His bioinformatics knowledge could have a huge impact for thousands of men who may not respond to chemotherapy. But because George is at the very beginning of his career during the coronavirus crisis, there’s a risk that he’ll be forced to leave prostate cancer research.

11 Aug 2020

After finishing his successful PhD in a field called bioinformatics – the study of huge quantities of biological data – Dr George Seed is ready to begin his journey to become an independent prostate cancer researcher. But because George is at the very beginning of his career during the coronavirus crisis, there’s a risk that without support from people like you, he’ll be forced to leave prostate cancer research. Hear from his respected mentor and the man himself on why we don't want that to happen.

To stop prostate cancer limiting men’s lives, it’s crucial we support the most talented researchers with innovative ideas to pave the way for new treatments and tests. Thanks to you, we now have some of the very brightest minds in prostate cancer research who are finding new ways to tackle the disease. But it wasn’t always this way.

Twenty years ago, there were just a handful of prostate cancer specific researchers in the UK, and laboratories dedicated to the disease were non-existent. Compared to other diseases like breast cancer that already had flourishing research communities, progress against prostate cancer was very slow. 

Now, we’ve helped turn the tide. By supporting not only the research itself, but also the scientists who make these discoveries possible. A thriving community of prostate cancer researchers has grown with your support. There are now over 120 prostate cancer research groups in the UK, working to stop this disease killing men. 

Before the pandemic, we planned to fund four outstanding researchers as part of our Fellowship Scheme. This scheme allows us to champion the brightest researchers at a pivotal early point in their career. For three years we give them the resources and support they need to carry out cutting-edge research into better treatments and tests, and develop their potential as research leaders. As part of the scheme, they spend six months embedded in an international lab, learning skills from world-renowned groups to bring back to the UK.

Dr George Seed was one of these passionate young scientists. His work is focused on improving treatments by identifying which men will respond well to chemotherapy. 

Chemotherapy is a very important and effective treatment for some men with prostate cancer.” says George, “but unfortunately, some won’t respond to it because of the genetic make-up of their cancer.”

“At the moment, doctors have no way of predicting who will respond to chemotherapy, and who won’t. It means thousands of men are experiencing side effects, and wasting precious time, on

treatments that aren’t controlling their cancer. My project is about understanding who does and doesn’t respond to chemotherapy, and developing a test to help doctors give each man the best treatment for him, upfront.”

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge negative impact on our ability to raise funds. Because of the projected drop in our income, we can no longer guarantee funds for people like George in our Fellowship scheme. We’re desperate to fund George, and his mentor, Professor de Bono, understands why. De Bono is a well respected expert based at The Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden in London, he specialises in improving prostate cancer treatment.

“Dr Seed is a very precious and rare resource. I rate him very highly and believe that if he is supported at this stage, he will become a very important player in the UK prostate cancer research community.”

- Professor Johann de Bono, The Institute of Cancer Research

 

During his PhD George was learning about prostate cancer from top researchers like Johann De Bono, but also learning how to apply bioinformatics to this knowledge. Bioinformatics is a relatively new field, so the fact that George understands so much about prostate cancer along with this bioinformatics expertise is very rare.

If we can fund his Fellowship, George will spend six months in a top lab at Harvard Medical School in the USA, where he’ll build on his cutting-edge data analysis skills.

“I want to use these skills to look at large amounts of data on men who don’t respond to chemotherapy, and find out what makes them different to those who do.” says George.

“I’m ready to hit the ground running. The sooner this research gets going, the sooner I can start making an impact for thousands of men living with prostate cancer.”

- Dr George Seed

 

“The researchers there are computational biologists, software designers and mathematicians. I’ll get to learn how they approach things, and develop new skills, which I can bring back to the UK to carry out one of the most in-depth analyses of treatment resistance in prostate cancer that has ever been performed.”

“Thank you so much to the people who have already supported Prostate Cancer UK, who made research like my PhD possible. I’m certain this next project will make a huge difference to men with prostate cancer, and will help me continue to make a difference for many years to come.”

Donate today to secure Fellowships like Dr Seed’s, so he can continue his pioneering work as a prostate cancer researcher and develop better treatments for men for years to come.

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