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Queen’s Professor receives European Cancer Award

Professor Mark Lawler, Professor of Digital Health and Chair in Translational Cancer Genomics at Queen’s University Belfast has received a Special Merit Award from the European Cancer Organisation (ECO).

Professor Mark Lawler standing under the clock tower in Queen's quadrangle, March 2019

The award was presented by ECO President, Professor Andreas Charalambous, at the recent ECO Summit in Brussels. It recognises the outstanding contribution Professor Lawler has made in aiding our understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns has had on cancer services and cancer patients across Europe.   

Professor Lawler co-chaired the European Cancer Organisation’s Special Network on the Impact of Covid-19 on Cancer and led the research which provided the crucial evidence that highlighted the disastrous impact that the pandemic had across Europe for people with cancer. 

The research indicated that 100 million screening tests had not been performed and that as many as one million cancer diagnoses may have been missed. It also showed that 4 out of 10 cancer professionals burned out and 3 out of 10 showing signs of clinical depression during and post pandemic.  

The work was widely quoted by key European leaders including Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission and Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, and significantly contributed to the European response to the impact of COVID on cancer.  

Professor Lawler receiving the European Cancer Organisation’s special merit award from President Andreas Charalambous in Brussels  

Commenting on the award, Professor Lawler said: “I am humbled by this award from an organisation that is recognised as a European leader in cancer and the voice of cancer policy in Europe. I would like to thank my colleagues as this is very much a team award for the work we have done together to shine a light on the catastrophic impact of COVID on cancer patients. I am passionate about the use of data to provide the evidence and help define the solutions to force change, so that people affected by cancer can lead longer, more productive lives. This work exemplifies how data can truly save lives.” 

Commenting on the award Mr Mike Morrissey, CEO of the European Cancer Organisation, the largest inter-professional cancer organisation in Europe and the voice of European cancer policy, said: “Professor Lawler has shown real leadership in driving the research that showed the impact of Covid on cancer. The work has been cited at the highest political level in Europe and has contributed greatly to ensuring that cancer remains at the top of the European health agenda. This award is an overwhelming assertion of Professor Lawler’s standing in the European cancer community and beyond and his passion to deliver what is best for cancer patients.”