Translating discoveries into benefits for patients
Professor of Radiation Oncology at Queen's, Joe works as a clinical academic consultant oncologist at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital where he is Clinical Director of Oncology. He is one of two Clinical Co-Directors of the first regional Movember Centre of Excellence, a partnership between Queen's and the University of Manchester which is funded by Prostate Cancer UK and the Movember Foundation. £5m will be invested in the Centre over a five-year period to improve outcomes for men with advanced prostate cancer.
What is your main area of research?
I lead the clinical research effort in prostate cancer and radiation therapy. I work closely with scientific colleagues at the CCRCB, particularly with Professor David Waugh and Professor Kevin Prise in helping to translate their scientific discoveries into benefits for patients.
What impact is your research having on people’s lives?
Clinical research has a number of benefits for patients. Firstly, it offers hope where sometimes hope is in short supply. It also drives quality in the health service by bringing in new therapies and new approaches to treatment in a very safe and controlled way. Using research, we have been able to offer many of the new and exciting types of radiotherapy to patients long before they would have been available in the NHS. For example, an advanced form of radiotherapy called IMRT was introduced in Belfast back in 2008 as part of a clinical trial and is now standard practice.
What will the new Movember Centre of Excellence mean for Queen’s and Northern Ireland?
It will mean that Queen's is recognised as a major player in the global prostate cancer research community. It will lead to improved outcomes for prostate cancer patients everywhere. We will also be in a position to attract the most talented prostate cancer researchers from around the world to work in Queen's, something which is already starting to happen. The money will be used to execute our programme of research into better understanding the genetics of radiation therapy in prostate cancer and improving outcomes for patients. We will be creating a number of new scientific and clinical research positions in order to get the research completed.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love playing guitar and piano. I have written quite a few songs about my experience of seeing men and their partners facing illness and I released my debut album, Take a Deep Breath, in 2015 with all proceeds donated to a local cancer charity, The Friends of The Cancer Centre. I also like to keep fit by running and mountain biking. It has been a great joy in the last few years to be able to include my kids in both the music and the running.
What is your favourite app?
My favourite app is the RTE radio player. I love radio and this app keeps me in touch with happenings in Ireland. I especially love Callan's Kicks and John Bowman's archive show.
If I wasn’t a clinical academic/oncologist I would be…
I'd love to be a full-time song writer but a talent deficit might be a problem with that career choice!
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself
My Dad's name is Joseph and he is a carpenter, my Mum's name is Mary, I was the first born...
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without?
My Garmin 405 forerunner – essential for running and cycle training.
Outside of your research interests, what fascinates you?
Evolution and the enormity of the Universe fascinate me.