By Sadhbh Hendrick
NUI Galway researcher John Daly was named PhD Researcher of the Year at the recent Irish Cancer Society Research Awards. John, who is currently doing a PhD at the University, was presented with the award for his studies into combating Multiple Myeloma, a type of blood cancer for which there is currently no cure. A past winner of a biomedical research scholarship from the Irish Cancer Society, John’s team has focused on a type of immune cell called natural killer cells that normally destroy cancer cells but are unable to detect those of Multiple Myeloma.
John was awarded his research grants from the Irish Cancer Society in 2017 after a competitive and thorough application process, with proposals strenuously vetted and reviewed by an international, external panel of research professionals to ensure the very best research gets funded. The Irish Cancer Society monitors John’s progress throughout the four-year research project, ensuring their research is carried out to world-class standards. Commenting on the scholarships, Dr Robert O’Connor, Head of Research at the Irish Cancer Society, said: “Fostering the development of strong Irish cancer research careers in key to ensuring that Ireland continues to play an ever more important part in efforts to overcome cancer. We want the donations we receive from the public to go towards world-class cancer research, and so have developed a stringent three-tier review process that research applicants must get through before receiving funding for their work”.
To apply, you must be a cancer expert and to be awarded, you must stand out in this very competitive field. John and his colleagues are attempting to find ways of boosting these Natural Killer cells so that they can successfully detect and destroy Multiple Myeloma cells, in a development that would revolutionise treatment for the disease.
Commenting on his award, Daly said: “I’m absolutely delighted, a lot of hard work has gone into this so far, not just from me but everyone in my group, and particularly my supervisor and co-supervisor, Professor Michael O’Dwyer of NUI Galway and Dr Mattias Carlsten, Karolinska Institute. Things like this are really encouraging and motivating for the next couple of years as we try to move our research on”.
Professor Michael O’Dwyer, Professor of Haematology at NUI Galway, spoke of his pride in John’s achievements: “I am very proud of John’s recent achievements. This is a reflection on his own hard work, the supportive ecosystem in my laboratory, our collaboration with the Karolinska Institute, and of course the generous support of the Irish Cancer Society. John’s work is helping to usher in a new era of immunotherapy for cancer, employing the use of genetically modified immune cells called natural killer cells, which we believe have great potential”.