The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) has granted this year’s Hamilton Fairley Award to Professor Carlos Caldas (University of Cambridge), whose research has opened up new horizons for understanding the biology of breast cancer.

The honour will be presented at the ESMO 2016 Congress, held 7 to 11 October in Copenhagen.

The Hamilton Fairley Award was established in 1998 to commemorate one of the founding fathers of medical oncology in Europe. It rewards medical oncologists for their outstanding achievements in cancer science and clinical / translational research.

Prof. Caldas’ research focus is the functional genomics of breast cancer and its biological and clinical implications. His laboratory redefined the molecular taxonomy of breast cancer, revealing novel subtypes and their respective drivers. It also completed microRNA (miRNA) profiling of 1,300 of the same tumours, which uncovered a new role for miRNAs as modulators of the immune response in a subset of breast cancers. His group co-led seminal studies defining the clonal heterogeneity of triple negative breast cancers and the patterns of whole-genome oestrogen receptor binding in primary tumours, which revealed new biology. Finally, his group co-led studies that established circulating tumour DNA as a monitoring biomarker and a liquid biopsy to unravel therapy resistance. More recently the laboratory has been developing the use of patient-derived tumour explants as a model system for breast cancer.

Commenting on what this acknowledgement means to him professionally, Prof. Caldas said: “ESMO is the association representing medical oncologists in Europe. As a medical oncologist and member of the organisation this is an extremely prestigious award for me. It is a recognition of excellence and of the contributions my group has made to our understanding of breast cancer. I feel extremely honored and humbled with receiving this award. In particular, as a Portuguese physician-scientist based in the UK.”

On behalf of the ESMO Fellowship and Award Committee, chair Christoph Zielinski said: “Prof. Carlos Caldas has excelled in molecular analyses and its implications in breast cancer where he has analysed an abundance of genomic and transcriptomic landscapes leading to a vastly ameliorated insight into the biology of the disease. Besides having published almost 400 original contributions on the topic, his research achievements have been published in such eminent journals as Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine, Oncogene and Nature Medicine.”

Prof. Caldas has been Professor of Cancer Medicine at the University of Cambridge, UK, since 2002. He is Head of the Breast Cancer Functional Genomics Laboratory at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, Honorary Consultant Medical Oncologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Lead of the Cambridge Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, and Director of the Breast Cancer Programme at the Cambridge Cancer Centre.

7 Sep 2016