breast cancer. This design provides access to tumour tissue before and after treatment for comprehensive biomarker analysis thus providing critical insight into the optimal patient population and potential mechanisms of resistance.
  • MANTA is an international, 4-arm randomised trial testing efficacy of the novel TORC1/2 inhibitor AZD2014 in combination with Fulvestrant relative to Fulvestrant alone or Fulvestrant and Everolimus in metastatic ER-positive breast cancer.
  • PAKT is a double-bind, international randomised trial to evaluate the benefit of adding the AKT inhibitor AZD5363 to paclitaxel chemotherapy in triple-negative breast cancer.
  • TORCMEK is designed to define the optimal regimen and the efficacy of the combination of the TORC1/2 inhibitor AZD2014 and the MEK inhibitor Selumetinib in triple-negative breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

Two international window-of-opportunity trials that Professor Schmid leads focus on establishing the role of targeting the androgen receptor (AR) in early breast cancer, using the novel anti-androgen Enzalutamide:

  • ARB1 will evaluate short-term, preoperative treatment with Enzalutamide in AR-positive, triple-negative breast cancer.
  • ARB2 will investigate whether the addition of Enzalutamide increases the anti-tumour effects of short-term, preoperative treatment with the aromatase inhibitor exemestane in ER-positive primary breast cancer.

Professor Schmid also leads a national clinical trial that investigates whether the addition of the HSP27-targeting antisensce oligoneucleotide Apatorsen to chemotherapy can improve the outcome of patients with squamous cell lung cancers.

These trials are supported by NIHR and CR-UK funding to the Barts/Brighton Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre. UK recruitment is also supported by the NIHR Cancer Research Network and the UK Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre network.

Circulating Biomarkers

Stratified medicine relies on validated biomarkers. Continuous changes in molecular characteristics within cancers limit the suitability of archival tumour tissue and highlight the need for non-invasive approaches. Advances in molecular technologies allow reliable detection and analysis of the genetic and molecular abnormalities of cancers by analysing circulating nucleic acids in blood samples.

Our international collaborative group studies circulating biomarkers for screening, diagnosis, patient management and surveillance of breast cancers. The programme includes:

  • LERG-BC1,a prospective international biomarker study set-up in 2007 to systematically analyse circulating biomarkers in 800 patients with primary breast cancer before and immediately after primary surgery and during follow-up. Currently in analysis, first results will be presented in 2015.
  • CirculER, a second international biomarkers study looks at circulating biomarker changes over time to characterise the plasticity of hormone-dependent breast cancers and therapeutic resistance development. This trial is ongoing, supported by Breast Cancer Campaign.


  • Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology, St Bartholomew's Hospital & Barts Cancer Institute, November 2013-present
  • Foundation Professor of Cancer Medicine and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology, BSUH NHS Trust, BSMS, 2010-2013
  • Clinical Director, Clinical Investigation and Research Unit, BSUH NHS Trust, BSMS, 2010-2013
  • Senior Clinical Lecturer and Consultant in Medical Oncology, Director Hammersmith Early Clinical Trials Unit, Imperial College London, 2005-2010
  • Research Lead, Breast Cancer & Phase 1 Programme, Charité University Hospital, Berlin, Germany, 2002-2005
  • Lead Oncologist for Breast Cancer Services at Multidisciplinary Breast Centre, Charité University Hospital, Berlin, Germany, 2001-2005
  • Director, Clinical Trials Unit, Department of Oncology & Haematology, Charité University Hospital, Berlin, Germany, 2000-2005


Research grants from various sources including:

2014-2017 Astellas ARB-ER: A randomized Phase II window of opportunity study of short-term preoperative treatment with enzalutamide plus exemestane versus exemestane alone in patients with triple negative breast cancer (CI)
2014-2017 Astellas ARB-TNBC: Phase II window of opportunity study of short-term preoperative treatment with enzalutamide in patients with triple negative breast cancer (CI)
  Cancer Research UK/NAC/Astra Zeneca TORCMEK - A Phase Ib/IIa study of AZD2014 in combination with Selumetinib in patients with advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancers (joint CI with G. Middleton)
2013-2017 Astra Zeneca MANTA - A randomized Phase II study of Fulvestrant in combination with AZD2014 or Everolimus or Fulvestrant alone in ER-positive advanced or metastatic breast cancer (CI)
2013-2016 Cancer Research UK/OncoGenex CRUKE/13/014: CEDAR – A Phase II, randomized, open-label study of the antisense oligonucleotide OGX-427 in combination with first-line chemotherapy in advanced squamous cell lung cancers (CI)

Cancer Research UK/Astra Zeneca

CRUKE/12/051: PAKT - A Phase II, randomized, placebo-controlled study of paclitaxel in combination with the AKT inhibitor AZD5363 in triple-negative advanced or metastatic breast cancer (CI)
2012-2015 Breast Cancer Campaign miRNAs in resistance to HER2-directed therapy (PI), PhD Studentship
2012-2013 Breast Cancer Campaign An exploratory study to investigate whether chemotherapy associated changes in brain structure and connectivity underpin symptoms of ‘chemo-brain’ (Co-Applicant), Pilot Grant
2012-2017 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Brighton Clinical Research Facility for Experimental Medicine (PI). 
2012-2017 Cancer Research UK and NIHR Barts and Brighton Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (Co-I, PI Brighton)
2013-2015 Medivation Preclinical Studies with the anti-androgen MDV3100 in breast cancer (PI)
2013-2015 Novartis Trans 4Ever – Translational research programme focusing on predictive epigenetics from plasma DNA within 4EVERUK study
2012-2014 OncoGenex Target validation of HSP27 in breast cancer using the second generation antisense oligonucleotide OGX-427 (PI)
2012-2013 Breast Cancer Campaign Transcriptional silencing of miRNAs as potential determinant of resistance to HER-2 directed therapy (PI), Pilot Grant
2012-2015 Breast Cancer Campaign Functional characterisation of the novel transcription factor Vav-interacting kinase 1 (Vik-1) in breast cancer (PI), PhD Studentship
2012-2014 Genentech OPPORTUNE - Randomised phase II window study of short-term preoperative treatment with the PI3K inhibitor GDC-0941 plus Anastrozole versus Anastrozole in patients with ER-positive primary breast cancer (PI)
2012-2014 Cancer Research UK Identification and characterisation of novel, small molecule inhibitors of TDP1 by fragment screening (Co-Applicant), Project Grant
2011-2014 Sussex Cancer Fund Topoisomerase targeting agents: New routes to biomarkers and targets (PI), PhD Studentship

Key Publications

Cope S, Zhang J, Saletan S, Smiechowski B, Jansen JP, Schmid P. A process for assessing the feasibility of a network meta-analysis: a case study of everolimus in combination with hormonal therapy versus chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer. BMC Med. 2014 Jun 5;12(1):93. PMID: 24898705

Eccles SA, Aboagye EO, Ali S, Anderson AS, Armes J, Berditchevski F et al. Critical research gaps and translational priorities for the successful prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2013 Oct 1;15(5):R92. PMID: 24286369

Besse B, Heist RS, Papadmitrakopoulou VA, Camidge DR, Beck JT, Schmid P et al. A phase Ib dose-escalation study of everolimus combined with cisplatin and etoposide as first-line therapy in patients with extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer. Ann Oncol. 2014 Feb;25(2):505-11. PMID: 24368401

Coombes RC, Cardoso F, Isambert N, Lesimple T, Soulié P, Peraire C et al. A Phase I dose escalation study to determine the optimal biological dose of irosustat – an oral steroid sulfatase inhibitor – in postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treatment 2013 (in press); PMID: 23797179

Further Publications

For additional publications, please click here

My research interests primarily focus on breast cancer, lung cancer and early drug development.

External Activities

Faculty, IMPACT Training Course

Faculty Member, Innovators in Breast Cancer

Scientific Advisory Board Member, Breast Cancer Campaign (ongoing)

Member of UK NCRN Breast Cancer CSG, ongoing

Clinical Expert for the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), nominated by the Royal College of Physicians

Interdisciplinary National Board, Metastatic Breast Cancer, Germany

Chair, Imperial College Charing Cross Clinical Trials Unit (until 2010)

International Cancer Research UK CTAAC Advisory Panel (until 2012)

Consensus Panel, Management of Metastatic Breast Cancer, organised by the Central European Cooperative Oncology Group

Chair, Drugs and Therapeutics Group, West London Cancer Network

Fractional Lecturer, Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma MSc in Oncology, The Institute of Cancer Research, London UK (ongoing)

Elected to Steering Committee, Breast Cancer Group, German Cooperative Group of Medical Oncology (AIO)

Faculty and Lecturer, German Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma in Palliative Medicine

Elected speaker of National Expert Commission "Off-label use in breast cancer" of the German Government Agency for Drugs and Medical Devices (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte)

Consensus Panel, Management of Metastatic Breast Cancer, organised by the Central European Cooperative Oncology Group

Founder and Chair of the German Interdisciplinary Working Group for Communication Training in Oncology (until 2008)


See other researchers working on:

Breast Clinical Trials Gene Therapy Lung and Mesothelioma
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