I joined AstraZeneca in February 2016, as Associate Director Physician in the CDU, within Early Clinical Development.

My role involves me working with discovery scientists to validate drug targets pre-phase I and conducting translational research in collaboration with academic units. I also provide line of sight and clinical insight into drug-development plans.


Being able to treat patients on trials and in the real-world setting, as well as being involved in drug discovery – sometimes even before the clinical stage – is a privilege.

Leila Khoja, PhD Associate Director Physician in AstraZeneca’s Clinical Discovery Unit (CDU), Cambridge, UK

I underwent medical oncology training at the Christie Cancer Centre in Manchester. During this time I was awarded an AstraZeneca Cancer Research UK Clinical Fellowship to begin my doctoral studies into the prevalence and biomarker utility of circulating tumour cells in melanoma and pancreatic carcinomas at different stages of disease. I was awarded my PhD in Cancer Studies by the University of Manchester in 2013.


I knew from my PhD days how integral the science was to AstraZeneca and how committed it was to investing in science-led drug development, including biomarkers, which was the subject of my PhD.

Leila Khoja, PhD Associate Director Physician in AstraZeneca’s Clinical Discovery Unit (CDU), Cambridge, UK

After my award of Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training in medical oncology in the UK I undertook a two-year medical oncology fellowship programme at the University of Toronto and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Here, I published a number of abstracts and peer-reviewed articles, and was selected to attend the AACR/ASCO clinical trials workshop in 2014.

I hold an honorary medical oncology consultant post at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where my tumour of interest is melanoma.


Improving patient care and outcomes are everything. I am proud to be part of a diverse, talented group of people all working with one aim – to improve patient outcomes.

Leila Khoja, PhD Associate Director Physician in AstraZeneca’s Clinical Discovery Unit (CDU), Cambridge, UK

Genitourinary Medical Oncologists of Canada Award

Third-place recipient

Canadian Institute of Health Research

Melanoma grant

AstraZeneca Cancer Research UK

Three-year research fellowship

Exploring immunomodulation in COPD with a view to conducting a phase II study. This is a tremendously exciting opportunity to explore a therapeutic modality that hasn’t been used to date in COPD but which could potentially greatly impact the disease.

Potential opportunities for therapeutic gene editing. I am part of the team tasked with proposing a strategy for developing therapeutic gene editing using CRISPR technology. We have already had one project approved in RIA to develop a therapeutic strategy for alpha 1 anti-trypsin deficiency. The possibility of curing patients with these kinds of therapies is incredibly exciting

Being the first to explore the biomarker role of circulating tumour cells (CTC) in melanoma using a specialist veridex melanoma kit. This work formed part of my PhD thesis and enabled me to explore and contrast different platforms for CTC detection in melanoma and other tumour types. I had several articles published in peer-reviewed journals that have contributed meaningfully to the current literature on CTCs in oncology as a biomarker.

I was fortunate to train in a leading centre in the UK and to follow this up with a post-CCST fellowship in the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, Canada. The breadth of experience from these centres – and, particularly, the breadth and depth of clinical-trial exposure and training in immunotherapy at Princess Margaret across different tumour types – was fascinating and rewarding, as this was at a time when the first approvals of anti-PD-1 agents alone and in combination, were coming through.

Featured publications



Patterns of Response to Anti-PD1 Treatment: An Exploratory Comparison of Four Radiological Response Criteria and Associations with Overall Survival in Metastatic Melanoma Patients.

Khoja L, Kibiro M, Metser U, Gedye C, Hogg D, Butler MO, Atenafu EG, Joshua AM.

British Journal of Cancer 2016 Nov 8;115(10):1186-1192.

The full blood count as a biomarker of outcome and toxicity in ipilimumab treated cutaneous metastatic melanoma.

Khoja L, Atenafu EG, Templeton AJ, Ye Q, Chappell M, Saibil SD, Hogg D, Butler MO, Joshua AM.

Cancer Medicine 2016 Oct;5(10):2792-2799.

Eosinophilic fasciitis and acute encephalopathy toxicity from pembrolizumab treatment of a patient with metastatic melanoma.

Khoja L, Maurice C, Chappell MA, MacMillan L, Al-Habeeb AS, Al-Faraidy N, Butler MO, Rogalla P, Mason W, Joshua AM, Hogg D.

Clinical Immunology Research 2016 Mar; 4(3):175-8.

Real-world efficacy, toxicity and clinical management of ipilimumab treatment in metastatic melanoma.

Khoja L, Atenafu EG, Ye Q, Gedye C, Chappell MA, Hogg D, Butler MO, Joshua, AM.

Oncology Letters 2016 Feb;11(2):1581-1585.

Increased treatment related toxicity subsequent to an anti-PD1 agent.

Khoja L, Butler MO, Chappell MA, Hogg D, Joshua AM.

Current Oncology 2015 Aug;22(4):e320-2.

Retinal vasculitis and ocular vitreous metastasis following complete response to PD-1 inhibition in a patient with metastatic cutaneous melanoma.

Manusow JS, Khoja L, Pesin N, Joshua AM, and Mandelcorn ED.

Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer 2014 Dec 16;2(1):41.

Prevalence and Heterogeneity of Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs) in Metastatic Cutaneous Melanoma

Khoja L, Shenjere P, Hodgson C, Hodgetts J, Clack G, Hughes A, Lorigan P,  Dive C.

Melanoma Research 2014 Feb; 24(1):40-6.

Biomarker Utility of Circulating Tumour Cells in Metastatic Cutaneous Melanoma.

Khoja L, Lorigan P, Zhou C, Lancashire M, Booth J, Cummings J, Califano R, Clack G, Hughes A, Dive D.

Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2013 Jun; 133 (6):1582-90.


Prostate cancer

Assessment of Prognostic Models, PSA metrics and toxicities in Metastatic Castrate Resistant Prostate Cancer using Data from Project Data Sphere (PDS).

Pitcher B, Khoja L, Hamilton RJ, Abdallah K, Pintilie M, Joshua AM.

PLOS ONE 2017 Feb 2;12(2):e0170544.

Leibowitz-Amit R, Pintilie M, Khoja L, Azad AA, Berger R, Laird AD,. Aftab DT, Chi KN, Joshua AM.

Changes in plasma biomarkers following treatment with cabozantinib in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer: a post hoc analysis of an extension cohort of a phase II trial.

Journal of Translational Medicine 2016 Jan 13; 14(1):12.

Choosing a better end point for trials of bone-protective agents.

Leibowitz-Amit R, Khoja L, Tannock IF, Joshua AM.

Annals of Oncology 2015 May; 26(5):1032-3.


Upper gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary and pancreatic carcinomas

Significance of baseline FDG-PET/CT scan as a method of staging regional lymph nodes in patients with operable distal oesophageal or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma.

Papaxoinis G, Weaver JMJ, Khoja L, Patrao A, Stamatopoulou S, Alchawaf A, Owen-Holt V, Germetaki T, Kordatou Z, Mansoor W.

Acta Oncologica 2017 May 19:1-9. doi: 10.1080/0284186X.2017.1328127.

Circulating biomarkers in hepatocellular carcinoma.

Morris KL, Tugwood JD, Khoja L, Lancashire M, Sloane R, Burt D, Shenjere P, Zhou C, Hodgson C, Ohtomo T, Katoh A, Ishiguro T, Valle JW, Dive C.

Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology 2014 Aug;74(2):323-327.

A pilot study to explore circulating tumour cells in pancreatic cancer as a novel biomarker.

Khoja L, Backen A, Sloane R, Menasce L, Ryder D, Krebs M, Board R, Clack G, Hughes A, Blackhall F, Valle JW, Dive C.

British Journal of Cancer 106:508-16, 2012.


Gynaecological carcinomas

Malignant bowel obstruction in advanced ovarian cancer.

Dean E, Khoja L, Clamp A, Jayson GC, Goonetilleke D, Conway AM, Hasan J.

Future Oncology 2017 Mar;13(6):513-521.

Does Clinical Trial Participation Improve Outcomes in Ovarian Cancer Patients?

Khoja L, Horsley L, Heesters A, Machin JD, Mitchell C, Clamp AR, Jayson GC, Hasan J.

ESMO Open DOI: 10.1136/esmoopen-2016-000057.

Improved Survival from Ovarian Cancer in Patients Treated in Major Regional Cancer Centres in the UK; Evidence from Recent Collaborative Trials.

Khoja L, Nolan K, Mekki R, Milani A, Ashcroft L, Hasan J, Edmondson R, Kitchener HC, Mould T, Hutson R, Hall G, Clamp AR, Perren T, Ledermann J, Jayson GC.

Clinical Oncology 2016 Dec;28(12):760-765.


General translational papers in oncology

Evaluation of hypertension and proteinuria as markers of efficacy in anti-angiogenic therapy for metastatic colorectal cancer.

Khoja L, Kumeran G, Zee YK, Murukesh N, Swindell R, Saunders M, Clamp A, Valle JW, Wilson G, Jayson G, Hasan J.

Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 2014 May-Jun;48(5):430-4.

Method Validation of Circulating Tumour Cell Enumeration at Low Cell Counts.

Cummings J, Morris K, Zhou C, Sloane R, Lancashire M, Morris D, Bramley S, Krebs M, Khoja L, Dive C.

BMC Cancer 2013 Sep 11;13:415.


Health outcomes in oncology

Mortality within 30 days following systemic anti-cancer therapy, a review of all cases over a 4 year period in a tertiary cancer centre.

Khoja L, McGurk A, O'Hara C, Chow S, Hasan J.

European Journal of Cancer 2015 Jan; 51(2):233-40.


Review articles/Editorials

Tumor- and class-specific patterns of immune-related adverse events of immune checkpoint inhibitors: a systematic review.

Khoja L, Dai D, Wei-Wu Chen T, Siu LL, Hansen AR.

Annals of Oncology 2017 Oct 1;28(10):2377-2385.

AR Signaling and the PI3K Pathway in Prostate Cancer.

Crumbaker M, Khoja L, Joshua AM.

Cancers 2017 9, 34; doi:10.3390/cancers9040034 .

Adoptive Cell Therapy and modulation of the tumor microenvironment: New Insights from ASCO 2016.

Khoja L, Gyawali B. Ecancermedicalscience. 2016 Sep 1;10:ed59. doi: 10.3332/ecancer.2016.ed59.


Khoja L, Butler MO, Kang SP, Ebbinghaus S, Joshua AM.

Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer 2015 Aug 18; 3:36.

Dabrafenib in the treatment of metastatic or unresectable melanoma.

Khoja L, Hogg D.

Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy 2015 Mar;15(3):265-6.doi:10.1586/14737140.2015.1014343.

An Innovative Approach to Multimodal Cancer Treatment: Combining Radiotherapy and Immunotherapy.

Austin J
Khoja L, Menjak I, Butler MO.

Radiation Oncology and Cancer 2015;1(1): 1003.

Circulating tumor cells as tumor biomarkers in melanoma: detection methods and clinical relevance.

Khoja L, Lorigan P, Dive C, Keilholz U, Fusi A.

Annals of Oncology 2015 Jan;26(1):33-9.

Second line chemotherapy in NSCLC

Khoja L, Mulyati M, Lee SM.

Lung Cancer in Practice 2006; vol3.