Top international prize for St John’s academic for his work fighting childhood cancers

“I share this award with all my amazing colleagues and collaborators – including patients and their families – who work together to ensure cancer is no longer a leading cause of death among children across the world”

A St John’s scientist whose pioneering research identified the origins of aggressive childhood brain tumours has been named The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering prize-winner for 2022.

Professor Richard Gilbertson has been awarded The Society Prize, a prestigious recognition that is awarded annually to a researcher, physician, or team lead who has made a positive and lasting impact in the fight against paediatric cancer. The award is accompanied with a $25,000 cash award.

Memorial Sloan Kettering, is a cancer treatment and research institution in Manhattan, New York City. Founded in 1946, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) is a volunteer-led organisation within MSK dedicated to promoting the wellbeing of patients, supporting cancer research, and providing education on the early prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer.

Prof Richard Gilbertson
Professor Richard Gilbertson. Credit: CRUK.

Professor Gilbertson, a Fellow of St John’s College, was selected as this year’s recipient for his contributions and discoveries that have impacted children with cancer including the developmental origins of childhood brain tumours. His work led not only to an understanding of the molecular and cellular origins of these tumours, but it has also impacted clinical outcomes and led to new targeted therapeutic options.

Dr Andrew Kung, Chair of the Department of Paediatrics at MSK Kids, said: “The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Prize recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to improving outcomes for children with cancer. Professor Gilbertson has made many significant discoveries over the years that have improved the way we as clinicians treat children with brain tumors. We are delighted to honour Professor Gilbertson and I can think of no one more deserving of joining the luminaries who have been honored with this prize.”

Professor Gilbertson, Li Ka Shing Chair of Oncology; Head of Department of Oncology, University of Cambridge, is the Director of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre.

His research has helped establish a direct link between disordered development and the multiple different brain tumour types observed in children: contributing directly to their classification by the World Health Organisation (WHO); changing the way conventional treatments are used, sparing children from unnecessary side effects; and underpinning clinical trials of new therapies.

He said: “It is both exciting and humbling to be honoured with this recognition. I share this award with all my amazing colleagues and collaborators – including countless patients and their families – who together work daily to ensure cancer is no longer a leading cause of death by disease among children across the world.”

The award was presented to Professor Gilbertson at the Gerstner Sloan Kettering (GSK) virtual Convocation on May 18 2022, followed by an honorary lecture at MSK Kids Grand Rounds on May 19 2022.

Published 20/5/2022

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