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Top Award for Institute Physicist


Wednesday 28 November 2007


A physicist from The Institute of Cancer Research has won the award for Innovation in Research at the Department of Health's Chief Scientific Officer Awards, held on 27 November in London.


Dr Gail ter Haar, Head of Therapeutic Ultrasound at The Institute of Cancer Research, has been recognised for her achievements in the development of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), for use in the treatment of cancer. HIFU can produce cell death in a small tissue region, deep inside the body, using an external sound beam. This method minimises the damage to healthy tissue, making it an excellent treatment option for the frail and elderly.


HIFU was developed as a treatment for prostate cancer and has been approved for use by the national health guidance body, NICE. Dr ter Haar's team is collaborating with clinicians at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in running a clinical trial for HIFU's use in recurrent prostate cancer. She was also the first person to recognise the potential of HIFU in the treatment of liver cancer.


Professor Peter Rigby, the Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, said: "Dr ter Haar has dedicated her professional career to HIFU. Not only has she become one of the most talented and influential scientist in her field, she has also made key contributions to ultrasound safety as Chairman of the Safety Committee of the European Federation of Societies for Ultrasound in Medicine. We are delighted that her achievements have been recognised."


Dr ter Haar and her team built the prototype HIFU clinical device at The Institute of Cancer Research, which has subsequently been used in clinical trials for the treatment of abdominal tumours. She has recently secured funding to develop a second device.


She said: "I feel honoured to have received this prestigious Innovation in Research award, and am delighted at the recognition given to the field of HIFU, which I believe to have a very promising future in a wide range of clinical applications. I am very conscious of the fact that I have been lucky in having many outstanding collaborators, both within The Institute and outside, without whom my work in HIFU would not have been possible. This award is not so much recognition for me, as for my Therapy Ultrasound Team. I am also delighted to acknowledge the support The Institute has given me and my work, an outstanding commitment sustained over nearly 30 years."


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For further information please contact:


Dominique Vincent

The Institute of Cancer Research

0207 153 5312

[email protected]


Notes to editors:


  • The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe’s leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting edge research. It was founded in 1909 to carry out research into the causes of cancer and to develop new strategies for its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Website at:
  • The Institute works in a unique partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, forming the largest Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Europe. This relationship enables close daily contact between research scientists and those on the frontline in the fight against cancer - the clinicians, the carers and most importantly, the patients.


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