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Early Cancer Institute

Rebecca Fitzgerald receives Innovation and Entrepreneurship award

Congratulations to Early Cancer Institute Director, Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, who has been awarded an Impact Recognition Award by Cancer Research Horizons.

The awards recognise the UK’s most innovative and enterprising efforts in oncology. The judges of the Impact Recognition Award were looking for evidence of determination to drive forward the translation and commercialisation of a discovery to achieve patient benefit. 

Presenting the award at a black-tie ceremony at the Royal Society on 6th December 2022, Cancer Research UK CEO Michelle Mitchell paid tribute to Rebecca for her outstanding and ongoing contribution to oncology.

Rebecca has conceived and developed the Cytosponge, a simple “pill-on-a-string” that facilitates non-invasive sampling of oesophageal cells which are tested in the lab to determine whether heartburn sufferers have Barrett’s oesophagus, a known risk-factor for oesophageal cancer. The test, which is easily carried out in the GP surgery, has been shown in clinical trial to detect ten times more cases of Barrett’s oesophagus compared to standard GP care*.

The Cytosponge is now in further clinical trial, co-funded by Cancer Research UK and NIHR, to establish whether it could be used in routine screening for the condition.

Rebecca commented: “It is an honour to be recognised by Cancer Research Horizons. I would also like to pay tribute to the many colleagues who play their part in driving forward our vision to detect all cancers earlier, at a stage when they are more likely to be curable.”

* Cytosponge-trefoil factor 3 versus usual care to identify Barrett’s oesophagus in a primary care setting: a multicentre, pragmatic, randomised controlled trial

R.C. Fitzgerald, M. di Pietro, M. O’Donovan, et al. Lancet, 396 (2020), pp. 333-344.