Head of WHO Classification of Tumours (WCT)

Head of WHO Classification of Tumours (WCT)

Grade: P4
Contractual Arrangement: Fixed-term appointment
Contract Duration (Years, Months, Days): 1 year renewable subject to availability of funds satisfactory performance and
continuing need for the post
Job Posting: Sep 21, 2022
Closing Date: Oct 13, 2022
Primary Location: France-Lyon
Organization: Evidence Synthesis and Classification
Schedule: Full-time

Online job description

The  International Agency  for  Research on Cancer (IARC), is the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO) and is based in Lyon, France.
The incumbent is Head of the WHO Classification of Tumours series with overall responsibility for revision of the WHO Classification of Tumours for all organ sites, which underpins the diagnosis of all cancers, worldwide.  The Classification is published as a subscription website and a series of printed volumes, known as the WHO Blue Books. An ancillary series of international reporting systems for cytopathology is produced in collaboration with the International Academy for Cytology (IAC).

This is a senior international position in pathology and cancer diagnosis, with a major leadership role.  It involves strategic planning; ensuring new disease entities are included; achieving consensus among experts who may have differing views on controversial issues; ensuring the series incorporates leading-edge science; coordination with some 3,000 editors and authors to maintain the highest scientific quality and consistency of the WHO Classification and book styles; coordination of submitted content and liaison with authors and editors; organizing editorial meetings; and managing the team of staff and resources dedicated to the series.

In addition, the International Collaboration for Cancer Classification and Research (IC3R), is hosted by IARC and lead by the incumbent.  This brings together cancer research institutes interested in cancer classification and diagnosis to work on improving standards for relevant research and its evaluation for inclusion in the classification of tumours.

As the senior pathologist in the Agency, the incumbent is expected to participate in the wider goals of IARC through opportunities to conduct research and engage in training activities. It is anticipated that there will be opportunities to contribute to the success of other IARC flagship activities in the Branch, namely the IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans and the Handbooks of Cancer Prevention. The post holder leads the provision of pathology services within the Agency, and is responsible for the research histopathology laboratory, which provides these services to other research groups.

The overall goal is to provide uniform nomenclature and diagnostic criteria for all human tumours through an established  biological classification based on shared clinical/imaging, epidemiological, pathological and molecular characteristics of human tumours that is recognized, accepted and used worldwide. This program therefore has a substantial impact in not only pathology communities, but also cancer registration, epidemiology, clinical trials, and cancer research in general. It underpins diagnosis for individual patients worldwide. The WHO Classification of Tumours is therefore a core activity of the Agency.

The goal is achieved by convening leading experts from around the world within an editorial board to reach a consensus on revision of the classification of human tumours, based on the assessment of evidence. The dissemination of the classification through its subscription website and production of the traditional printed books is required in order to reach the largest audience worldwide, and supports the project on a not-for-profit basis. The editorial board consists of standing members, who are nominated by selected societies involved in cancer diagnosis worldwide and appointed by IARC, and expert members selected and appointed by IARC on the basis of advice from the standing members and bibliometric searches using an expert selection tool (BBEST).  The classification itself is held in a SQL database at IARC and underpins the production of the ICD-O and ICD11 coding systems.  It is used directly by other international organizations, including the International Collaboration for Cancer Reporting (ICCR), the College of American Pathologists, The Royal College of Pathologists (UK), the UICC, and the American Joint Committee on Cancer.  It has strong links to the HUGO organizations responsible for genetic nomenclature, to the CGC, and the Association for Molecular Pathology.

Pathology also underpins much of the research conducted across the Agency. The Head of the WHO Classification of Tumours therefore has an opportunity to develop laboratory-based research, with the objectives of providing scientific data that will be essential for better understanding of the molecular basis and the future molecular classification of tumours, and to shape the wider research activities at the Agency, through collaboration with other research groups. There are also opportunities to participate in training activities and to advise on the further developments of the IARC Biobank.

The incumbent is Head of the WHO Classification of Tumours Group programme within a Branch which also includes the IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans and Handbooks of Cancer Prevention. The Programme Head is responsible for managing the staff assigned to the Blue Books and the associated budget. The incumbent has responsibility for ensuring that the editors, and authors of each volume are selected based on scientific quality, and balanced geographic representation, and for coordinating their work in order to reach international consensus on controversial issues, in order to establish WHO Classification of Tumours Standing.

The post-holder is able to engage in research and training activities in line with the overall strategy of the Branch and Agency. Provision of expert advice in relation to the IARC Monographs and Handbooks is also expected as is the receipt of support from in-house epidemiologists and toxicologists in preparation of relevant parts of the Blue Books. As Group Head, the incumbent reports to the Head of Branch and subsequently to the Director of the Agency, who has overall responsibility for the Agency’s programmes.
Available guidelines include: The IARC Medium-Term Strategy as approved by the Governing Council every five years and the IARC Programme as reviewed on a biennial basis. Additional guidelines are contained in the IARC Staff Rules and Regulations, the WHO Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service as well as IARC Internal Control Framework and Enterprise Risk Management Policy. Selection of experts as authors and participants in the consensus meeting will be made following completion and evaluation of the standard WHO Declaration of Interests form.

Contacts inside the Organization:
The post-holder works as part of a senior team within the Branch and Pillar 4 (Knowledge Mobilisation). Collaborations with IARC’s other scientific groups are encouraged and laboratory-based research projects can be established using the facilities available at the Agency. Close integration with the Branch of Cancer Surveillance (CSU) is needed to ensure the new classifications are represented in the International Classification of Disease Codes for Oncology (ICD-O), which is maintained by a committee chaired by the incumbent. Coordination of planning and review of volume production and revenue generation is needed with the Budget and Finance Office in order to successfully manage the finances of the Blue Books programme. Good working relationships with the WHO Headquarters are required.

Contacts outside the Organization:
The incumbent is responsible for high-level interactions with many international organizations, including those listed above.This position will play a key role in supporting IARC in managing The World Health Organisation Classification of Tumours (WCT)


1. Provide leadership to the WHO Classification of Tumours through strategic planning, coordination, and practical implementation, ensuring that the series remains the international reference standard for pathology, oncology, epidemiology, cancer registration and research;
2. Manage the human and financial resources assigned to the WHO Classification of Tumours programme, ensuring that processes are efficient and meet the highest standards of scientific publishing;
3. Promote the dissemination of the WHO Classification of Tumours in multiple formats;
4. Attract research funding from competitive sources, including participation in resource mobilization efforts to support the classification of tumours and their diagnosis, in cooperation with the Branch for Support to Research (SSR);
5. Initiate and/or participate in molecular pathology research based on funding obtained from competitive sources;
6. To provide leadership to the International Collaboration for Cancer Classification and Research (IC3R),
7. Undertake duty travel and represent the Agency as required;
8. Perform other related duties as assigned by the Head of Branch and Director.

Due to the evolving situation resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, and depending on work requirements, this position may be partly occupied remotely, from the home of the candidate selected in the region Lyon, according to the teleworking clause for force majeure currently in force as part of the IARC teleworking policy during this pandemic period.


  • Producing results
  • Creating an empowering and motivating environment
  • Respecting and promoting individual and cultural differences
  • Communication
  • Moving forward in a changing environment.

Building and promoting partnerships across the Organization and beyond

Essential: PhD in cancer genetics, molecular pathology of cancer, or related area with national board certificate in pathology, and specialization in cancer pathology.

Essential: At least seven years’ experience in human pathology. Track-record in conducting high quality research. Previously documented strong team management and project management skills and experience. Previous senior supervisory and managerial responsibility in an academic or health service environment, including providing leadership to clinical, scientific and support staff.
Desirable: Experience in editing internationally recognized publications. Experience in web-based publishing. Experience in working in an international environment.  Experience of senior national and/or international leadership role(s) in pathology, cancer diagnosis, governmental or health service roles.

Expert knowledge of English. Intermediate knowledge of French and/or one of the other official UN languages is an asset.


  • Sound knowledge of molecular pathology of cancer
  • Sustained record of publication of research in scientific journals
  • Strong record in obtaining competitive research funding
  • Ability to manage a team and related resources

Knowledge of Microsoft office 365 office package

WHO salaries for staff in the Professional category are calculated in US dollars. The remuneration for the above position comprises an annual base salary starting at USD 90,664 (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance, as applicable), a variable post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station, and currently amounts to USD 2,750 per month for the duty station indicated above. Other benefits include 30 days of annual leave, allowances for dependent family members, home leave, and an education grant for dependent children.

●    Only candidates under serious consideration will be contacted.
●    A written test and/or seminar presentation may be used as a form of screening.
●    In the event that your candidature is retained for an interview, you will be required to provide, in advance, a scanned copy of the degree(s)/diploma(s)/certificate(s) required for this position. IARC/WHO only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED), a list updated by the International Association of
Universities (IAU)/United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list can be accessed through the link: Some professional certificates may not appear in the WHED and will require individual review.
●    Any appointment/extension of appointment is subject to IARC/WHO Staff Regulations, Staff Rules and Manual.
●    WHO staff members in other duty stations are encouraged to apply.
●     For information on IARC’S operations please visit:
●    IARC/WHO is committed to workforce diversity.
●     IARC/WHO's workforce adheres to the WHO Values Charter and is committed to put the WHO Values into practice.
●     IARC/WHO has a smoke-free environment and does not recruit smokers or users of any form of tobacco.
●     Applications from women and from nationals of non and underrepresented Participating States are particularly encourage.

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