Ruth March, PhD, is Senior Vice-President of AstraZeneca’s Precision Medicine and Genomics function, including over 110 diagnostic and genomics experts across the globe.

As a member of the senior leadership team in AstraZeneca’s Innovative Medicines & Early Development Biotech Unit, I am accountable for delivering diagnostics across AstraZeneca’s R&D pipeline to match targeted medicines to those patients most likely to benefit. I also lead AstraZeneca/ MedImmune’s Genomics Initiative, which aims to transform drug discovery and development by analysing up to 2 million genomes.

I have led the development of AstraZeneca’s industry-leading capability in precision medicine, with 16 diagnostics launched linked to 4 AstraZeneca medicines since 2014. Precision medicine is now applied in >90% of AstraZeneca’s clinical pipeline across all main therapy areas - oncology, CVMD, and respiratory disease.

I have also led an innovative approach to diagnostics, developing technologies that best fit the patient’s care pathway. In addition, I have led over $185M investment with diagnostic partners, including molecular diagnostics, tissue diagnostics, next generation sequencing and point of care diagnostics.

With my team, I have pioneered many industry firsts:

  • 1st drug label extension based on circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA), making targeted therapy available to up to 40% of patients with lung cancer who cannot provide a solid tumour tissue sample
  • 1st laboratory based companion diagnostic (which detects thousands of mutations in BRCA genes classified through a diagnostic algorithm)
  • 1st companion diagnostic based on both ctDNA and tissue in the resistance setting
  • 1st point of care diagnostic approved in inflammation
  • 1st prototype point of care diagnostic for eosinophilic asthma

I am a genomics specialist with over 50 patents and publications and I drew on my extensive academic research to lead the first genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism analysis of a safety biomarker to be submitted to the FDA.


  Personalised healthcare: transforming the way we use medicine

Ruth

LATEST PROJECT

Targeting medicines with precision

WORLD LEADING GENOMICS STRATEGY

AstraZeneca/ MedImmune’s Genomics Initiative aims to analyse 2 million genomes by 2026, including sequencing 500,000 samples from patients in our clinical trials and integrating genomics with clinical data. Achieving these ambitious goals involves working with a global network of two industrial and seven academic partners including Columbia University Institute of Genomics Medicine, U.S. and the University of Cambridge, U.K.

FIRST CIRCULATING TUMOUR DNA APPROVAL

First regulatory label in the world to include use of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) for mutation testing (2014), enabling testing for approximately 25% of eligible lung cancer patients in whom a tumour sample is not evaluable

  Featured publications

Drug target genes associated with clinical phenotypes in the genetically isolated population of Finland more likely to succeed in pharmaceutical development

Drug target genes associated with clinical phenotypes in the genetically isolated population of Finland more likely to succeed in pharmaceutical development. R March, M Cunha, C Elks, A Platt, M Alanen-Kinnunen, S Lemmelä,  V Salomaa, P Jousilahti, M Daly, D Goldstein and A Palotie. ASHG 2017 Meeting abstract.

Lessons learned from the fate of AstraZeneca's drug pipeline

Lessons learned from the fate of AstraZeneca's drug pipeline: a five-dimensional framework. D Cook, D Brown, R Alexander, R E March, P Morgan, G Satterthwaite & M N Pangalos. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 13, 419-431 (June 2014) | doi:10.1038/nrd4309

Genome-wide pharmacogenetic investigation of a hepatic adverse event

Genome-wide pharmacogenetic investigation of a hepatic adverse event without clinical signs of immunopathology suggests an underlying immune pathogenesis. A Kindmark, A Jawaid, C G Harbron, B J Barratt, O F Bengtsson, T B Andersson, S Carlsson, K E Cederbrant, N J Gibson, M Armstrong, M E Lagerström-Fermér, A Dellsén, E M Brown, M Thornton, C Dukes, S C Jenkins, M A Firth, G O Harrod, T H Pinel, S M E Billing-Clason, L R Cardon and R E March. The Pharmacogenomics Journal (2008) 8, 186–195; doi:10.1038/sj.tpj.6500458

I believe personalised healthcare is the future of medicine; it allows us to use the latest diagnostic science to target medicines to patients most likely to benefit.

Ruth March