Future Leaders Academy

We are taking the lead in supporting and developing the research leaders of the future

A major obstacle to progress is the limited number of scientists working in pancreatic cancer research. To make sustainable improvements to the lives of people with pancreatic cancer we need to train our Professors of the future, now.

Our academies are designed to attract world-class young scientists into pancreatic cancer research, and provide them with mentorship and training to develop the essential skills and expertise needed to pursue their career as a leading scientist in pancreatic cancer. Providing support at this early stage of their careers, will ensure that the best researchers are ready to make the difference that we need in years to come, as well as right now.

These academies give PhD students access to state-of-the art facilities and leading experts. This gives scientists the best chance to drive positive changes in pancreatic cancer, and it helps the pancreatic cancer field attract and retain the research leaders of tomorrow.

Future Leaders Academy 2017: Beatson Institute for Cancer Research

The first of our Future Leaders Academies, launched in 2017, is being hosted at the world-leading Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow, led by pioneer researcher and Director of the Institute, Professor Owen Sansom.

The Academy is currently supporting five extremely promising young researchers who are undertaking projects focused on improving our understanding of the biology of pancreatic cancer – how it grows, how it spreads and how it defends itself against the treatments that we have currently.

The Future Leaders and their projects

Declan Whyte


Declan’s project is focussing on ‘Exploiting vulnerabilities in pancreatic cancer’. He is working under the guidance of Dr Daniel Murphy who specialises in understanding the biological mechanisms that allow cancer to evolve and grow.

Sigrid Fey


Sigrid’s project is titled ‘Stopping pancreatic cancer in its tracks’. She is working with Professor Owen Sansom and together, they are investigating ways of removing the fuel that pancreatic cancer cells needs to grow.

Laura Lapienyte


Laura’s project is on ‘Unlocking the potential of immunotherapy.’ She is working with Professor Jen Morton and together they are investigating ways to unlock the potential of immunotherapy as a treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Mark Lawrence


Mark’s project focusses on ‘Taking the breaks off our immune system’. He is working under Dr Seth Coffelt within the Academy. They are 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.

Rachael Smith


Rachael’s project is titled ‘Targeting protein synthesis in pancreatic cancer.’ Working with Professor Owen Sansom, she is 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.