In 2020,  many research projects were stalled, paused or stopped. Yet the importance of cancer research on prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, care and quality of life remains as high as ever. Our research communities in Scotland are well placed to support cancer survivorship but they need to flourish and need to be supported in many ways and we are looking forward to seeing new developments

Dr Katie Robb has an excellent track record of research in cancer screening and early diagnosis. In 2018 she won the Scottish Cancer Foundation Prize and Evans Forrest medal http://scottishcancerfoundation.org.uk/activities/prize/ for her work on   improving the earlier diagnosis of cancer and reducing inequalities for cancer patients. Looking forward, for her means…

In 2021 I’m looking forward to incidental conversations.  Maybe a chat in the office kitchen while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, or a wee chat with the person sat next to me at a seminar about the weather. I miss these incidental chats with people who I don’t really know (yet) or haven’t had a reason to arrange a zoom call with.  

Two of our new research projects began because of incidental conversations.  In January 2021, we have a new Scottish Cancer Foundation funded PhD student, Clara Kurtidu, starting a multidisciplinary project on improving cancer preventive behaviours in cancer patients and their families. The idea for this was sparked by Professor Susan Moug and I having a brief conversation at a Patient and Public Involvement in research event at the Kelvin Hall in June 2019. A second study, funded by Cancer Research UK, will begin in summer 2021 aimed at improving access to cancer screening for people with learning disabilities. This project is the result of the happy coincidence that Dr Marie Kotzur and I have our offices (hopefully we’ll get back to them in 2021) on the same corridor as our colleagues in the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory.  Over several incidental chats in the corridor and in the kitchen, we hatched the plan for this very important study.  So here is to more chit chat to prevent cancer in 2021, who knew?

Katie Robb, University of Glasgow.