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Future Leaders Academy

A major obstacle to progress is the limited number of scientists working in pancreatic cancer research. Pancreatic Cancer UK wants to change this. To make sustainable improvements to the lives of people with pancreatic cancer we need to train our Professors of the future, now. We call them our Future Leaders.

Professor Owen Sansom

By supporting researchers at different stages of their careers, we support new and creative ideas to come to fruition, and ensure that the best researchers  are ready to make the difference that we need in years to come, as well as right now.

In September 2017 we announced the launch of the Pancreatic Cancer UK Future Leaders Academy, a new training programme for Future Leaders at the world-leading Beatson Institute in Glasgow, and led by pioneer researchers, Professor Owen Sansom (Academy Director, top right) and Professor Andrew Biankin (Academy Deputy Director, bottom right).

Andrew Biankin 2

Through the Academy, we will provide support and mentoring for a group  new students who we hope will become world-leading scientists, and who can bring the breakthroughs of the future to fruition. The students will receive outstanding training in state-of-the-art labs using the very best and latest technologies, allowing them to develop technical skills and know-how. 

 Below you can read more about our Future Leaders of 2017-18 and the aspects of pancreatic cancer that they’ll be taking on at our Academy:

Future Leader: Sigrid Fey

Photo Sigrid Fey Compressed

Project title: Stopping pancreatic cancer in its tracks

Sigrid is from Germany and obtained both her undergraduate degree and          masters in Biochemistry from the University of Wuerzburg.

Sigrid will be working with Professor Owen Sansom and together,  they will investigate ways of removing the fuel that pancreatic cancer cells needs to grow.

Future Leader: Declan Whyte

Declan Whyte 2

Project title: Exploiting vulnerabilities in pancreatic cancer

Declan has a degree from the University of Aberdeen and also has a                Masters in Cancer Biology from the University of Dundee, which is his home town.

Declan will be working under the guidance of Dr Daniel Murphy who specialises in understanding the biological mechanisms that allow cancer to evolve and grow. 

Future Leader: Laura Lapienyte

Photo Laura Lapienyte 2 1000

Project title: Unlocking the potential of immunotherapy

Laura went to school in Lithuania before graduating with a   degree in Biochemistry from the University of Glasgow as well as a Distinction in   her Masters in Biomedical Sciences, also at the University of Glasgow.

Within the Future Leaders Academy, Laura will be working with  Dr Jen Morton. Together they will be investigating ways to unlock the potential of immunotherapy as a treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Future Leader: Mark LawrencePhoto Mark Lawrence

Project title: Taking the brakes off our immune system

Mark is originally from Ayr in Scotland. He graduated with a degree in          Immunology from the University of Glasgow, where he was awarded the Fyfe    and Arthritis Research Campaign Prize. Mark will  be working under Dr Seth Coffelt within the Academy. 

They will be investigating a particular set of immune cells in the  body that seem to inadvertently help pancreatic cancer to spread to other organs in the body.

Future Leader: Rachael Smith 

Project title: Targeting protein synthesis in pancreatic cancer


Rachael is from just outside Glasgow and gained her degree from the          University of Edinburgh before returning to Glasgow to a diagnostic laboratory    role prior to joining the Future Leaders Academy.

Working with Professor Owen Sansom, Rachael will be investigating how targeting the production of specific proteins within cells may affect tumour growth, invasion and survival.

Rachael's project is supported with our funding partners, the Chief Scientist Office and Pancreatic Cancer Scotland.

With your support we can fund even more of the UK’s brightest PhD students as they begin their research careers. Donate today and help fund our Future Leaders Academy.