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The Irish Cancer Society has awarded Professor Peter O’Gorman, Consultant Haematologist at Mater University Hospital, a two-year Clinician Researcher grant to advance high quality blood cancer research.

Professor O’Gorman will dedicate two days a week towards the development and growth of new areas in cancer research, specifically on multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.

A scientific expert in multiple myeloma and a member of Cancer Trials Ireland, Professor O’Gorman intends to use this time to design and lead new patient trials, discover new treatments, and optimise existing treatments so that they are more effective for patients.

The key focus of this research will be forming a personalised medicine approach, so that patients are treated with a treatment plan that is most suited to them personally.

The society announced their hope that the investment will foster the growth of cancer research and significantly benefit people with cancer in Ireland, as an estimated 300 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma and 170 people die from this disease, annually in Ireland.

Prof O’Gorman expressed his delight at being awarded this grant: “Just a decade ago a multiple myeloma diagnosis meant that a patient could only expect to survive for three to five years.

“Today, that average survival time has doubled, and the introduction of new medicines in the coming years will see patient outcomes improve even further.

He continued: “In the clinic we are leading clinical trials of new agents and treatment combinations to maximise response and to minimise toxicity. In the lab, using cutting edge proteo-genomic technology, I am focused on identifying new targets for drug development and developing predictive tests to individualise treatments and maximise its value and effectiveness.

“The work which the Irish Cancer Society has agreed to fund will now allow me to provide more patients in Ireland with access to the next generation of treatments. Hopefully they will be among the first in the world to benefit from the latest advances in multiple myeloma research”.

Prof O’Gorman is also one of five national Principal Investigators as part of Blood Cancer Network Ireland (BCNI), a collaborative cancer research network that offers early stage clinical trials to blood cancer patients around the country, funded by the Irish Cancer Society and Science Foundation Ireland.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Robert O’Connor, Head of Cancer Research at the Irish Cancer Society, said: “As someone with a long and successful career as a haematologist and cancer researcher, including his role as National Lead for blood cancer trials with Cancer Trials Ireland which he held from 2010 to 2014, we know that the public’s generous donations are being put to good use through Prof O’Gorman’s work.

“Through this funding, Prof O’Gorman joins a team of around 100 cancer researchers around the country whose work is currently funded by the Irish Cancer Society. Each are working exceptionally hard to stop cancer and save lives, and we are tremendously proud to be able to back them”, he added.

As part of the funding agreement, measures will be put in place to ensure that Prof O’Gorman’s dedicated research time will have no negative impact on patients and patient care.