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Research Field Cancer, Cell & gene therapy

“Curing Cancer? That’s Cute”

In the early 2000s, Catherine Bollard took the stage at an international scientific meeting to tell delegates about her work using T cells to treat cancer – an approach that would eventually be described by an FDA Commissioner as “revolutionary.” But she wasn’t presenting to a packed auditorium. She was in a small room away from the bigger sessions and recalls, “Pretty much everyone there was a friend.”

Cell and gene therapies may be an integral part of today’s treatment triumvirate: small molecules, large molecules, and advanced medicines. But it wasn’t long ago that today’s star researchers were seen as outsiders by the mainstream. “There wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for cell therapy,” says Bollard, Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at The George Washington University and Children’s National Hospital and Past-President of the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy (ISCT). “Colleagues were either impressed that we were working on something so ‘out there’ or, more often than not, skeptical or dismissive. The idea of using the body’s immune system to kill cancer was like voodoo to many oncologists.”

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About the Author

James Strachan

Over the course of my Biomedical Sciences degree it dawned on me that my goal of becoming a scientist didn’t quite mesh with my lack of affinity for lab work. Thinking on my decision to pursue biology rather than English at age 15 – despite an aptitude for the latter – I realized that science writing was a way to combine what I loved with what I was good at.
From there I set out to gather as much freelancing experience as I could, spending 2 years developing scientific content for International Innovation, before completing an MSc in Science Communication. After gaining invaluable experience in supporting the communications efforts of CERN and IN-PART, I joined Texere – where I am focused on producing consistently engaging, cutting-edge and innovative content for our specialist audiences around the world.

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