At the Wales Cancer Research Centre, we are keen to develop talent in Wales and maintain a secure future for cancer research leadership. We were thrilled to hear of recent promotions within Cardiff University (including for two members of our leadership team) that will help secure this future, and would like to offer our congratulations to the following researchers who are working in Wales to improve care for cancer patients.
Dr Rob Jones is the co-lead forour early phase trials research. He heads up the early phase unit at Velindre Cancer Centre where he leads on clinical trials offering the latest treatments to cancer patients.
Rob said, “I was elated with the news that I had been promoted to Reader. For me it was recognition of the extremely hard work that has been involved in building the solid tumour Phase 1 trial portfolio over the last 5-6 years. This is not only my work but also the 15-20 team members that evolved as our activity has increased.
“I think it is especially rewarding that the University has recognised the complexities involved in patient care that separates Early Phase research from later phases of clinical research. This means treatment decision-making using drugs that have never been given to patients previously requires a high intellectual input and constant interactions with other Principal Investigators involved with the trial to ensure patient safety.
“For me this is a particularly exciting time as two trials that I have designed are shortly due to report having completed recruitment very recently. I am also looking forward to future collaborations with Cardiff University scientists to bring locally developed
drugs into the clinic for Welsh patients for the very first time.”
Dr Alan Parker works on oncolytic viruses; his research aims to train viruses to detect and destroy cancer.
Alan said of his promotion, "I am naturally delighted to have been promoted to Reader in the recent promotions round. I am especially grateful to the extremely dedicated and talented team of researchers I have the pleasure of working with, both past and present, without whom this recognition would not have been possible.
“I can honestly say that I have never felt more excited about our research and the potential of the oncolytic virotherapies we have been generating as I do at the present time. We have made significant inroads in developing bespoke virotherapies for targeted cancer applications. Looking ahead, the next few years look to be both daunting and exciting in equal measures, as we work closely with our exceptional network of collaborators and funding agencies to translate our exciting pre-clinical findings into meaningful, well executed and timely first-in-human clinical trials."
Dr Richard Stanton works closely with Dr Parker and was awarded the same promotion.
Dr Stanton said, “I’m really pleased to have been promoted to Reader, it’s a great recognition of the work that we do. It wouldn’t have been possible without all the people who I work with on a daily basis in the lab and the office, and the collaborators who I work with outside Cardiff University. I’m very excited by our work to generate novel viruses that can function as anti-cancer vaccines by inducing a strong immune response against tumours. So far we’ve been focussed on genetically manipulating these virus vaccines to make them safe, while stimulating an anti-cancer immune response. Having achieved this, the next phase is to determine the optimal way of using these vaccines to control tumours. We also intend to use our vaccines to enhance our understanding of how the immune system can be optimised to better attack cancerous cells, in order to develop even more effective vaccines in the future. Ultimately, we hope this work will lead to effective vaccine vectors that can control or eliminate multiple different types of cancer.”
Prof Kate Brain leads our Screening, Prevention and Early Diagnosis research. Her work in behavioural science is helping us understand how to reduce the incidence of cancer and how to diagnose it earlier.
Prof Brain said, "I’m delighted to be awarded a Personal Chair. As a health psychologist based in the School of Medicine, it means a great deal to me personally to have this recognition. Behavioural science and its application to population health have gained considerable ground in recent years, and I’m pleased to have been part of this and to have the privilege of working with a wonderful team of researchers. As a strong advocate of Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity, I hope my promotion success will encourage more women to put themselves forward.
“This is a really exciting time for behavioural science and its integration into cancer research and policy. Behavioural science is so important because it allows us to gain a deep understanding of the role of human behaviour in cancer screening, prevention and early diagnosis, and to use those insights to develop and test interventions to reduce the incidence of cancer or enable it to be diagnosed at a much earlier stage. It is great to see behavioural science becoming firmly embedded in the cancer research community, and alongside that, the opportunities that are increasingly available for students and early career researchers to develop their talents in this area."
Prof Matthias Eberl’s research looks at cancer immunotherapy, which aims to harness the power of the immune system to destroy cancer cells.
He said, "I'm thrilled about this promotion to Personal Chair. This is excellent news not only for myself but also for the hard-working and enthusiastic people in my team and for the support by my family who deserve the real credit for this recognition. Our research on unconventional human T cells and the possible exploitation of our findings in the clinic, especially for immunotherapy of patients with cancer, has advanced significantly over the past years. At the same time we have made excellent progress in engaging and involving members of the public in our research, which is particularly satisfying as it helps define clinical need and serves as constant reminder of why we are doing these studies."
Prof Ann Ager also works in immunology and her lab focuses on how leucocytes move around the body in order to protect against infection, fight cancer and contribute to neurodegeneratiion such as in Alzheimer's disease.
Prof Ann Ager, said this of her promotion, “I am absolutely delighted to be awarded a personal chair for research in the School of Medicine and want to say a BIG THANK YOU to all past and present members of my laboratory because your dedication and hard work have all contributed to this recognition.
“I am very excited about developing our new findings on how killer T cells move around the body into cancer immunotherapies. Over the next few years, I am really looking forward to working with extremely talented academic and industrial collaborators around the world to move our laboratory findings from bench to bedside or, even better, into patients’ homes.
"Slangevar, Iechyd da, Prost, Na zdorovie, Cheers!"