Leicester cancer researchers recognised for exceptional contribution

Two researchers from the University of Leicester have been recognised by the Royal College of Radiologists for their ‘exceptional contribution’ to the field of cancer research.

Emeritus Professor Paul Symonds has been given the Exceptional Contribution Award by the Royal College, while former Research Fellow Dr Kerstie Johnson - now at the University of Nottingham - has been awarded The Frank Ellis medal, both for their work with the Clinical Oncology journal.

Dr Charlotte Coles is a Professor of Oncology at the University of Cambridge and is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, and nominated Professor Symonds for the award.

In her citation, Dr Coles said:

“Professor Symonds’ contribution to the journal has been immense. Not only has he reviewed more than 250 articles for the Special Issues all in his own time, but he has encouraged and inspired the next generation of clinical oncologists to publish their work.

“A recent RCR member’s survey has also demonstrated that the journal is the most valued aspect of membership.

“Professor Symonds’ contribution to the RCR is truly exceptional and he is a very worthy recipient of the Exceptional Contribution Award.”

Professor Symonds, who is also Special Editions editor for Clinical Oncology, added:

“This Exceptional Contribution Award from the Royal College of Radiologists was most unexpected, and I am deeply honoured to receive this award.

“The citation apparently centres on my work as the long-standing Special Editions editor of the college journal, but I have also been active in other College activities.

“I have also been active in research both as an NHS consultant in Glasgow and at the University of Leicester, where one of my research fellows was Dr Kerstie Johnson –
who I am pleased to say will be awarded the Frank Ellis medal in a few days’ time.

Meanwhile Dr Johnson will be presented with The Frank Ellis Medal as ‘author of the paper considered to have made the best contribution to advancing the cause of science in cancer treatment or in the use of radiation in the management of benign disease published in Clinical Oncology in a given year’.

She led a study examining how genetic variants can predict ‘optimal timing of radiotherapy to reduce side-effects in breast cancer patients’ alongside Dr Chris Talbot and Dr Tim Rattay plus other colleagues from the Leicester Cancer Research Centre.

Dr Coles added:

“This is a fascinating study as the researchers found that radiation-related toxicity appeared to be increased in those patients receiving radiotherapy in the morning within a retrospective cohort of woman with breast cancer.

“They also found an association with certain gene variants that can affect circadian rhythm, so offering a possible biological explanation for this finding. This gives the exciting potential of testing ‘chrono-radiotherapy’ in patients depending on their genetic make-up, in order to reduce radiation-related toxicity.”

Professor Anne Thomas, Director of Leicester Cancer Research Centre, said:

“At the Leicester Cancer Centre we strive to ensure that our research makes a significant improvement in the treatment of cancer patients, and this exciting study truly epitomises this goal.

“I would also like to congratulate Paul, who continues to show so much enthusiasm for his field despite being retired from clinical practice.

“We are also grateful for funding from the Leicester Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre to support this great work.”

Clinical Oncology is published by Elsevier and is available online at clinicaloncologyonline.net.