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Guardian of the genome discoverer wins Cancer Research UK lifetime achievement prize

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by Cancer Research UK | News

17 July 2012

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Professor Sir David Lane is the recipient of this year’s Cancer Research UK Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Prize.

The award recognises his contribution to the pioneering research that led to the discovery of the p53 protein, often called the ‘guardian of the genome’.

The p53 protein, which is faulty in more than 50 per cent of cancers, was first discovered in 1979 and since then Professor Lane has dedicated his career to understanding how it protects against cancer. This discovery revolutionised scientists’ understanding of how cells grow and divide and opened a new window on cancer.

His recent work has focused on controlling p53 and this has identified several promising targets for developing new cancer drugs.

Professor Sir David Lane, who is now chief scientist at the A*Star in Singapore, said: “I’m delighted to receive this award, which would not have been possible without the support of my colleagues and Cancer Research UK. Decades on from our discovery of p53, we are still making incredible strides in understanding how it behaves and controls cells and we’re now turning this knowledge into new treatments for cancer.”

Professor Lane’s work has been supported for more than 30 years by Cancer Research UK and he served as the charity’s chief scientist between 2007 and 2010. Professor Lane was knighted for his services to cancer research in 2000.

The Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Prize is awarded by Cancer Research UK each year to honour the achievements of scientists and clinicians in the cancer research community. The prize recognises individuals who have produced exceptional research throughout their career, specifically contributing towards furthering the understanding of cancer.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “This is a richly deserved award for Professor Lane and we’re proud to have supported his pioneering research over many years. His work has fundamentally changed our understanding of cancer biology. Today, it’s clear that p53 doesn’t just play a key role in how cells grow and divide, it also influences how they behave, develop and die. We hope this knowledge will form the basis for  new approaches to treating cancer.”

Professor Lane will be presented with the award at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool on Sunday 4 November, where he will also give a plenary lecture.


For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8000 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.