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STEM for Britain silver medal success for James Larkin

Dr James Larkin, a postdoctoral researcher from Nicola Sibson’s lab in the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Biology, has won a silver medal in 2018 STEM for Britain, a Parliamentary poster competition that gives researchers the chance to present their work to policymakers and politicians and discuss their work with local MPs.

STEM for Britain, organised by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee with support from the Royal Society of Biology, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics, is open to early career researchers engaged in scientific, engineering, technological or medical research.

James, alongside more than 40 bioscientists at the event, presented his research on brain tumour diagnostics, taking one of three medals home from the competition. His research is on developing a technique to diagnose brain tumours as early as possible by profiling the metabolites in urine samples.

Around one in five cancer patients develop secondary tumours, or metastases, which spread to the brain. These are hard to diagnose early using current techniques and late-stage diagnosis limits therapeutic options. James and the team have shown that this novel technique can be used to diagnose and track development of metastases in mice and are now trialling the same methods in patients with brain metastases.

On winning the award, James said, "I had a great time at the STEM for Britain event and met a number of people interested in my research and its applications. To be recognised with an award as well is a fantastic honour and I would like to thank the judges for their confidence in my work.

"In addition, I would like to thank my funders, Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council, for supporting this work, as well as my colleagues and collaborators, without whom none of this project would be possible."

Stephen Metcalfe MP, chair of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said: “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. 

“These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and STEM for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

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