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Dr Robert Watson has won one of three McElwain and President's Prizes from the Association of Cancer Physicians for his DPhil work undertaken with Professor Ben Fairfax.

The Association of Cancer Physicians (ACP) is the speciality organisation for medical oncology in the UK. The McElwain Awards were established by the friends and colleagues of the late Professor Tim McElwain to commemorate his extraordinary contribution to the development of Medical Oncology in the UK.  In addition, since 2020, the ACP also offers an additional President's Prize.  The Prizes are awarded annually to UK trainees in medical oncology who have performed high-quality research on either clinical or basic research related to cancer.

Dr Robert Watson is one of three prize-winners selected by the ACP for the McElwain and Presidents Prizes in 2023 for their outstanding applications. This award resulted from peer review of his DPhil work performed in the Fairfax Group. Robert focussed on transcriptomic and clonal changes to CD8+ T-cells following immune checkpoint blockade treatment in patients with metastatic melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. In particular, his work looked at T-cell repertoire changes in both the short-term and following a long-term response to PD-1 blockade. His results have been published in Science Immunology and Nature Medicine, with a further paper currently in pre-print, as well as oral presentations at the ESMO and IUIS congresses. Robert has remained in the Fairfax Group in the Department of Oncology, having been awarded a Clinical Lecturer position funded by the CRIS cancer foundation - this will allow him to continue to conduct post-doctoral research, alongside finishing his clinical training in medical oncology. 

Robert said: “It is humbling to be awarded the McElwain Prize for my DPhil work in Ben’s group, and I’m extremely proud to have national recognition for our research which aims to improve immunotherapy treatment for patients with advanced cancers.  None of it would have been possible without contributions from many others including talented colleagues in the Fairfax Group, core facilities at the MRC WIMM - particularly the Single Cell facility - staff and patients at OUH and supervision from Ben Fairfax and Mark Middleton."

Professor Ben Fairfax said: "I am so pleased that Rob has been awarded this prize - it reflects his hard work and great approach over a number of years and it is wonderful to see this being recognised."

Many congratulations to Dr Watson!