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Celebrating our Engagement Prize winners

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by Cancer Research UK | Research Feature

19 June 2017

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2017 Cancer Research UK Engagement Prize winners
2017 Engagement Prize winners

​We rely on our research community to speak passionately about the research we fund, to share the progress that research is making and to inspire support. To have the greatest impact, the results of our work must reach patients, the public, fundraising supporters, and the next generation of scientists.

Our Engagement Prizes are awarded to those who show extraordinary commitment in actively engaging and involving the public and patients with science.

The competition this year was very strong, and we were were delighted to award our Engagement Prizes to four outstanding winners with four inspiring runners up.

Professor Fran Balkwill 2017 Inspiring Leadership in Research Engagement winnerInspiring Leadership in Research Engagement Prize

The Inspiring Leadership in Research Engagement Prize honours an individual and their team who have demonstrated a significant commitment to public engagement with science and have embedded a culture of public engagement within their institution or research group.

Winner: Professor Fran Balkwill, Barts Cancer Institute

Professor Nick Lemoine shares why Fran is such a worthy winner in our short video.

“Fran is a fantastic example of everything the Inspiring Leadership in Research Engagement Prize represents. She not only devotes her own time and energy to opening up cancer research to everyone, but enables and encourages those around her to do the same.

“As a Founder and Director of the Centre of the Cell science centre and programme of activities, Fran’s work has been instrumental in embedding public engagement in work at Barts Cancer Centre. The programme has trained and enthused over 300 researchers who are now science ambassadors, and enabled them to engage with over 135,000 people since 2009.

“Over a wide variety of activities, from leading a team of scientists and collaborators to build exhibits, to app development, Science Museum Lates, penning a series of children’s books and appearing on BBC Radio 1, Fran has demonstrated incredible passion and skill for sharing her love of science and there could be no one more deserving of this award. Congratulations Fran!” – Professor Nick Lemoine

Runner up: Dr Allan Jordan, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute

Allan and his team delivered over a quarter of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute’s lab tours last year. His leadership has seen successful events at conferences and festivals, and even cathedrals and mosques, each of them resonating with the public audience.


Dr Kaitlin Wade, Rising Star in Research Engagement PrizeRising Star in Research Engagement Prize

The Rising Star in Research Engagement Prize recognises an individual who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to stimulating enthusiasm and interest in cancer research among the general public.

Winner: Dr Kaitlin Wade, University of Bristol

Professor Richard Martin shares why Kaitlin is a such worthy winner in our short video.

Rising Star in Research Engagement Prize 2017 winner announcement


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“Kaitlin brings not only passion and enthusiasm to engaging the public with scientific research, she also brings imagination and creativity. She is a keen volunteer for engagement opportunities and will run with each opportunity to create high quality and unique activities and events. Particular favourites of Kaitlin’s projects were her Guess Who-style board game to explain population-level genetic cancer risk, and an interactive art installation at Green Man Festival through which festival visitors took on the role of epidemiologists to sort through ribbons of genetic traits over the whole weekend.

Kaitlin really is a rising star in research engagement, constantly pushing the boundaries of our engagement offering through her enthusiasm and innovative ideas. Many congratulations Kaitlin!” – Professor Richard Martin

Runner up: Dr Ryan Mathew, University of Leeds

Ryan has an enthusiasm for engagement and an ability to connect with an audience that is rarely seen. His inspiring communication style regularly has audiences wanting more, and his mixture of fascinating science, humour and willingness to engage make him a real asset to the research engagement world.


Dr Emma Shanks, Communications and Brand Ambassador PrizeCommunications and Brand Ambassador Prize

The Communications and Brand Ambassador Prize recognises an inspiring communicator of our research, reaching the public through media work.

Winner: Dr Emma Shanks, Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute

Professor Karen Vousden shares why Kaitlin is a such worthy winner in our short video.

Communications and Brand Ambassador Prize 2017 winner announcement


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“Emma brings an incredibly personal voice to her representation of Cancer Research UK. She’s worked with newspapers, radio, magazines and social media, made speeches to hundreds of people at cinema screenings, balls, open evenings and many other events, and released a short film about her experiences. Emma also runs her own website and blog talking about research and promoting various Cancer Research UK campaigns.

“As a cancer researcher and a cancer survivor, Emma talks eloquently about her experiences in both areas and is happy to be involved in a huge variety of different types of event and activity. She is not only funded by the charity but immerses herself in all aspects of our work, including fundraising £16,000 for her London Marathon sponsorship challenge in a whole host of different activities. As such, Emma is a fantastic ambassador for Cancer Research UK, its brand and all its work. Congratulations Emma!” – Professor Karen Vousden

Runner up: Dr Suzanne Kyle, Northern Institute for Cancer Research

In the last two years Suzanne has engaged with over 7,300 people, promoting Cancer Research UK and acting as an incredible ambassador. She has produced videos for donors and the media, been part of our campaign photoshoots and even gets stuck into our Pretty Muddy races, fundraising for the charity.


Patient Involvement Prize WinnerPatient Involvement in Research Prize

Our final prize, and the first time we have ever awarded it, is the Patient Involvement in Research Prize. This prize recognises an individual or team who involve people affected by cancer in their research, and do so in a high quality and meaningful way.

Winner: Dr Liam Bourke, Sheffield Hallam University

Professor Gareth Griffiths shares why Kaitlin is a such worthy winner in our short video.

Patient Involvement in Research Prize 2017 winner announcement


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“Liam’s work is a fantastic example of the importance of patient’s knowledge when designing research. His current project, into the effect of aerobic exercise therapy on men diagnosed with prostate cancer, has achieved incredible recruitment and retention rates. This is due in no small part to Liam’s commitment to including patients’ unique knowledge into the design of the trial.

“This commitment to including the patient voice has been evident throughout Liam’s career. He’s facilitated workshops, participated in a clinical trial participant thank you project, and spoken to the media about the importance of this patient-centric way of designing research.

“Liam has consistently demonstrated how much he values patient perspective, and for this he has already been rewarded with high quality research and results. I’m delighted he’s now been awarded the Patient Involvement in Research Prize.” – Professor Gareth Griffiths

Special recognition: Cancer Survival Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

The Cancer Survival Group receive this special recognition award for their sector-leading work in involving people affected by cancer in the design and delivery of cancer research. Their work has been inspirational, and researchers across the scientific community look to them as a benchmark for patient involvement.


Our Engagement Prizes are awarded every two years. Nominations for the 2019 Engagement Prizes will open in autumn 2018.