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Scientist wins prestigious fellowship



Tuesday 10 January 2012



A scientist from The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden Hospital has received one of four prestigious Cancer Research UK Clinical Scientist Fellowships for his research into new ways to detect and treat advanced prostate cancer.



Dr Gerhardt Attard has been awarded a four-year £615,000 fellowship that will allow him to combine research with ongoing clinical practice, bridging the gap between the laboratory bench and the patient’s bedside. The funding is part of a £3 million pot awarded to identify and promote the next generation of clinical research leaders in the UK.



Dr Attard said: “Receiving funding from Cancer Research UK will allow me to pursue my ambition of improving the treatment of men with advanced prostate cancer through personalised medicine. It is a great honour to gain this award which confirms my research strategy is of the highest scientific standard.”



Dr Attard’s research will focus on identifying which patients will benefit from a new drug for advanced prostate cancer called abiraterone acetate. Abiraterone acetate controls advanced prostate cancer in around 50 to 60 per cent of patients by blocking the production of hormones driving the tumour.



Using prostate cancer cells and patient samples, Dr Attard will look for molecules and biological processes that allow some cancers to evade the drug. Doctors could then use this information to categorise patients who will not benefit from abiraterone acetate and offer them a different treatment. Ultimately, new drugs could be developed that target the molecules and pathways identified.



Clinical interview panel chair Professor Philip Johnson, from the University of Birmingham, said: “We saw oncologists, surgeons, haematologists, public health specialists and more. It was a tough decision, but we have found four great post-doc clinicians. These are people who see clinical problems that need solving, and then do research to find solutions. They have an exciting and rewarding career ahead of them.”



Dr David Scott, Cancer Research UK’s director of science funding, said: “The doctors receiving this funding are carrying out world-class research to develop new ways to diagnose and treat patients more effectively. We hope this funding will be an important boost to develop new approaches which we hope will ultimately increase survival from cancer.”





Media Contact: ICR Science Communications Manager Jane Bunce on 0207 153 5106 or after hours 077217 47900



Notes to editors:

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)

  • The ICR is Europe’s leading cancer research centre
  • The ICR has been ranked the UK’s top academic research centre, based on the results of the Higher Education Funding Council’s Research Assessment Exercise
  • The ICR works closely with partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to ensure patients immediately benefit from new research. Together the two organisations form the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe
  • The ICR has charitable status and relies on voluntary income
  • As a college of the University of London, the ICR also provides postgraduate higher education of international distinction
  • Over its 100-year history, the ICR’s achievements include identifying the potential link between smoking and lung cancer which was subsequently confirmed, discovering that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer and isolating more cancer-related genes than any other organisation in the world
  • The ICR is home to the world’s leading academic cancer drug development team. Several important anti-cancer drugs used worldwide were synthesised at the ICR and it has discovered an average of two preclinical candidates each year over the past five years.

For more information, visit


The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Marsden opened its doors in 1851 as the world’s first hospital dedicated to cancer diagnosis, treatment, research and education.

Today, together with its academic partner, The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), it is the largest and most comprehensive cancer centre in Europe treating over 44,000 patients every year.  It is a centre of excellence with an international reputation for groundbreaking research and pioneering the very latest in cancer treatments and technologies. The Royal Marsden also provides community services in the London boroughs of Sutton and Merton and in June 2010, along with the ICR, the Trust launched a new academic partnership with Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Middlesex. 

Since 2004, the hospital’s charity, The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, has helped raise over £50 million to build theatres, diagnostic centres, and drug development units. Prince William became President of The Royal Marsden in 2007, following a long royal connection with the hospital.


Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
  • The charity’s groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.  This work is funded entirely by the public.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates double in the last forty years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer.

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7121 6699 or visit

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