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UCL cancer researcher receives Agilent Thought Leader Award

2 August 2022

Award recognizes transformative prostate cancer clinical research using cutting-edge liquid biopsy technologies.

Professor Gerhardt Attart

Professor Gerhardt Attard from the UCL Cancer Institute has been selected to receive a prestigious Agilent Thought Leader Award for his work using cutting-edge liquid biopsy technology to identify biomarkers to monitor response to drugs and cancer progression in patients with advanced prostate cancer. The award, announced today by Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), consists of financial and technical support, as well as instrumentation and reagents. Prof Attard is a John Black Charitable Foundation Endowed Chair in Urological Cancer Research at University College London (UCL).

Despite cases of significant initial response to treatment, metastatic prostate cancer usually develops treatment resistance. Liquid biopsies are non-invasive and therefore ideal to track both tumour response to therapy and evolution of cancer mutation. By understanding how tumours develop over time Professor Attard and his colleagues will be able to identify vulnerabilities in them that can be exploited and will design improved treatment combinations and sequences to reduce the risk of relapse.

Professor Attard said:

“The Agilent Thought Leader Award will support my group’s work on interrogating tumor epigenetic information contained in plasma DNA. As translational researchers, one of our key remits is to transition new discoveries into clinically-implemented tests. I am therefore thrilled to receive this award that is both a great honour and an important opportunity for my team and our collaborators to work with some of the industry leaders in the diagnostics field. My group primarily studies blood collected from men with advanced prostate cancer but I expect our findings to also have relevance to and support new tests for other cancer types. I am confident that this partnership will accelerate our delivery of diagnostics that give cancer physicians more precise information to tailor treatment paradigms and improve patient outcomes.”

Ronda Allen, head of R&D, Assays and Reagents, in the Diagnostics and Genomics Group at Agilent and the executive sponsor of the award, said: “Agilent continues to invest in research on the important segment markets we serve. The important work conducted through this award will support scientific developments in the cancer genomics space, and we believe Professor Attard will be a brilliant asset in that endeavor.”

Angharad Milenkovic, Vice-President Advancement at UCL, said:

“Philanthropic gifts like the Agilent Thought Leader Award are crucial to enabling UCL’s world-leading scientists to make impactful discoveries that could alter the clinical landscape for advanced prostate cancer patients. We’re grateful to our philanthropic partners at Agilent, who share our vision for improving cancer diagnosis and treatment, for their generous funding of Professor Attard’s research.”

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is a global leader in the life sciences, diagnostics, and applied chemical markets, delivering insight and innovation that advance quality of life. The Agilent Thought Leader Award program promotes fundamental scientific advances by contributing financial support, products, and expertise to the research of influential thought leaders in the life sciences, diagnostics, and chemical analysis space. 

Professor Attard is an influential oncology clinician-scientist whose work has enabled the application of modern genomics clinical solutions, such as liquid biopsy, to create the next generation of diagnostics and prognostic tools in the fight against cancer. He holds an advanced Cancer Research UK Clinician Scientist award and is Team Leader of the Treatment Resistance Group at the UCL Cancer Institute.

Further information

  • Professor Gerhardt Attard
  • UCL Cancer Institute
  • To find out more about supporting Professor Attard’s work and prostate cancer research at UCL, please contact Sarah Medd-Phillips, Deputy Head of Major Gifts (Health) at s.medd-phillips at ucl.ac.uk