How long have you been involved in cancer research?
My interest started when my nephew was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, from which he subsequently died at the age of 12, and moved into top gear when my wife was diagnosed with Melanoma at the end of 1999.
What inspired you to get involved in cancer research?
At the turn of the century, there was no real treatment for stage 4 melanoma, and the few trials of Interferon and Interleukin were not showing much success. My wife went on a clinical trial, and it did mean she survived somewhat longer than she would have done without any drugs.
What do you perceive to be the biggest challenges in cancer research?
From the patients’ point of view the speed of delivery seems agonisingly slow, and the costs of drugs seems to be soaring. As personalised medicine takes off, there are going to be more and more difficult decisions to be made.
What do you consider to be the most exciting development in cancer research at present?
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Surviving to retirement. When I realise how many times a day my body is carrying out DNA repairs, it’s a miracle any of us live this long.
About the Scientific Committee
What do you think will be your biggest challenge of being a member of the Committee?
Much as I love the pure science, I’d like to see patient and public involvement at every session. I’m still amazed how many researchers have never met a “real patient” outside their own family. Whether or not I can increase PPI impact remains to be seen.
What do you think you will enjoy the most about being on the Committee?
I welcome the opportunity to meet with some of the leading specialists in the field of cancer research, and to be a constant reminder to them of the impact of their work on patients and carers.
Will participants get the chance to talk with you and other members of the Committee during the Conference?
Oh I do hope so. I love talking to people, and this is such an exciting time to be involved in cancer research. I hope I can share my enthusiasm with as many people as possible.
Looking forward to the 2016 NCRI Cancer Conference
What are you looking forward to most about this year’s Conference?
Learning all about the latest developments, and improving my knowledge of all the ‘omics. I’d encourage everyone to go to Elaine Vickers’ sessions, even if it does mean getting up early.
What is new for the 2016 Conference?
A bigger emphasis on surgical oncology – a high proportion of cancers are fixed by surgery rather than drugs.
What do you predict to be the highlights of this year’s Conference?
I’m not good at predictions, but I’m looking forward to Lieping Chen talking about Immunotherapy.
What would you say to convince people to attend this year’s Conference?
For me it is the highlight of the year – you learn so much in such a short amount of time. It is also a fantastic networking opportunity.
How will attending the Conference benefit Consumers and patients and carers involved in cancer research?
They will learn a lot. Even in session where they don’t understand every word, they will get a feel for how much work is being done, and what remains to be done. Consumers really appreciate the work being done for them by the research community.
Why should researchers submit their work to this Conference?
It is the leading showcase in the UK for cancer research.
If you could sum up the conference in three words, what would it be and why?
Learn and enjoy. Do I have to do ‘why’ in three words as well? If so “I love it”.
Just for fun
What has life taught you?
You’re never too old to learn something new.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Folk dancing, gardening, beekeeping
Where would your dream holiday be?
Angola – I have a friend who was born there, and it looks an amazing country.
Describe yourself in three words.
Cynical, dogmatic, witty
Name three things you would take with you to a desert island.
Food, water, clothing