Louise Dawson
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Q & A with Midlands researcher

Louise Dawson
Posted by
06 May 2015

In Birmingham, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research invests £18.3 million into blood cancer research and funds 29 projects in the city, one of our largest research centres.

Developing new cures and treatments for blood cancer is at the heart of our charity but so are the people behind the science. Our researchers carry out vital and complex work to identify how blood cancers work and how we can treat them.

We’re taking you behind the scenes to introduce you to one of the leading researchers here in Birmingham and hear a little more about the work he does, Professor Paul Murray.

Paul Murray, Professor of Molecular Pathology, School of Cancer Sciences, University of Birmingham

1. Can you tell us about your research work here in Birmingham?

My lab has a Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research funded programme grant that is investigating how two related lymphomas -Hodgkin lymphoma and diffuse large B cell lymphoma - develop. Both of these lymphomas affect a type of white blood cell called a B cell. We are particularly interested in understanding how two cancer causing lipids (fats) lead to the development of these tumours. This could be very important as drugs are being developed against these lipids. Birmingham is one of the major centres for this kind of work in the UK and it’s a great privilege to work with so many great people all with the same aim of curing blood cancers.

2. How long have you been a blood cancer researcher? And based here at the University of Birmingham?

I have worked on B cell lymphomas for almost 25 years, although it only seems like yesterday!

3. What attracted you to blood cancer research?  In particular, Lymphoma?

I first started working on B cell lymphomas because some types are caused by a cancer-causing virus, known as the Epstein-Barr virus. I was, and still am, fascinated by this virus and how it interacts with B cells.

4. What do you love about your job?

Being a Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research funded scientist is really hard work but great fun. It is a constant challenge to interpret our findings and design new experiments. We know if we succeed, we can make a difference to patients and their families.

5. Can you tell us what a typical day might be for you or one of your team in the labs?

Unfortunately these days I don't get to do any experiments myself, but I have a great team who do. A lot of my time is spent discussing the lab's results, designing experiments and writing the next research paper or grant proposal!

6. What do you hope to achieve through your work?

Our motivation is the patients we hope to benefit, but along the way we are learning a lot about how cancers develop - this could be helpful in the future for people with other types of cancer.

7. Have you or your team ever done any fundraising for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research? And did you enjoy the experience?

We have organised various Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research fundraising activities, including open days. We don't get to see patients or their families very often so the team are really motivated when they do.

8. Can you tell us a little bit about your life outside research?

I have six children (Leanne, Emma, Joe, Connah, Eileen and George) who keep us busy at home. My partner Kate is also a Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research funded scientist, so it’s often a topic over dinner too!

9. You are one of our speakers at the Birmingham Cancer Showcase event on 11th June at University of Birmingham.  What can we look forward to?

I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak at this event. I hope to share some of our exciting work which is leading to the use of new drugs for patients with B cell lymphomas.