April 2013

Nobel Laureate Launches Mater’s Oncology / Haematology Unit

Mon, 29 April 13 09:00

Image: Dr Peter O'Gorman, Professor Des Carney and Professor James Watson (Fennell Photography)

Today, Professor James D Watson, best known as a co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule and Nobel laureate officially launched the Mater’s state-of-the-art Haematology / Oncology ward, in the new Whitty Building.

This new combined Haematology-Oncology clinical facility with 33 hepa-filtered single en-suite rooms greatly increases capacity and treats patients with cutting edge therapies.

This new unit is the centre-point of the Mater Institute for Research & Therapy-Ireland translational research program that includes the Blood Cancer Clinician-Scientist Academy linked to Dana Farber Cancer Institute / Harvard University, Boston, the joint Oncology-Haematology UCD Clinical Trials Unit and the scientific research programmes based at the National Institute of Cellular Biotechnology, DCU and Jerome Lipper Laboratory, Boston, “ stated Dr Peter O’Gorman, Consultant Haematologist, UCD lecturer, and Director of the Mater Institute for Research & Therapy.

The discovery of the structure and function of the DNA molecule by Watson and Crick in 1953 initiated a scientific and medical revolution that has culminated in the development of molecularly targeted therapies that have revolutionised cancer treatment.

Exceptional and compassionate patient care, access to new anti-cancer agents through participation in clinical trials and a well-regarded training programme for doctors and nurses in medical oncology are three strong elements underpinning the cancer-care ethos at the Mater. The new inpatient ward and the outpatient clinic will soon be followed by the opening of the Carney Day Oncology / Haematology Unit, named for three generations of a family of Mater doctors.

My colleague, Professor Des Carney, was the first appointed medical oncologist in north Dublin. From where he started, three decades ago, to where we are today – a wonderful place to work - is a tribute to his drive and vision, stated his colleague, Professor John McCaffrey, Director of the Cancer Clinical Trials Research Unit at the Mater and Associate Clinical Professor at UCD.

At the launch Professor James Dewey Watson was presented with ‘Haemos’ a limited edition print by the artist and leukemia patient Robert Ballagh. In recognition of the link with Prof Watson and all those who played a role in his recovery Robert created and developed the MIRT Ireland logo into a limited edition print as a fundraiser.

In the summer of 2010, to my great surprise, I was diagnosed with leukemia. I use the word surprise because I was never seriously ill a day in my life, there was a certain degree of fear and trepidation because, like most people, I knew absolutely nothing about cancer and particularly about blood cancers, “ said Robert Ballagh, the renowned Irish artist.

I found myself on a steep learning curve and happily discovering how recent research and development has resulted in therapies that produce much better results. In my case after 4 months of chemotherapy I was in remission. My good health is due in no small part to those involved in cancer research. This new unit ensures patients are cared for in a world class environment, at a very difficult time in their life, ensuring best possible response to treatment.

If you are interested in obtaining a limited edition ‘Haemos’ print by artist Robert Ballagh, visit the MIRT website. All proceeds to go to the MIRT foundation.

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