Cancer Research UK announces winners of 2013 research prizes

The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI)

Cancer Research UK presented its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award to the internationally acclaimed scientist Professor Sir Bruce Ponder at an awards ceremony at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool, last night (Monday).

“I’m delighted to announce all our award recipients this year, who are receiving prizes for their extraordinary and wide-ranging contributions to cancer science. Although their work spans many different areas and types of cancer, one thing they all have in common is their dedication to beating cancer.” - Dr Harpal Kumar

Professor Ponder, the first director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and professor of Oncology at the University of Cambridge, has led work to improve our understanding of the processes involved in cancer development and has identified genes involved in cancer predisposition, leading to the identification of at-risk groups for targeted cancer screening and prevention.

The award recognises his contribution to the identification and understanding of genetic susceptibility to breast cancer and other common cancers, and for his achievements in building cancer research in Cambridge into a world-renowned centre of excellence.

The Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Prize is awarded to individuals who have produced exceptional research throughout their career contributing towards furthering the understanding of cancer.  

Also honoured at the NCRI last night were Dr Nitzan Rosenfeld, at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge, and Dr Ivan Ahel, formerly at the Manchester Cancer Research Centre based at the University of Manchester.

Both were awarded the Future Leaders in Cancer Research Prize which recognises early career researchers whose significant contribution to cancer research demonstrates their potential to become world class leaders in their field.

Dr Rosenfeld‘s lab is working on developing a non-invasive blood test for cancer patients based on circulating tumour DNA which could help track how their tumours evolve and respond to treatment.

Dr Ahel’s DNA Damage Response Group, now based at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford, specialises in understanding how DNA damage can lead to diseases such as cancer. Their recent work on PARP-inhibitors has identified the potential of these molecules as a promising new class of cancer treatment drugs.

The Translational Cancer Research Prize was awarded to the research groups of Professor Paul Workman, deputy chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR) and director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit; and Professor Laurence Pearl, professor of Structural Biology in the MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre and head of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex, for their collaborative work on the cancer-supportive protein HSP90 and the discovery of drugs that inhibit its function*.

HSP90 inhibitors have great potential as a new class of cancer treatment. They have been found to attack tumours that have stopped responding to existing drugs – and could be used against a wide range of cancers including lung, breast, prostate, ovarian and colon.

Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK and chair of the NCRI, said: “I’m delighted to announce all our award recipients this year, who are receiving prizes for their extraordinary and wide-ranging contributions to cancer science. Although their work spans many different areas and types of cancer, one thing they all have in common is their dedication to beating cancer. Through their pioneering work they open up new opportunities to detect and treat cancer which, in turn, helps us save lives.”

ENDS

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Notes to Editor

* The team members involved are: Dr Wynne Aherne, Dr Udai Banerji, Dr Paul Clarke, Professor Ian Collins, Professor Johann de Bono, Professor Suzanne Eccles, Professor Keith Jones, Professor Ian Judson, Dr Edward McDonald and Dr Florence Raynaud (all from The Institute of Cancer Research, London), and Dr Chrisostomos Prodromou and Dr Mark Roe from the University of Sussex.