He graduated from University College London, completed specialist training in Medical Oncology in London, Oxford and Birmingham. He gained experience in molecular oncology during a clinical training fellowship at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund molecular endocrinology laboratory. Professor Rea works in the CR-UK Clinical trials unit part of the Institute for Cancer and genomic sciences at the University of Birmingham.
His main research focus is in early breast cancer. He is the Chief Investigator for several large randomised phase three studies in early breast cancer. The aTTom study a trial of over 8000 patients evaluating the role of extended tamoxifen in early breast cancer which has documented the advantages and disadvantages of extended adjuvant endocrine therapy.
He is Co-Chair of The International TEAM trial of over 9000 patients comparing immediate versus sequential aromatase inhibitor therapy and clinical lead for the TRANS TEAM programme of biomarker research. He is the Chief Investigator for the ROSCO study a neoadjuvant trial airing to validate a signature for anthracycline sensitivity in early breast cancer. And Chief Investigator for the NOSTRA trial programme designed to explore the safety of omission of surgery after effective neoadjuvant treatment.
Professor Rea is current chair of the NCRI breast cancer Clinical Studies Group.