A Fylde lecturer has won a top international award for pioneering research which could lead to thousands of lives being saved worldwide every year.
Dr Matt Baker, a senior chemistry lecturer who lives in Lytham, has developed a blood-based test for the early diagnosis of cancerous brain tumours.
He was chosen for the award, given by Spectroscopy magazine at an international spectroscopy conference in Miinnesota in the USA, by a committee of prominent international experts in the field.
They chose him as their Emerging Leader in Molecular Spectroscopy for his ‘outstanding research into real-life applications of analytical chemistry’.
Dr Baker, 34, a former student of Kirkham’s Carr Hill High School and Sixth Form Centre, who lives in Lytham with wife Frances and children Oscar, five. and Ada, two specialises in a branch of chemistry called spectroscopy, which involves testing samples, using light. As well as collecting his award, Dr Baker gave a plenary lecture on the research project.
He is now investigating whether the test can detect chemical changes in the body that can occur in advance of symptoms, enabling doctors to monitor and treat patients as soon as possible.
Working with Dr Baker on the project is consultant oncologist Dr Ruth Board, who is based at the Rosemere Cancer Centre, the region’s specialist radiotherapy and treatment centre, at the Royal Preston Hospital.
Many of the patients Dr Board sees there are skin cancer patients and it was through her work with them that led to Rosemere Cancer Foundation agreeing to fund the project.
Dr Baker, who now lectures at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, previously worked at Preston’s University of Central Lancashire and before that for the Ministry of Defence in Salisbury.
He said: a“It’s a great honour to be chosen for this award by such a committee of experts. There is a need for new diagnostics for cancer and my aim is to translate our spectroscopic technology to help patients.”
Skin cancer is now the UK’s fifth most common cancer. Of patients treated for the disease, up to approximately 20 per cent are at a higher risk of their cancer metastasizing – this means, of developing other secondary cancerous tumours in other parts of their body. One of the most common sites for these secondary tumours is in the brain.
Dr Baker added: “By working to develop a simple blood-based test, the hope for the future is that doctors will be able to identify those at the highest risk of developing a brain tumour so that they can be closely monitored and treated at the first signs of the disease.”