Dr James O'Connor awarded prestigious CRUK Clinician Scientist Fellowship
Dr James O’Connor, Senior Lecturer in Imaging Sciences and Honorary Consultant Radiologist at The Christie, has been awarded a Cancer Research UK Clinician Scientist Fellowship for over £600,000. These are highly competitive and prestigious awards and James joins a select group of Radiologists to receive such an award from a major UK funding body.
The four year long project will develop and validate MRI biomarkers of tumour spatial heterogeneity in pre-clinical models and in human tumours. The project will take place in Imaging Sciences Research Group in the Stopford Building, the Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facility and The Christie Hospital in Manchester, but will also involve collaboration with colleagues at the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton.
This work is important because tumours have considerable spatial complexity that is biologically and clinically significant, but is largely ignored in oncology. Work in Manchester over the last ten years – led by James along with Professors Alan Jackson, Geoff Parker, Gordon Jayson and John Waterton and in collaboration with Dr Chris Rose – has shown that MRI measurements of tumour spatial heterogeneity are sensitive to drug effect and prognostic in various tumour-therapy combinations. These studies have established Manchester's reputation as an international leader in this field. However, translating these imaging methods into clinically useful techniques is challenging and requires rigorous and robust experiments to determine the accuracy, precision and performance of these biomarkers. The Fellowship award addresses these problems and if successful will substantially alter how MRI and CT are used in phase I/II trials of novel therapies, particularly when used in combination regimens.