Medical student recognised for ovarian cancer research

31st August, 2011

The 2011 Elma Reid Bursary has been awarded to third-year University of Dundee medical student Abdulla Ibrahim, who will receive a certificate marking his achievements during a symposium in Dundee this week.

The bursary was made possible by Elma Reid from Inverarity, who raised over £20,000 to increase awareness of inherited cancers through education or research before she died in September 2009. Elma was passionate that we should learn as much as possible about this, and other cancers, so that everyone can benefit.

Part of that funding has been used to create the bursary, which allows one medical student from the University with an interest in research to spend the summer studying the causes of familial cancer each year.

Abdulla (23), originally from Cardiff, is investigating new ways of identifying which genes have been involved in causing a cancer, and whether these have implications for other family members.

He will present the findings of his summer research work at a symposium held at the Department of Clinical Genetics, Clinical Research Centre, on August 17th. Afterwards, he will meet with Eliane Reid, Elma’s daughter and one of the trustees of the fund, who will present the award and congratulate Abdulla on his achievement.

Abdulla said, \'I am delighted to have been afforded this unique opportunity to contribute towards the advancement of medicine at an institution internationally renowned for its excellence in medical research. I have been exposed to an interdisciplinary environment where healthcare professionals and scientists work together with the common goal of tackling problems in human health.

\'The study we conducted focused on novel methods in identifying women with genetic changes that would increase their risk in developing ovarian cancer. Evidence suggests that certain types of ovarian cancers are more likely to respond to new therapies, offering new found hope for the treatment of such women.\'

Elma\'s fund-raising efforts began after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006 and she met with representatives of the Biomedical Research Institute, Ninewells Cancer Campaign and the clinical genetics and oncology departments at Ninewells. The group are keen to advance understanding of inherited cancers - of particular importance to Elma, as both her mother and grandmother had also died of cancer.

Eliane said, \'I am so grateful that we are able to provide support for another year of funding which will advance our awareness and understanding of inherited cancers and especially ovarian.

\'Woman are diagnosed with this cancer every day and any small part we can play to helping people living with cancer, or on prevention of cancer, is vital. My Mum could not have achieved so much fund raising on her own, and I know that she would want me to continue to thank and remember those who were equally determined to help her raise awareness and fundraise in her lifetime and since.

\'Ovarian cancer is a disease which is not easily diagnosed and therefore often detected at an advanced stage, where treatment options are limited. It was therefore particularly important to mum, a teacher by profession, to advance our understanding of the many complex factors which influence both the development and treatment of this disease.

\'We are really grateful for all the clinical and research work, which has given us the time and opportunity to use these resources wisely.\'

Abdulla was chosen from amongst his peers to conduct a study on the proteins that cause ovarian cancer. As part of his research he looked at how to identify those women most likely to experience the genetic changes that result in them developing cancer though their family history, and how changing treatment might improve the outcome for them.

He was selected, not only as a high-achieving student, but because he had also displayed a keen interest in undertaking academic research and developing medicines. Abdulla will be one of four students presenting at the symposium. All are medical students who won bursaries to carry out research work with leading cancer specialists at Ninewells over the summer.

The symposium will also feature presentations of work in the area of breast cancer risk by Christopher Merrick (a former winner of the Elma Reid Bursary), Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity disorder by Kirsty Hogg, and the use of stem cells to investigate brain development by Christopher Respinger.

These presentations will highlight some of the opportunities available to Dundee students to allow them to develop the academic and research skills essential for the future progress of medicine.

For media enquiries contact:
Grant Hill
Press Officer
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
TEL: 01382 384768
MOBILE: 07854 953277

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