University of Leicester specialist is recognised for a lifetime’s devotion to cancer research

A University of Leicester cancer specialist who has devoted his life to researching an aggressive fatal lung disease has been recognised for his work by the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Professor Dean Fennell, who is Chair of Thoracic Medical Oncology, was a junior doctor in London in the early 2000s when he and a colleague hit upon a novel way to fight malignant mesothelioma.

Their study proposed a method of starving mesothelioma cancer tumours, by cutting off their food supply.

The research led to a breakthrough clinical trial being set up this year, which has seen patients in Leicester given a new combination chemotherapy treatment, inspired by the study.

Results from the trial have shown the treatment significantly increases the survival of people with MPM, a rare but rapidly fatal type of cancer with few effective treatment options.

Professor Fennell’s work caught the attention of the Academy of Medical Sciences, which has today [Tuesday 21 May] elected him to its prestigious Fellowship.

New Fellows are recognised for their remarkable contributions to advancing biomedical and health sciences, groundbreaking research discoveries and translating developments into benefits for patients and wider society.

“I’m honoured to be elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences for my research in mesothelioma,” said Professor Fennell.

“I would like to thank all of my collaborators, present and past, national and international, with whom it’s been a privilege to conduct research. I’m especially grateful to patients and their carers for their generosity in supporting our research into this rare cancer, with whom we have shared a common goal of trying to improve clinical outcomes.”

Professor Fennell joins an esteemed Fellowship of over 1,400 researchers who are at the heart of the Academy’s work, which includes nurturing the next generation of researchers and shaping research and health policy in the UK and worldwide.

Professor Andrew Morris PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “It is an honour to welcome these brilliant minds to our Fellowship. Our new Fellows lead pioneering work in biomedical research and are driving remarkable improvements in healthcare. We look forward to working with them, and learning from them, in our quest to foster an open and progressive research environment that improves the health of people everywhere through excellence in medical science.”

Professor Fennell will be formally admitted to the Academy at a ceremony on Wednesday 18 September 2024.

The Academy of Medical Sciences is the independent, expert body representing the diversity of medical science in the UK. Its mission is to advance biomedical and health research and its translation into benefits for society. The Academy's elected Fellows are the most influential scientists in the UK and worldwide, drawn from the NHS, academia, industry and the public service.