My Week: Caroline Springer pursues innovations in medicine

The lead of the gene and oncogene team at the Institute of Cancer Research recounts her week

Caroline Springer
Caroline Springer

Monday: A 'milestone' deadline for major grant funding is looming.We have been working on new treatments for pancreatic cancer with funding from Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust. The latter charity requires that we meet a milestone each year, so we gather all our evidence. Fortunately, the project has been going well and we are confident that we will be successful.

Tuesday: We have been working on a new paper about skin cancer, which shows that we have identified five compounds capable of making a good drug. We finally finish the draft at 10pm, which means that I don't get a chance to help my 10-year-old son revise for his exams the next day.

Wednesday: I drop my son off at school at 8am and then drive off to Godalming, Surrey, for a creativity and brainstorming awayday. We are asked to pinpoint any impediments that could be curbing our innovation. All the 'low-hanging fruit' drugs have been developed, so we need to find new targets and better drugs to treat the more resistant cancers.

Thursday: I head off to the Royal Society of Medicine for a joint meeting with the British Association of Cancer Research to hear about new developments in cancer medicines. Everyone agrees that, in order to assess whether our new drugs work, we need to develop biomarkers - the detection and comparison of biological changes that occur before and after drug therapy. In the evening, I meet with my team for our Christmas meal. We read out Secret Santa poems and laugh at our gifts.

Friday: A day of back-to-back team meetings starts at 9.30am at a meeting with a third-year PhD student. Next I catch up with a group of medicinal chemists and biologists to discuss a range of skin cancer treatments that will enter clinical trials next year. Later, my team of about 15 scientists discusses our pancreatic and metastases project. Then it's over to the lab to check on colleagues assessing cancer cells under a microscope.

The Institute of Cancer Research helps to develop cancer treatments.

Professor Caroline Springer leads the gene and oncogene team at the Institute of Cancer Research

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