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Recognising excellence

26 November 2009

Dr Saman Hewamana at work in the laboratoryDr Saman Hewamana at work in the laboratory

A Cardiff scientist has been recognised for his ground-breaking research into the most common form of adult leukaemia with a prestigious award from The Royal College of Pathologists.

Dr Saman Hewamana of the School of Medicine has been awarded the College’s Gold Research Medal for his work on chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). Specifically, the award recognises his recent paper published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The paper describes how the measurement of a protein called Rel A provides unique clinical information about CLL patients such that it can accurately identify those individuals with the highest risk of disease progression and poor clinical outcome.

Given annually, the Gold Medal is awarded by the College for outstanding research work undertaken by pathologists or scientists in training in the UK.

Dr Chris Pepper is one of the co-leaders of the research team involving Dr Hewamana. Commenting on the award, Dr Pepper said: "We are delighted that Sam has been given this honour as it is richly deserved recognition for the hard work and success that he has achieved with us over the last four years."

One of Dr Hewamana’s most important findings during his research has been the discovery of a link between large amounts of a protein called NF-kB and the growth of CLL. He was also able to show that an experimental drug, tested in patients' cells in the laboratory, can block NF-kB action, resulting in the death of leukaemia cells.

The research group at large has made significant progress in understanding and tackling leukaemia. They have already identified a key protein in the blood that prevents chemotherapy killing leukaemia cells and have proved a genetic susceptibility to developing chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

Dr Hewamana’s research was funded by Leukaemia Research UK.

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