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Stopping the cancer "clock"

 

Dr Duncan Baird

Biomedical expertise at the University encompasses both internationally recognised experts and rising younger researchers.

Dr Duncan Baird of the School of Medicine is winner of the Entente Cordiale Cancer Prize, set up by the British and French Governments for the most exceptional young cancer researchers either side of the Channel.

Dr Baird’s work centres on telomeres — structures at the end of human chromosomes which act as a clock regulating cell division. Malignant tumours find a way to re-set the clock, allowing cells to divide uncontrollably.

A team led by Dr Baird has developed a technique called Single Telomere Length Analysis, allowing the examination of telomeres in extraordinary detail. They are now looking for changes to telomeres which could trigger the onset of cancer. The research could allow the earlier diagnosis of disease and development of new drug targets.

Already Dr Baird has to his name a prestigious Cancer Research UK Senior Fellowship, a dozen academic publications, research collaborations with US scientists, and two worldwide patents. Winning the Entente Cordiale Prize has provided funding to establish research links with France and further develop his unique technology. Head of the School of Medicine, Professor David Wynford-Thomas, has described the work as "of central importance to cancer" and Baird as "a rising star in molecular genetics".