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The Colin Thomson Medal

Some of the world’s leading cancer research scientists gathered at the Beatson Institute in Glasgow at the beginning of July to hear the opening keynote speech given by this year’s recipient of the prestigious Colin Thomson Memorial Medal, awarded by Worldwide Cancer Research.

Through his innovative work, this year’s recipient Dr David Sabatini, from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, contributes significantly to the understanding of the basic mechanisms, which underpin cancer development.

Dr Sabatini’s lab at the Whitehead Institute studies in detail the fundamental pathways, which control how our cells use energy and grow. Disruptions in these molecular networks are implicated in diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Dr Sabatini is particularly interested in the mTOR pathway, which helps regulate growth in many different species. As part of this work his lab has developed a new cell-based method of screening for proteins which could be involved in cell metabolism and growth. He will use the opening Colin Thomson Memorial Lecture to discuss the number of key mTOR-related proteins his lab have identified, and highlight some of his findings on exactly what these proteins do.

Dr Sabatini is also interested in how cancer cells use energy to grow. He is searching for new genes, which are involved in these energy pathways, and investigating how they may control tumour metabolism and growth.

The Colin Thomson Medal is named after Dr Colin Thomson, a lecturer in theoretical chemistry who established Worldwide Cancer Research (formerly known as AICR) in 1984.

Dr Sabatini commented: "Dr Colin Thomson's commitment to cancer research and his own personal struggle with multiple myeloma is inspiration to all who work in cancer research.   Worldwide Cancer Research continues to support Dr Thomson's mission and has funded scientists around the world who have made major contributions in the field. I am deeply honored to receive the 2014 Colin Thomson Medal and humbled to be selected for this recognition."

The medal has been awarded each year since 2007, at the Beatson Institute in Glasgow, to a scientist in recognition of their outstanding contribution to research into cancer. As a co-sponsor Worldwide Cancer Research supports six talks throughout the conference as well as the opening session, including the Colin Thomson Memorial Keynote Lecture.