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East of England researchers win prestigious regional cancer awards

Researchers from across the East of England have been recognised in the Cancer Research Excellence Awards at this year’s NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Eastern Cancer Conference. The CRN Eastern Cancer Research Excellence Awards recognise individuals and teams who demonstrate outstanding contributions in delivering NIHR cancer research.

The Cancer Research Excellence Clinician Award was won by Dr Lizzy Smyth, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Cambridge University Hospitals. Lizzy has been recognised for her work in transforming the clinical trials portfolio for upper and lower gastrointestinal cancer patients in Cambridge and across the country.

The winner of the Cancer Research Excellence Non-medical and Support Staff Award was announced as Celine Driscoll, Oncology Research Nurse at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT). Celine has been recognised for her resilience and strength in leading the ESNEFT Oncology Research Team and in supporting COVID-19 research, including organising talks, teaching sessions and meetings to recruit oncology and other doctors to assist the Trust with the delivery of the RECOVERY trial.

The Research team at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust (ENH) have been announced as winners of the new Cancer Research Excellence Team Award, introduced for the first time this year. The ENH team were recognised for their enormous efforts to ensure cancer research continued in the face of the challenges presented by the pandemic, including offering significant opportunities to patients to take part.

The award was accepted by Phillip Smith, Associate Director of Research at ENH, who said:

“We know that research is a team game when it comes to the set-up and delivery of studies and ours is a team of teams, from delivery to research office to pharmacy to pathology. A very large number of people have worked really hard in times of exceptional difficulty to ensure that cancer research has been able to continue during Covid, and I am incredibly proud to accept this award on behalf of all involved in this at ENH.”

Commendations were also awarded in all categories.

Since its launch in 2014, the NIHR CRN Eastern has funded and supported the delivery of research in the NHS and social care to improve treatments and care for all. The Annual Cancer Research Cancer Conference gives attendees a chance to hear from key researchers from the region and beyond, showcasing progress being made to improve treatments and care for people with cancer.

Dr Helen Macdonald, Chief Operating Officer for NIHR CRN Eastern, said:

“We are delighted to be able to give our colleagues in the NHS this well-deserved recognition for their exceptional dedication to supporting cancer research trials. It is thanks to them, and all those who support and participate in research, that we are able to help people to be successfully treated for their conditions or are able to live better with them, and we are extremely grateful to all.”