Trinity Fellow, Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, Honorary Consultant in Gastroenterology at Addenbrooke’s NHS Trust, is one of 50 Movers & Shakers in BioBusiness 2017.
These annual awards by Cambridge-based BioBeat recognise and celebrate women driving innovation in healthcare. Among the 50 awardees are scientists harnessing the power of the natural immune response against critical diseases, developing third generation cancer vaccines, tackling drug resistance, and making specialist medical technology accessible to non-expert medical professionals in the community.
BioBeat Founder, Miranda Weston-Smith, said that the 50 women recognised this year ‘were transforming the pace, scale and ambition of what we can do to respond to global health challenges.’
With Cambridge Judge Business School’s Entrepreneurship Centre and the Innovation Forum as partners, BioBeat brings together scientific and business expertise to create a forum for investors and entrepreneurs, which ultimately benefits patients through new diagnostics and treatments.
Professor Fitzgerald and her team’s creation of the Cytosponge, coupled with molecular laboratory tests, looks set to transform detection of early stage oesophageal cancer. A patient swallows the ‘pill on a string’, which collects cells from the oesophagus as it is pulled out by the nurse. A specific laboratory test then determines whether pre-cancerous cells are present. The procedure is quick and cheap compared to existing tests for this type of cancer, and can take place in a GP surgery.
The Cytosponge has been licensed to Covidien GI Solutions (now Medtronic) and is in late stage randomised primary care trials, funded by Cancer Research UK, for Barrett’s oesophagus. ‘It is exciting to be able to move science from the lab bench to clinical application as we tackle this devastating cancer,’ Professor Fitzgerald said.
The Professor of Cancer Prevention at the Medical Research Council Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge said she was honoured to be included in the 50 Movers & Shakers in BioBusiness 2017. Professor Fitzgerald said:
It is important that women’s contributions are recognised in this way. The increasing complexity of moving innovative medical scientific research to the trial stage and into clinical practice to benefit patients depends on collaboration between the scientific, entrepreneurial and commercial communities.