Professor McVie is widely regarded as a leading international authority in the research and treatment of cancer. Having qualified in the 1960s in science and medicine at Edinburgh University, he was appointed Foundation Senior Lecturer at the Cancer Research Campaign oncology unit at the University of Glasgow in 1975. He trained in the U.S., and spent sabbaticals in Paris, Sydney and Amsterdam.
He is currently Senior Consultant to the European Institute of Oncology, Milan, and is founding editor of ecancer.org, the first free Open Access cancer journal accepted by PubMed. He is visiting professor at the Universities of Milan, Glasgow and Wales.
Previously, Professor McVie was Chief Executive of the Cancer Research Campaign (CRC), which, under his aegis, took over 60 molecules from the lab into clinical trial. He led CRC into a merger with Imperial Cancer Research Fund, which formed Cancer Research UK in 2002, and was joint CEO with Sir Paul Nurse.
In the UK he was one of the architects of the Cancer Trials Networks in Scotland, Wales and England, and was a founding member of the National Cancer Research Institute. Professor McVie is the recipient of numerous awards and has honorary doctorates in science from six universities. He has served on key committees of AACR and ASCO, and on the boards of the National Cancer Institutes of France, Italy and Holland. He has authored 340 peer-reviewed articles, and contributed to over 35 books.
His commitment to drug discovery and delivery is evidenced by approximately 240 patents, including temozolomide, granted to CRC scientists under his leadership, and the foundation of 10 biotechnology companies based on some of that intellectual property. His clinical interests, apart from new drug discovery and chemoprevention, are in the management of cancers of the lung, ovary, colon, breast and brain. He chairs a biotech company in Adelaide, which is taking a saponin derived from a Chinese grass into the clinic, and is a partner with ecancer in 3 FP7 projects on personalized medicine and patient empowerment from the European Commission.