Dr Robert A Watson

Dr Robert A Watson

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Robert A Watson

BA(Hons) BM BCh PGDip DPhil MRCP(UK)

Academic Clinical Lecturer

  • Clinical Lecturer | Department of Oncology and MRC WIMM, funded by the NIHR and the CRIS Cancer Foundation
  • Specialist Registrar in Medical Oncology | OUH NHS Foundation Trust
  • Fellow & Director of Graduate Entry Medicine | Worcester College

Key interests

Immuno-oncology | T cell biology | Immune repertoires | Immune checkpoint blockers | Cancer vaccines | Experimental medicine | Translational Science


I am a Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Oncology, spending half my time conducting post-doctoral research and the other half as a clinical doctor, completing higher specialty training in medical oncology.

I finished a Wellcome Trust-funded DPhil in the Fairfax Lab in August 2023 and continue to work with Prof. Ben Fairfax and other colleagues across Oxford Cancer to understand T cell responses following immune treatments for cancer. I use a variety of techniques including single cell transcriptomics and analysis of T cell repertoires to draw novel insights into the molecular mechanisms of immune checkpoint blockade and other experimental immunotherapies, including cancer vaccines. I primarily work with human tissue and aim to translate research findings into patient-focussed interventions. 

My current post is funded by CRIS, a Spanish cancer research charity, and the NIHR. Prior to this I was awarded a CRUK pre-doctoral bursary, which allowed me to generate preliminary data to apply to the Wellcome Trust for my Doctoral Fellowship.

Additionally, I am a Fellow and Director of Graduate Entry Medicine at Worcester College. I organise the College teaching for the medical students on the accelerated medicine course (i.e. those graduates who have done other degrees and now want to study medicine) and also teach the clinical medical students at Worcester.

Prior to my DPhil, I studied medicine at Oxford before undertaking clinical training in North West London and some research at Imperial College London. Additionally, I’m interested in Healthcare Policy and spent some time as a researcher at The Nuffield Trust think tank. I have a passion for travel and have enjoyed working as a volunteer doctor in low-resource settings such as Uganda and Malawi.

During the COVID-19 pandemic I went on Secondment to the Medical Research Council, working on the Due Diligence team for the UK Covid Therapeutics Advisory Panel, the UK Government's independent advisory panel. UK-CTAP was responsible for recommending drugs to England's Chief Medical Officer for inclusion into publicly-funded Covid-19 trials in the UK. This experience gave me great insights and experience into clinical trial design, drug development and some of the practicalities and processes of developing new therapeutics at scale.

My work has been published in renowned journals with first-author papers in Nature MedicineScience Immunology, Radiology and the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer and co-author papers in Cell, Nature Medicine, Nature Immunology, Nature Communications and Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. In 2023 I was awarded The McElwain Prize for research from the Association of Cancer Physicians.