John Findlay wins Royal Society of Medicine Glaxo Travelling Fellowship

The CRUK Oxford Centre is delighted to announce that The Royal Society of Medicine recently awarded Centre member, John Findlay, its 2014 Glaxo Travelling Fellowship. John is a General Surgery Registrar in the Oxford Deanery, and a Senior Clinical Research Fellow in OesophagoGastric Surgery at the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre. His research interests focus on personalising therapy for patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer, on the basis of molecular, clinical and radiological biomarkers.

The 2014 Glaxo Travelling Fellowship was awarded for his paper ‘Novel classifications of oesophageal cancer FDG-avid nodal stage and metabolic response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and predicting progression to metastatic and unresectable disease’. This paper also won the 2014 Royal Society of Medicine Sylvia Lawler Clinical Poster Prize, and 2014 Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons of Greater Britain Poster Prize.

This study of 383 patients with oesophageal cancer treated in Oxford at the Churchill Hospital aimed to determine the utility of restaging oesophageal cancer after neoadjuvant chemotherapy with positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT), and was undertaken as part of John’s PhD. PET-CT was shown for the first time to be twice as sensitive as CT for detecting interval metastases after neoadjuvant chemotherapy for oesophageal cancer, with decision theory supporting routine re-staging PET-CT for all patients. In addition, new classifications of FDG-avid nodal stage and metabolic response to chemotherapy and predictive models were developed, which could identify patients at high risk of interval progression to metastatic or unresectable disease before surgery, and also those with a worse prognosis afterwards.

After his success with this paper John is now exploring whether PET-CT may have a similar predictive role in gastric and other gastrointestinal cancers. He commented that he was honoured to receive this prize on behalf of his collaborators, and hopes very much that these findings will have immediate use in counselling patients with oesophageal cancer, and also in identifying those patients who will benefit from additional staging and re-staging investigations.