Cancer Research UK Lifetime Achievement Award winner: Polygenic susceptibility: What might it tell us?


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Bruce Ponder1
1Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, Cambridge, UK

Abstract

Although trained in medical oncology and Head of an Oncology Department, my focus has always been the hope that better understanding of cancer development, and of genetic susceptibility, might open the way to interventions at an earlier stage. After a PhD on the molecular structure of chromatin, I developed in the late 1970s parallel research programmes in the clonal organisation of epithelia and in genetic predisposition to cancer, each as a way to understanding mechanisms. I will describe some of the results and the lessons learned along the way. I will review the current challenges as I see them, and speculate on how my own and other current work on common genetic variation might (possibly) contribute to my original goal of earlier intervention. For the past 17 years, much of my attention has been on helping to build the new cancer centre and institute in Cambridge. If time permits, I will reflect also on some of the lessons that I have learned from this.