Claire Lewis wins national award for long-standing commitment to cancer research

Professor Claire Lewis, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Oncology and Metabolism, has been recognised with the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award by Cancer Research Horizons for her inspirational work in cancer research.

Table displaying a set of Cancer Research Horizon Awards
Copyright: Jody Kingzett

The title was awarded at the Royal Society in London, the world's oldest independent scientific academy, and celebrates Claire’s long-standing commitment to cancer research innovation and entrepreneurship. This includes running a spin-out company, out-licensing multiple novel cancer therapeutics, and successfully collaborating with numerous commercial partners to develop new cancer drug candidates.

The award was presented by Cancer Research Horizons, the translational and entrepreneurial arm of Cancer Research UK. Their aim is to fast-track scientific breakthroughs into effective treatments and diagnostics for cancer patients.

Alessia Errico, Associate Director of Entrepreneurial Programmes at Cancer Research Horizons, said: “The first Cancer Research Horizons Innovation and Entrepreneurship awards dinner was a remarkable event, bringing together enthusiastic people committed to advancing their discoveries towards patients' benefit, and celebrating their entrepreneurial mindset and their work on translation. It was an important step in highlighting Cancer Research UK (CRUK)’s and Cancer Research Horizons’ commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Professor Claire Lewis received the Cancer Research Horizons women entrepreneur of the year award in recognition of her long standing record of developing novel cancer therapeutics through her research and collaboration with industry.”

Claire Lewis, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, said: "I was both surprised and delighted to receive this award. I've really enjoyed working at the interface between academia and industry over my career, including my 26 years in Sheffield. It’s often been rather a steep learning curve but I’ve been fortunate in working with some gifted scientists in my team and across the University, and received invaluable support from Dr Sue Smith in the University’s Healthcare Gateway team. So, I really see this award as recognition of a great team!"

Professor Claire Lewis holding Cancer Research Horizon Award at Dinner
Professor Claire Lewis holding Cancer Research Horizon Award at Dinner, Copyright: Jody Kingzett

Claire heads a team of clinical and non-clinical scientists in the Department of Oncology & Metabolism, and researches the role of non-malignant cells called macrophages inside tumours. Her group has shown that these white blood cells support tumour growth and reduce tumour responses to conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy.  

They are now investigating their role in limiting the efficacy of immunotherapy - an exciting new form of treatment which helps the immune system recognise and attack cancer cells. The team are currently working on the development of a new therapeutic to prevent this. 

Claire’s work is just one example of research which aligns with the University of Sheffield’s cancer research strategy. Through the new strategy, the University aims to prevent cancer-related deaths by undertaking high quality research, leading to more effective treatments, as well as methods to better prevent and detect cancer and improve quality of life.  

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