Dr Gert Attard has been awarded the Cancer Research UK Future Leaders in Cancer Research Prize at this week’s National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Liverpool.
The Future Leaders Prize celebrates early-career researchers with the potential to become world leaders in their field, and is awarded to up to three cancer scientists at the NCRI conference each year.
Dr Attard received the prize in honour of his contributions to understanding hormone resistance in prostate cancer.
Dr Attard is Team Leader in Treatment Resistance at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.
With the help of genetic information from the blood, Dr Attard studies ways in which advanced prostate cancer can become resistant to drugs.
Potential to reach world-leading status
Just a few months ago, this work led to a new blood test which could identify those patients most likely to respond to the targeted treatments abiraterone and enzalutamide.
Recipients of the prize are expected to have produced research of international importance, showing potential to reach world-leading status.
Prize winners are selected by a panel of international judges, and candidates are nominated by their peers.
Dr Attard was nominated for the Future Leaders in Cancer Research Prize by Professor Mel Greaves, Director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the ICR, who commended him for his work on the evolution of resistance to treatment in prostate cancer.
In particular, Professor Greaves praised his contributions to the work that led to abiraterone becoming a standard treatment of men with advanced prostate cancer.
Dr Gerhardt Attard’s team uses next-generation sequencing on plasma DNA and single-cell transcriptional profiling to study treatment resistance.
“He is, without doubt, a future leader”
In response to Dr Attard winning the prize, Professor Greaves said:
“I am so pleased that Gert has won this prestigious CRUK award. It is richly deserved. Gert's translational research on prostate cancer is a model of what we seek to achieve at the ICR in terms of quality and impact. He is, without doubt, a future leader.”
Dr Attard graduated in medicine at the University of Malta, and obtained his PhD in Medicine from the University of London in 2009.
He specialised in medical oncology at The Royal Marsden, where he was appointed a consultant in the urology unit in 2013.
In 2015, he became Team Leader of the Treatment Resistance group in the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the ICR, where he analyses blood samples to study drug resistance in prostate and other cancers.
This is the third year in a row that an ICR researcher has been awarded a Future Leaders in Cancer Research Prize – with Dr Andrea Sottoriva and Dr Chris Bakal winning the prize in 2016 and 2015, respectively.
This year, researchers Professor Simon Leadham and Dr Santiago Zelenay from the University of Oxford and CRUK Manchester Institute, respectively, were also awarded the prize.
More ICR updates from NCRI 2017