Belfast Scientists making waves in San Diego at the Annual American Society of Haematology Conference.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Belfast based scientists James Smith and Dr Lisa Crawford are gearing up for a trip to San Diego at the end of this week to attend the annual American Society of Haematology Conference.

This conference has been the pinnacle event for scientific exchange in haematology for over fifty years and currently attracts crowds of over twenty thousand people from all over the world. In order to attend applicants must submit an abstract of their research for review by a board of experts who will decide if the project is off enough merit to warrant a poster display or presentation. The competition to attend is fierce with more than 40% of applicants being turned away.  

James and Lisa are both based in the Queens University Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, one of the country’s leading research facilities. Funded by local charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI and British charity Bloodwise the duo have been making great progress in blood cancer research. Current statistics show that almost one hundred people in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with blood cancer in Northern Ireland every month and unfortunately survival rates are considerably lower than what they are for other illnesses.

James Smith is currently in his third year of a PhD studentship supported by local charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI. James will be presenting a poster on his project which is focused on the role of mutations of the cohesin gene family in Myeloid Malignancies, by understanding what the mutations are doing and assessing if that can then provide a treatment strategy for those patients.

Getting the chance to attend this event is a highlight in any career but it is particularly impressive for James to attend whilst still working on his PhD.  This opportunity is a clear indication of the level of scientific expertise we have in Belfast both in terms of research and as a teaching facility.

Dr Lisa Crawford has been working in the haematology group at Queens University for the past nine years, in this time she has had twenty pieces of research published.  Lisa will be giving an oral presentation on her project which looks at a new way to possibly target a group of proteins that are in important in the growth and survival of multiple myeloma cells. Lisa will be giving her presentation to thousands of attendees; she will be the third person ever from Northern Ireland to obtain this distinguished opportunity.

It is great to see Belfast based scientists getting recognition in the field and hopefully this conference works to highlight Northern Ireland as an area for expertise in the field.  Despite working with much smaller budgets, fewer resources and less manpower, scientists here have produced work of the highest standard that could provide real solutions for patients in Northern Ireland.  

If you are interested in supporting or finding out more about the haematology research projects running here in Belfast, please get in touch with Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI.