The New Year honours list includes three Cancer Research UK experts who are being recognised for their service to science.
Michael Pragnell is Cancer Research UK’s previous chairman while Professor Jack Cuzick is a Cancer Research UK-funded scientist at Queen Mary University of London and Professor Shankar Balasubramanian is based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre. Both Pragnell and Cuzick were awarded a CBE and Balasubramanian received a knighthood.
Pragnell was chairman of Cancer Research UK 2010-2016. During this time the charity’s researchers launched the world’s largest study of lung cancer patients, a clinical trial aiming to find out if aspirin can prevent some of the most common cancers coming back as well as a new research strategy.
Professor Cuzick works in cancer prevention with a particular focus on breast, prostate, cervical and bowel cancers. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences and leads a number of ground-breaking clinical trials.
One area of Professor Cuzick’s research is the search for ‘biological signposts’ that could help predict people’s risk of developing different types of cancer.
Professor Balasubramanian’s research focuses on how the building blocks of our genetic code (nucleic acids) work. These molecules, including DNA and RNA, are vital to life and Balasubramanian has made pioneering discoveries about their shape and the roles they play inside cells.
Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, congratulated the recipients on behalf of the trustees, staff, volunteers and supporters of Cancer Research UK.
“We would like extend our congratulations to Michael Pragnell,” Sir Harpal said.
“Michael stepped down as chairman of Cancer Research UK in October 2016, after holding the position for six years. During that time, he provided us with tremendous support and guidance, helping us to make great progress in our efforts to pioneer new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
“We’re all extremely pleased for Michael; this honour is highly deserved.”
Of Professor Cuzick he said: “This honour is a fantastic recognition of Jack’s distinguished career. His work on the prevention and treatment of breast cancer has been instrumental in reducing the number of women losing their lives to the disease.
“His research into screening and ways to lower the risk of developing certain types of cancers could help to reduce the number of people affected by these diseases in future. We’re delighted to have supported Jack’s research, which we’re only able to do because of the generosity of our supporters.”
Professor Karen Vousden, Cancer Research UK’s chief scientist, added her congratulations to Professor Balasubramanian: “We’re delighted that Professor Shankar Balasubramanian’s work has been recognised in the New Year honours. His pioneering work in DNA sequencing and research into nucleic acids, an essential component that holds and transmits genetic information, is playing a vital role in understanding and tackling cancer.”