McClay Professor of Medical Oncology wins Vice-Chancellor’s Prize

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Professor Richard Kennedy from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences is the winner of this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Research Impact Prize.


Richard is the McClay Professor of Medical Oncology. He works part of the time in the clinic running clinical trials for cancer patients and the rest of the time leading a laboratory-based research group. His research involves developing tests that will lead to personalised cancer therapies.


About Richard

 What do you like most about your job?

The variety. No two days in the clinic or in the lab are the same. I also like the mix between looking after patients and laboratory work.

 What are you most proud of?

As regards work, probably the DNA repair assay that Almac and Queen's have developed which is entering the clinic and guides the choice of chemotherapy for patients. On a personal level, my wife and 2 young children. They keep my feet on the ground.

 Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

I am an enthusiastic, if not talented windsurfer, often seen falling in the water off Magilligan Point!

 If you had to choose a different career what would it be?

I would probably return to my first paid job, a sailing instructor. Getting paid to go sailing, how can you beat that?!


 Tell us about your research

My interest is the development of tests that will allow us to personalise cancer therapies. At present, we give most chemotherapy on a “one size fits all basis”, yet we know that many patients gain little or no benefit from the treatment. I hope that better diagnosis through using tests that analyse the DNA of tumours will allow us to select more appropriate therapies tailored for each patient.


How does your research impact on people’s lives?

The research will hopefully improve cancer patient survival through the selection of the best treatment on an individual basis. It should also reduce unnecessary side effects associated with ineffective therapies.


Who or what influenced your choice of career?

I have been very fortunate to work with several world-class cancer researchers. I first worked with Professor Patrick Johnston in 1996 when he just came back to Northern Ireland from working in the National Cancer Institute in the US. His passion for clinical and basic scientific research was very inspiring. My PhD was under the supervision of Professor Paul Harkin who had also just returned home from Harvard Medical School. He taught me how to design and interpret scientific experiments and write scientifically which must have been a challenge as I trained in medicine up until then. Also my programme director in Harvard Medical School, Professor Alan D’Andrea, has had a great influence on my career.

Period02 Dec 2013

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  • TitleMcClay Professor of Medical Oncology wins Vice-Chancellor’s Prize
    PersonsRichard Kennedy