Annie McNab Bequest
Glasgow is home to one of the most highly regarded cancer research institutes - the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute - and the city currently leads the world in key aspects of cancer biology. Scientists at the Beatson are making fundamental discoveries and developing new approaches that change the way in which we view cancer, and which offer the potential to revolutionise how we treat the disease. In 2019, the Institute was named as a beneficiary in the will of Ms Annie McNab who - although originally from Paisley just outside Glasgow - moved to New York in the United States many years ago to become a nanny to the Irving family. Annie's very generous bequest will support cancer research in Glasgow and West of Scotland in a number of important ways.
One of the main challenges that we face in treating cancer is the likelihood that, at the time of diagnosis, malignant cells have already left the primary tumour and spread to other organs. Thus, even following complete removal of the primary tumour, disseminated cells can reside within 'metastatic niches' only to reappear later as metastasis.
The McNab bequest has enabled us to establish a new Centre for Cancer Innovation to address this significant challenge to effective cancer treatment. The McNab Centre for Cancer Innovation, which is led by Professor Ross Cagan, Professor Jim Norman and Dr Chiara Braconi, is a laboratory that focuses on the development and application of new technologies to identify and target the vulnerabilities of cancers once they have spread from the primary site to a metastatic one. We are developing bioengineered human tissues and other technologies—including mouse and Drosophila models—to recapitulate the microenvironments that are encountered in the liver, bone, and lungs by metastatic cancers. We will combine these approaches with state-of-the-art screening and chemical evolution to develop new leads for drugs to treat metastasis to these organs. See McNab Centre website for more details: www.mcnabcentre.org
The McNab bequest provides funding for some of our most promising junior members of staff who we have been delighted to be able to recruit Glasgow to establish their own independent research groups focused on key aspects of cancer biology and treatment:
Dr Seth Coffelt trained in the United States, the UK and the Netherlands before joining us here in Glasgow to begin his first independent research group, and thus strengthening two of our key research areas - cancer immunology and the biology of metastasis (or cancer spread). Seth's career to date has allowed him to develop an international-level expertise in cancer immunology, metastasis biology and genetically engineered mouse models of cancer. Seth has established a strong cancer immunology research programme focused on the mechanisms by which γδ (gamma delta) T cells contribute to metastasis in a number of cancer types, including breast, pancreas and colon. Led by Seth, this work will feed directly into the design of future immunotherapies that will be impactful for cancer patients. See Seth's webpages for more details: www.beatson.gla.ac.uk/seth_coffelt
Dr Fieke Froehling is a medical oncologist treating patients with pancreatic cancer, which is predicted to soon become the second highest cause of cancer death. Having trained in London and New York, Fieke has recently joined us here in Glasgow and will be focusing on alterations in the tumour microenvironment that allow cancer to progress in order to to identify novel therapeutic approaches and candidate biomarkers that can be tested in clinical trials. See Fieke's webpages for more details: www.beatson.gla.ac.uk/fieke_froeling
Dr Colin Steele is one of 'home grown' fellows. He trained as a colorectal surgeon in Glasgow and following his PhD studies at the Beatson, he has developed a strong research interest in understanding the mechanisms driving invasion and metastasis in colorectal cancer. He was recently awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. See Colin's webpages for mroe details: www.beatson.gla.ac.uk/colin_steele
Support for our PhD students and postdoctoral scientists during the early stages of their career is vital and some of the McNab bequest will be used to support early career researchers like Dr Xabier Coretes Lavaud who is a postdoc working with Colin Steele.