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Report of the General Board on the establishment of a Professorship of Oncological Pathology

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. Haematological neoplasms (including leukaemia and lymphomas) at present rank fifth in the order of incidence of malignant diseases within the East Anglian region. Within the last ten years there have been many important advances in the understanding of tumours, but the medical and social importance of haematological oncology is significantly greater than the above statistic might suggest. Firstly, many patients are children and, secondly, the rewards of correct treatment are greater than in almost any other area of oncology. Complete cure is possible in a high proportion of cases and, in many others, prolonged remission can be obtained through accurate cytological diagnoses. In both instances there is a heavy reliance on refined classifications of the abnormal cells, and on radical treatment which requires sophisticated methods of stem cell harvest culture, and replacement, to sustain the life of the patient while the malignant clones are extirpated. In the case of haematological neoplasms, the relative ease with which cells are accessible renders possible a range of molecular analyses which are much more difficult in solid tumours. Investigation of haematological neoplasms has therefore led the way in establishing paradigms for the development of investigative processes and treatments for all forms of human malignant disease. However, much still remains to be done and, although medical scientists in the UK took an early lead in haemato-oncology, there is now a real risk that without ongoing support, this internationally competitive edge may be lost.

2. The Faculty Board of Biology consider that the establishment of a Professorship of Oncological Pathology would provide the opportunity to align the academic developments within the Department of Pathology, particularly in the field of the pathology of haematological neoplasms and lymphomas, with other University resources, both in clinical service provision and the existing, or planned, strengths in academic haematology and oncology. The proposal for the establishment of the Professorship has been fully endorsed by the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine who share the view that strong academic leadership in oncology within the Department of Pathology would complement the interests of the new Hutchison/MRC Translational Research Centre on the Addenbrooke's Site and would further enhance the University's position as a centre of excellence for cancer research. In addition, the Department's clinical and research expertise in oncology, and haematological oncology, would complement the interests in stem cell biology in the Department of Haematology.

3. The person appointed to the Professorship would be expected to provide academic leadership in research into the nature, diagnosis, and treatment of malignancy, ideally with particular reference to haematological neoplasms. The Professor would assume responsibility for the teaching of clinical undergraduates, for undergraduate teaching in tumour biology, and for the training of Ph.D. students and research staff within the Department. He or she would also be expected to develop substantial external grant support and to contribute to the planning, management, and delivery of a lymphoma diagnostic service either within the Clinical Laboratory Services Directorate or an alternative specialist area.

4. The General Board have accepted the case made by the Faculty Board of Biology. Funds to meet the full cost of the Professorship will be available through the suppression of a University Lectureship, at Honorary Consultant level, that became vacant in the Department of Pathology on 1 August 1999 on the early retirement of Dr J. Arno. The Faculty Board have assured the General Board that suitable accommodation and support for the Professor will be available. The Board are assured that an appointment at this level will attract a strong field of well-qualified candidates.

5. The General Board accordingly propose that a Professorship of Oncological Pathology should be established in the University from 1 January 2001 and assigned to the Department of Pathology. They have agreed to concur in the view of the Faculty Board that election to the Professorship should be made by an ad hoc Board of Electors, and that candidature should be open to all whose work falls within the field of oncological pathology.

6. The General Board recommend:

That a Professorship of Oncological Pathology be established from 1 January 2001, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to the Department of Pathology.

4 October 2000

ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-Chancellor

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Cambridge University Reporter, 25 October 2000