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ICR honours campaigning parents and convergence scientist with honorary degrees

Recipients of honorary degrees at 2019 Annual Awards

Image: Recipients of honorary degrees at the 2019 Annual Awards (Credit: Jan Chlebik for the ICR 2019).

The ICR has awarded the founders of the children’s cancer charity Christopher’s Smile and a world-leading expert in convergence science with honorary degrees at this year’s awards ceremony.

Kevin and Karen Capel were honoured for their tireless work and dedication in setting up the charity Christopher's Smile in 2008, just a few months after the loss of their young son to medulloblastoma. Kevin and Karen’s incredible efforts, in Christopher’s memory, have been improving the outlook for children with cancer ever since.

Kevin and Karen have raised more than £1 million for childhood cancer research at the ICR, providing funding for four dedicated research scientists. Their support has led to the development of a new genetic test for children with cancer – helping clinicians to choose the best possible treatment regimens for each child.

Kevin and Karen have also been relentless in campaigning for children to have better access to cancer drugs. Their influence has been felt widely amongst the pharmaceutical industry, and bodies such as the European Medicines Agency and in the European Commission.

“Truly inspirational”

Professor Louis Chesler, Professor of Paediatric Solid Tumour Therapeutics at the ICR and Consultant in Paediatric Oncology at The Royal Marsden, said: “I have known and worked with Kevin and Karen since the inception of their charity Christopher’s Smile more than 10 years ago.

“Their determination to turn the tragic loss of their son Christopher just before his 6th birthday to medulloblastoma, into something positive for future parents faced with similar news, is truly inspirational.”

Kevin and Karen said: “We feel humbled and grateful to the ICR for the recognition of our efforts through Christopher's Smile over the past ten and a half years.”

The ICR Awards Ceremony takes place during the ICR's Teaching Week, where we celebrate our excellence in learning and teaching.

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'Real-world impact'

Professor Sangeeta Bhatia also gained an honorary degree for her pioneering research which lies at the intersection of engineering, medicine and biology with the goal of developing novel platforms for understanding, diagnosing and treating human disease.

Professor Bhatia is the John J. and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Celebrated internationally as a young researcher whose exciting work ideas are leading to real-world impact and solutions, the ICR is recognising Professor Bhatia for her innovation and drive in bringing a multidisciplinary bioengineering approach to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

During her visit to the ICR, Professor Bhatia met with members of the ICR’s Athena SWAN steering group to share her experiences as a successful woman in science, and to discuss the challenges that women in science still face and the types of initiatives that can support and make a difference.  


Christopher's Smile Teaching Week graduation Sangeeta Bhatia
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