National University of Ireland Galway

Irish Cancer Society awards Post-Doctoral Fellowship to bowel screening researcher

The Irish Cancer Society is delighted to announce that Dr Alice le Bonniec is the recipient of the 2020 Social, Nursing, and Allied Health Sciences Post-Doctoral Fellowship.

The Irish Cancer Society is delighted to announce that Dr Alice le Bonniec is the recipient of the 2020 Social, Nursing, and Allied Health Sciences Post-Doctoral Fellowship. After a thorough competitive review process, Alice’s fellowship was selected for funding at NUI Galway under the mentorship of Dr Jenny McSharry. Alice will spend two years on her project, titled “Increasing bowel screening uptake: development of an innovative intervention for a better prognosis.”

Dr Alice le Bonniec is a post-doctoral researcher whose expertise centres on cancer screening. Having completed a BSc and Master’s degree in psychology, Alice completed her PhD at the University Paul Valery, Montpellier on the psychosocial determinants of colorectal cancer screening. Alice currently works as a researcher with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in France.

Currently, colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly occurring types of cancer worldwide. If it is diagnosed early, patients are more likely to be cured and screening is a very effective way of achieving this. However, screening rates in Ireland (and globally in Europe) are low. Alice hopes that her project will improve screening awareness and participation in Ireland. 

To achieve this, Alice’s project will involve a robust examination of the scientific literature around interventions that increase colorectal screening uptake. She will use this information, along with consultation workshops with members of the public, healthcare professionals and the National Screening Service, to develop and test a new intervention. 

On her reasons for applying to the Irish Cancer Society fellowship programme, Alice explains: “During my PhD, I travelled to NUI Galway as part of an Irish Research Council Ulysses Award. I chose Galway after meeting with Dr Jenny Mc Sharry; she helped me to create the project thanks to her expertise in health behaviour change. I applied to the Irish Cancer Society fellowship as my project matched the values promoted by the Irish Cancer Society, particularly the importance placed on Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in research projects.” 

A fellowship is an opportunity for early-stage researchers to further develop their knowledge base, skills, and careers. Alice hopes to develop new skills in using novel behavioural science tools and techniques during her experience of working with the Health Behaviour Change Research Group. 

Ultimately, the long term aim of investing in fellowships is to develop future research leaders. In pursuit of this goal, Alice describes her future career plans: “After the fellowship I plan to apply for additional funding to conduct a randomised controlled trial, and to explore barriers and facilitators to the new intervention’s widespread implementation. My longer term goals are to hold an academic position and lead a research team working to improve outcomes in cancer.”

Alice says, ”I’m looking forward to working with the members of the PPI Panel, which will be created at the beginning of the project, in order to develop an innovative intervention, to seek better information and provide better access to screening."

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"I feel very honoured that my project was selected for funding and I believe the support of the Irish Cancer Society will have a very positive impact on my research and career.”

The Irish Cancer Society would like to wish Alice the best of luck in her work.

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