Professor Simon Leedham, Director of the Centre for Personalised Medicine, has been awarded the Cancer Research UK Future Leaders in Cancer Research Prize at the National Cancer Research Institute Annual Conference.
Professor Leedham is a clinician scientist who has made important advances in cell biology and molecular pathogenesis of gastrointestinal cancers. His research has notably advanced our understanding of the role of BMP signalling in colorectal tumorigenesis, and he is now applying this through new therapeutic and preventive approaches.
Simon is a CRUK Clinician Scientist Fellow, Group Head at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, and Associate Professor at the University of Oxford, as well as Honorary Consultant at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital. He received his PhD from the CRUK London Research Institute in 2008, supervised by Prof Sir Nicholas Wright, and became a Consultant in Gastroenterology and General Medicine in 2010. In addition to his research, Simon was commended for his leadership as Director of the Oxford Centre for Personalised Medicine. The Centre for Personalised Medicine is a partnership between the University of Oxford's Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics (WHG) and St Anne’s College, Oxford. It was formed as a communication and engagement vehicle for students, academics, clinicians and the public to explore the benefits and challenges of personalised medicine.
In awarding the Future Leaders Prize to Simon, the selection panel from CRUK recognised his role in understanding the importance of the BMP antagonist, GREM-1, in colorectal neoplasia. This revealed a mechanism of hereditary polyposis and its importance in spontaneous colorectal cancer. Simon’s work has shown that cross-talk between conserved BMP signalling and notch, in a subtype of colorectal cancer, promotes poor prognosis. His more recent work is leading him into novel approaches to therapy.
The Panel regarded Simon to be a leader based on the quality of his research and his collaborative efforts, demonstrated by the number of prestigious conferences he has spoken at. The Panel considered Simon’s work to be widely recognised internationally, and that he is an excellent clinician-scientist, with strong leadership skills.