International Women’s Day 2021
On International Women’s Day, we choose to celebrate the achievements of women and raise awareness about women’s equality across the globe. Colleagues from across the MCRC share how they are helping to address inequalities through their role and research, as well as identifying how else we can ensure equality throughout our partnerships. Today, we #ChooseToChallenge.
Charlotte Mellor: Postgraduate Researcher
My research focus is programmed cell death (apoptosis). Specifically, my aim is to try and understand the details surrounding how different proteins interact in order to cause cells to die. The lab I work in has a research focus in breast cancer, which is the second most common cause of cancer death in UK women, according to Cancer Research UK. It’s hoped that my research will be able to improve understanding of how certain chemotherapy drugs work. In the long-term, this might help doctors to make more informed decisions when treating their patients.
Dr Sinéad Savage, MCRC Strategic Research and Partnerships Manager
I work at the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, where I am the Strategic Research and Partnership Manager. I help researchers apply for research funding, or drive national and international research partnerships, like with academics or industry. I am addressing inequalities by ensuring that partnerships are developed with fairness and balance built in from the beginning. I think we need to always notice whether our meetings and panels are balanced and representative, and reach a stage where it doesn’t need to be planned, but is a natural result of a diverse pool of experts.
I am addressing inequalities by ensuring that partnerships are developed with fairness and balance built in from the beginning.
Dr Sinéad Savage
MCRC Strategic Research and Partnerships Manager
Dr Ellena Badrick: Research Associate
I provide support for Cancer Prevention and Early Detection projects within the Division of Cancer Sciences (DCS) at the University of Manchester. When planning future studies I try to ensure they are addressing any health inequalities as part of their aims. I also ensure committees within the Division of Cancer Sciences or Prevention and Early Detection (PED) events have an equal representation- and when we don’t I raise it. There is loads more to be done; at the very least a commitment to never have an all-male panel (#manel) at any university event.
Dr Martin Bone: International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) Programme Manager
The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) is a partnership that unites world leading researchers to tackle the biggest challenges in early detection, an important area of unmet clinical need. I run the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection operationally and strategically, making sure the research does what it need to do to impact early detection. Part of my role is to understand and work up an action plan of how to address issues and reduce health inequalities between different groups. A lot more needs to be done, and as an organisation we need to fully embrace the current issues and inequalities we face, accept what we don’t know, and get the right groups and people involved to open up the conversation.
A lot more needs to be done, and as an organisation we need to fully embrace the current issues and inequalities we face, accept what we don’t know, and get the right groups and people involved to open up the conversation.
Dr Martin Bone
International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) Programme Manager
Sarah Bellhouse: Postgraduate Researcher
Identifying women aged 30-39 years at increased risk of developing breast cancer would allow them to receive the benefits of enhanced screening and preventative strategies. My research is investigating how best to communicate breast cancer risk estimates to these women. Women from ethnic minorities are less likely to engage with early detection initiatives such as breast screening and present with later stage cancers. I am taking deliberate action to involve seldom heard communities in my research to avoid exacerbating health inequalities and to ensure the development of a more widely acceptable and accessible breast cancer risk assessment service.
Elizabeth Openshaw: NCITA Education and Communication Manager
My role involves developing educational and training materials, and communicating stories of research and innovation to a variety of audiences in engaging, novel and accessible ways. I work with the wider team and our partners to ensure communications are representative and balanced. Through our communications, it is important that we don’t shy away from the issues we currently face: instead, we must shine a light on current inequalities, and discuss and develop solutions together.
Danielle Love: Postgraduate Researcher
I am researching the biological effects of proton versus photon radiotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer. This is in the hope to enhance our understanding on how different radiation modalities alter tumour phenotype and may help select patients who benefit better from each. I want to be a successful contributor to scientific research in cancer and I don’t see why gender orientation should stop me from achieving this. I am lucky to work in a laboratory with successful women who are also striving to contribute to the field. It’s an empowering environment to thrive in.
I am lucky to work in a laboratory with successful women who are also striving to contribute to the field. It's an empowering environment to thrive in.
We support women in science, and we are working to address inequalities alongside our partners. Research at the University of Manchester is improving the lives of women across the world. The MB-PhD programme integrates research into a medicine course, and is supporting women to advance in academia. You can also read more about the staff and students who are tackling gender inequality in higher education and making access fairer for everyone.
From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.