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Colin Thomson Memorial Medal 2012

Some of the world's leading scientists gathered in Glasgow to share expert knowledge and ideas which could help advance the fight against cancer.

The three-day Beatson International Cancer Conference, based mainly at Glasgow University, featured talks from world-class scientists and exhibitions on new developments in cancer research. Professor Pier Paolo Di Fiore, gave the opening Colin Thomson Memorial Lecture at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research on Sunday July 1st 2012.

President of the Italian Association of Cell Biology, and elected fellow of the European Molecular Biology Organization, of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences and of Academia Europaea, Professor Di Fiore’s award-winning research has had major impact in the field of cancer research. In recognition of that, he was presented with the prestigious Colin Thomson Medal.

The late Dr Colin Thomson, a lecturer in Theoretical Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, and a former President of the International Society for Quantum Biology, developed AICR (Association for International Cancer Research) from a tiny organisation literally run from his family's kitchen table, to a global charity recognised for its influence in progressing cancer research.

In 1984, AICR, which is one of the Beatson conference's co-sponsors, funded £50,000 of cancer research. Annual grants now total around £9 million, providing money for projects in 22 different countries from the charity's base in Madras House, St Andrews.

Colin’s commitment and his insistence upon the most rigorous approach to all aspects of research funding were an inspiration to all who worked with him. Sadly Dr Thomson died from multiple myeloma in November 1997. It is in his memory that a medal bearing his image was commissioned in 2007, for presentation to a scientist regarded as having made a notable contribution to research into cancer.

The first recipient was one of the world's leaders in the field, and an early AICR grant-holder, Sir David Lane.

maureen and pierDr Thomson's widow Maureen presented the 2012 medal to Professor Di Fiore before Sunday's lecture.

Professor Di Fiore’s scientific achievements have been recognised by numerous honours and awards, including the 2005 prize from the Italian League against Cancer, the 2004 prize from the League of human rights, and the 2000 Chiara D’Onofrio Prize from the Italian Federation of Life Sciences. He is presently Senior Editor of the Journal of Cell Biology and Associate Editor of Cell. He has served on various scientific committees, including AICR’s very own scientific advisory committee from 2001-2006. He was the Director of the IFOM (FIRC Institute for Molecular Oncology) in Milan from 2001-2009. From 2009 he has been the Director of the Program of Molecular Medicine at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan.

He said: "I feel honoured and humbled. I am grateful to all the people that work or worked with me. I know very well that whatever success I had was built on their hard work. I am particularly touched to be recognized by the AICR. I had the privilege of serving on the AICR’s scientific boards for several years and I think that what they do is simply fantastic. Financing research outside national boundaries, and actually all over the word, is a unique feature among cancer charities and obviously the result of a farsighted and enlightened vision”.

By funding only the best science, we ensure that we have the highest chance of making significant progress.  Applications for funding are peer reviewed by our Scientific Advisory Committee and many are also sent to two experts in the field for external review.



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