New George Institute director launches major focus on childhood cancer

26 August 2014

© David Fisher

A major new research programme on childhood cancers has been launched by the George Institute for Global Health, part of the Oxford Martin School, with the appointment of pre-eminent global medical researcher Professor Terry Dwyer as Executive Director.

The research will focus on a study involving one million mothers and babies.

"This really is a first for The George and Oxford University - both have driven critically important medical research, and starting today, we will expand that global research to children’s cancer. By pooling data on one million mothers and babies, we hope to be able to see connections that have not been evident before and find a way to prevent cancer in children – something that has not been possible to this point.

“I’m very excited to join The George and the larger Oxford Martin School community. The opportunity to draw upon top notch UK researchers as well as the work of colleagues in Australia, India and China and at Oxford means we can really advance solutions to key health dilemmas like childhood cancer." Professor Terry Dwyer

Another major study Professor Dwyer is bringing to The George Institute is a 40-year study of 40,000 individuals, from whom measurements were first taken as children. This research focuses on providing evidence on how childhood exposures might independently affect risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer in adulthood.

He noted that research into globally significant diseases like high blood pressure and cholesterol was bolstered by the new focus The George brought to bear, moving away from the traditional nationally-based research pools in favour of broader international studies.

Professor Dwyer joins The George from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - a WHO division - in France, where he has been based for the past two years. He was previously Director of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne – one of the largest medical research institutes in Australia.

Earlier in his career, Professor Dwyer led ground breaking research into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) supported by the NHMRC (Australia) and the National Institutes of Health (US). Dwyer and his team contributed important evidence confirming that sleeping position was a major cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which led to a vast reduction in SIDS deaths in Australia and around the world.

In addition to his role as Executive Director, Professor Dwyer will have appointments with the Nuffield Department of Population Health and the Oxford Martin School and will be working to enhance the relationships between The George and these partners.