Dr Hesham Ahmed Abdullah

Senior Vice President, Global Head Oncology, Research & Development

Hesham Abdullah portrait

Hesham A. Abdullah is Senior Vice President, Global Head Oncology, Research & Development at GSK. Hesham is a seasoned physician-scientist who uniquely combines a clinician’s understanding of the impact cancer has on patients with deep expertise in identifying transformational opportunities to improve cancer treatment and care.

As the head of GSK’s global oncology research and development (R&D) team, Hesham oversees 250+ oncology researchers around the world. Under Hesham’s leadership, GSK’s Oncology Therapeutic Area has built a portfolio of cornerstone assets, transforming promising molecules into medicines that are helping people to live well beyond cancer. Taking a precision medicine approach to identify patients most likely to respond to new modalities and harnessing the power of advanced technologies in the drug development process has been key to Hesham’s success in delivering breakthrough medicines in the treatment of cancer. 

Hesham’s experience spans the breadth of early and late stages of development, in solid tumours and hematological malignancies. In his more than two decades leading global biopharmaceutical research and development teams and organisations, Hesham has applied his scientific background, pharmaceutical leadership experience, and personal inspiration for patient-centric research to successfully deliver 12 novel precision oncology approvals across targeted small molecules, antibodies, immunotherapy and ADCs and the registration of the companion diagnostics for many of these assets. 

Under his oversight, GSK has returned to oncology with four novel medicines approved over the past four years, a pipeline of 15+ clinical stage oncology assets and a large number of research phase programs incorporating new technologies to get ahead of cancer and to address significant gaps in treatment and unmet medical needs.

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Cancer continues to impact our lives in different ways, whether the diagnosis affects you personally or a loved one. All of us working in oncology research and development are aware of the significant unmet needs that continue to exist across many cancer types. For me, the work I’ve done over my 20+ year career, as a physician-scientist, contributing to the research, development and registration of over a dozen targeted cancer therapies has deeply been personal. This has shaped how I show up each day firmly committed to advancing cancer treatments for current and future patients.

Hesham's achievements

2019 – Present

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Appointed Global Head of Oncology, Research & Development at GSK in 2023, where he oversees the end-to-end strategic development of GSK’s Oncology portfolio. He has refocused the R&D strategy toward higher probability of success therapeutic modalities and prioritization of key disease areas.

From 2019 to 2023, Head of Clinical Development in Oncology and the Global Head of Oncology Development.


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From 2021, Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) Member at Biofidelity

2010 – 2019

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Held positions of increasing seniority in Regulatory Sciences and Development for Immuno-Oncology at AstraZeneca and served as a core member of the Oncology Therapeutic Area Leadership Team. During this time he guided multiple oncology product approvals and rebuilt the Late-Stage Immuno-Oncology Development and Oncology Global Regulatory Sciences functions.

2006 – 2010

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Hesham started his biopharmaceutical career in Regulatory Sciences at Amgen, having joined from the academic setting.


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Received his MD from the University of Cairo School of Medicine, trained as an internist and conducted  Clinical Research Fellowships in Oncology & Nephrology. Hesham has completed a Master’s degree in Regulatory Sciences from the University of Southern California (USC) and is currently a candidate for a Doctoral degree in Regulatory Science at USC.

Featured publications

Authors: Jiabu Ye, Xiang Ji, Phillip A. Dennis, Hesham Abdullah, Pralay Mukhopadhyay

Date: 21 June 2020

Published: Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics

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Authors: Hesham Abdullah, Jeff Allen, J. Carl Barrett, Julia Beaver, Gideon Blumenthal, Darya Chudova, Leen Das-Young, Bruno Gnomes, Jamie Holloway, Diana Merino, Geoffrey Oxnard, Reena Philip, David Shames, Jean-Charles Soria, Mark Stewart

Date: 2018

Published: Friends of Cancer Research White Paper

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Authors: Mohamed El-Shahawy, Mazen Noureddin, Hesham Abdullah, Wendy J. Mack, David C. Calverley

Date: 26 September 2006

Published: American Journal of Kidney Diseases

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