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Cambridge children's doctor scoops prestigious prize

last modified Dec 17, 2013 09:47 AM

09 April 2012

Cambridge children's doctor scoops prestigious prize for cancer research to improve patient outcomes.

A children's doctor from Cambridge has been selected for a prestigious award after four years of dedicated research into a rare cancer type affecting children.

Dr Matthew Murray
Dr Matthew Murray

Dr Matthew Murray has been chosen as the SPARKS Young Investigator of the Year 2012, thanks to his studies into malignant germ cell tumours. The Paediatric Oncologist, who has been studying for an MRC-funded PhD in the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, is hopeful that the research could lead to improved outcomes for other childhood tumours and germ cell tumours in older age groups, including testicular cancer in young men.

Dr Matthew Murray said: "The research has been important as it is the first time that common genetic changes that are shared by all malignant germ cell tumours have been identified, which may lead to new targeted therapies. We have also found identical genetic changes in the bloodstream of affected patients. We are now studying levels of this type of genetic code in the bloodstream in a wide range of common childhood cancers."

"This could mean that in the future, a simple blood test may be able to diagnose and monitor such cancers. If so, fewer children may need to have surgery to diagnose cancer and the need for repeated body scans to check patients remain 'all clear' could be a thing of the past."

Sport Aiding Medical Research for Kids (SPARKS) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health fund the annual award for excellence in research and present the award once a year to an outstanding young medical research worker in British paediatrics. 

This year, the award will be presented to Dr Murray at the RCPCH Annual Conference in Glasgow on Tuesday 22 May.

On winning the award, Dr Murray said: "I was delighted. To have this work on children's cancer viewed in such high regard by others is very gratifying and will help to ensure the future success of our exciting and novel research programme. I am particularly pleased that this award provides an opportunity to recognise the hard work of the whole team involved, including Dr James Nicholson (Paediatric Oncology, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge) and Professor Nicholas Coleman (Department of Pathology), who have provided invaluable advice and support to me over the last four years."