Sean Grimmond and Andrew Biankin

Inspiring people
Sean Grimmond and Andrew Biankin

Andrew Biankin, Regius Professor of Surgery and Director of the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre, and Professor of Medical Genomics Sean Grimmond’s paths first crossed in Australia seven years ago when they were working in cancer research as clinician and genome biologist, respectively. Each has now travelled half way across the world to Glasgow where they are building the infrastructure and teams necessary to tackle pancreatic cancer.

For both men, the key to defeating cancer lies in an integrated approach. ‘You need the clinical aspect, you need an understanding of genome biology and you need an understanding of informatics analysis,’ says Professor Biankin. ‘We each bring different expertise that needs to overlap and integrate to understand disease and how to treat it.’

The clinical and research communities are not known for working this way, but it’s fundamental to what the two men are trying to do. Professor Biankin continues, ‘It wasn’t that long ago when people working in hospitals would spot something, conduct a set of experiments on patients and progress from there. But recent developments have prised the worlds of research and clinical application apart and we need to get back to the concept of teams, working collaboratively across multiple disciplines.’

Professor Grimmond is confident they’re heading in the right direction. ‘Scotland has a specific set of circumstances that makes a breakthrough more probable. A small population is one and comprehensive, linked medical records another, but the academic community in Scotland is showing signs of collaborating as never before towards one common aim and that’s hugely exciting.’