A Critical Nexus:The Clinician and the Researcher.
14 July 2020
As clinician researchers, with busy clinical loads, our greatest challenge is ﬁnding time to engage deeply in the science. But it is necessary to deliver on our research goals.
The nexus between the clinician and the researcher is critical and underpins successful cancer research.
Embedded in every academic clinical cancer service there needs to be a vibrant program of research, which includes basic and translational research. Similarly, embedded in every cancer-related research laboratory, strong links to clinicians at the front line are essential. By working together, clinicians and scientists can gain insights beyond those easily achieved individually.
The clinician and scientist approach the cancer challenge from differing perspectives. Clinicians have a global perspective of the disease enabling them to identify what needs to change for maximal impact. Scientists tend to have a meticulous understanding of speciﬁc steps within complex biological systems - breaking the big picture into smaller parts, thus identifying opportunities for manipulation. Neither can successfully achieve the goal without the other.
This symbiotic relationship is well illustrated by modern cancer immunotherapy. For decades, clinicians recognised that immune manifestations correlated with good outcomes, but it was not until James Allison and Tasuko Honjo identiﬁed critical checkpoints in immune regulation that the opportunity to harness the immune system against cancer was realised. Now, checkpoint inhibitor drug therapies have transformed the cancer ﬁeld, highlighting what can be achieved when clinicians and scientists build upon their respective insights.
Article by Professor Georgina Long AO and Profesor Richard Scolyer, Melanoma Institute Australia and University of Sydney.
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