December 20, 2017

Irish Cancer Society announces new investment in cancer research leadership

The Irish Cancer Society has today announced a major investment to foster the growth of cancer research, which it hopes will significantly benefit people with cancer in Ireland.

Professor Peter O’Gorman, Consultant Haematologist at Mater University Hospital, has been awarded a two-year Clinician Researcher grant to advance high quality blood cancer research.

This Irish Cancer Society grant will allow Prof O’Gorman to dedicate two days a week to developing and growing new areas of cancer research for the benefit of patients in Ireland. His research will focus on multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.

As those at the forefront of patient care, doctors such as Prof O’Gorman are well placed to lead on research that can make improvements in cancer care and treatment.

Each year in Ireland around 300 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma and 170 people die from this disease. Prof O’Gorman’s research aims to save lives by continuing the development of a global clinical trial program of new therapies, thus allowing real-time access for patients in Ireland to the best available treatments.

As a scientific expert in multiple myeloma and a member of Cancer Trials Ireland, Prof O’Gorman will use this time to design and lead new patient trials, discover new treatments, and optimise existing treatments in a way that makes them more effective for patients. At the core of his research will be a personalised medicine approach, i.e. the most appropriate treatment plan for each patient based on his/her ‘genetic make-up’ relevant to the disease.

Through The Mater Institute of Research and Therapy and The Medici Global, Prof O’Gorman will keep patients, their families and the wider community informed of the latest developments in multiple myeloma research as well as the direct activities of his research group.

Prof O’Gorman added: “I am delighted to have been awarded this grant, which will allow me to devote more time and resources to cancer research. Just a decade ago a multiple myeloma diagnosis meant that a patient could only expect to survive for three to five years. Today, that average survival time has doubled, and the introduction of new medicines in the coming years will see patient outcomes improve even further.

“In the clinic we are leading clinical trials of new agents and treatment combinations to maximise response and to minimise toxicity. In the lab, using cutting edge proteo-genomic technology, I am focused on identifying new targets for drug development and developing predictive tests to individualise treatments and maximise its value and effectiveness.

“The work which the Irish Cancer Society has agreed to fund will now allow me to provide more patients in Ireland with access to the next generation of treatments. Hopefully they will be among the first in the world to benefit from the latest advances in multiple myeloma research.”

Prof O’Gorman is also one of five national Principal Investigators as part of Blood Cancer Network Ireland (BCNI), a collaborative cancer research network that offers early stage clinical trials to blood cancer patients around the country. BCNI is funded by the Irish Cancer Society and Science Foundation Ireland.

Prof O’Gorman was awarded his research grant from the Irish Cancer Society after a competitive and thorough application process, with proposals strenuously vetted and reviewed by an international, external panel of research professionals to ensure the very best research gets funded.

The Irish Cancer Society will continue to monitor Prof O’Gorman’s progress throughout his funding term, ensuring that his research is carried out to world-class standards. As part of the funding agreement, measures will be put in place to ensure that Prof O’Gorman’s dedicated research time will have no negative impact on patients and patient care.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Robert O’Connor, Head of Cancer Research at the Irish Cancer Society, said:

“We’re very excited to announce funding for Prof O’Gorman’s vital cancer research. This is only possible through the public’s support for our work. As someone with a long and successful career as a haematologist and cancer researcher, including his role as National Lead for blood cancer trials with Cancer Trials Ireland which he held from 2010 to 2014, we know that the public’s generous donations are being put to good use through Prof O’Gorman’s work.

“Through this funding, Prof O’Gorman joins a team of around 100 cancer researchers around the country whose work is currently funded by the Irish Cancer Society. Each are working exceptionally hard to stop cancer and save lives, and we are tremendously proud to be able to back them.”