Press Kit

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Fast Facts

Understanding Cancer Ltd is a cancer information service based in Aberdeenshire

The company was started in February 2008 by Avril Morrison, a cancer research scientist.

Avril designs and delivers a wide range of courses on cancer. The courses take place in Aberdeen and the surrounding area.

The courses are open to anyone who wants to learn more about cancer (you don’t have to have cancer, or know someone with cancer to attend)

Quotes

“people are naturally interested to learn more about cancer research, but a lot of the information out there, seems to be written in a foreign language”

“there are plenty of websites offering “miracle cures”, my website is an attempt to explain current, mainstream scientific findings without the jargon”

“there is a real need for scientists to explain what they’ve discovered, it is a complicated subject, but it affects us all and people have a right to know what is research is going on in the lab”

Frequently Asked Questions?

Are you a doctor?

Yes, but I am not a medical doctor. I have a Ph.D in Cell Biology, if you have backache, I can’t help, but I’m very good at working with cells in a petri dish!

I don’t work with patients, although I have worked in hospital research labs.

So what are you?

I’ve been called a number of things! I am a scientist, a laboratory scientist, a research scientist, a cancer research scientist, a cell biologist or a biochemist.

Who have you worked for? Anyone we might have heard of?

Not likely! In the past I have worked on Kidney Cancer and leukaemia that work was paid for by a cancer charity based in Scotland called the Association for International Cancer Research.

I have also worked for the American Institute of Cancer research, on a project looking at the effect of diet on breast cancer.

Both cancer charities shorten their name to AICR. (Scientists love abbreviations…)

Are you a Quack?

No, I am a mainstream scientist, I believe that conventional treatments (although far from perfect) offer the best chance of a cure.

What do you think about complementary and alternative medicine?

I have an open mind when it comes to complementary treatments (i.e. treatments used at the same time as conventional therapies) I think that complementary treatments have an important role to play in supporting people especially when modern medical methods have little left to offer.

I don’t agree with alternative treatments (treatments taken instead of conventional treatment) that imply that eating one particular foodstuff is going to save your life. Or that cancer is caused by negative thoughts or feelings or bottling things up. These are my view, this is my website, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me.

Do you believe large drug companies are in a conspiracy and don’t want to cure cancer because it’s too profitable?

No!! I have yet to meet a scientist that didn’t want to cure cancer. Cancer research is hard, there are more than two hundred different types of cancer, when you see the complicated chemical reactions taking place inside one single cell, then you begin to realise why cancer research is so complicated and takes such a long time.

Will there ever be a cure for cancer? A “magic bullet”?

I don’t think there will ever be one single cure for cancer, I do feel hopeful for the future though. There are so many different types of cancer, I think that in time, we will be able to treat individual cancers with specific drugs.

For example, you will go to the doctor and they will say, “well you have leukaemia, and you have this particular type, so if you take this specific drug, you will be able to live with your disease”

I hope that in the next 50 years, these sort of treatments will become routine and cancer will be “managed” in the same way people are able to live with diabetes. One hundred years ago diabetes was a fatal disease, now people are able to live long and healthy lives. Of course diabetes is due to a fault with just one protein, insulin. Cancer can be caused by a fault in many different proteins, but hopefully our research will pay off and the treatments will get better.

Is there a down side to these “personal treatments”?

Yes the cost, as we’ve seen with herceptin it is valuable for treating some (and only some) types of breast cancer, these treatments are very expensive. These sort of treatments are only going to be available to people in the more developed parts of the world who can afford to pay for them. It raises real and difficult questions for the NHS.

Press Reports

Press and Journal 17-10-08

Press and Journal 19-4-08  http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/597476

Huntly Express 18-4-08

Press Releases

Cancer course first for Aberdeen City 9-10-08

A unique course that helps people find and understand information on cancer is taking place in the city on the 17th of October.

Cancer research specialist Dr Avril Morrison has designed an intensive one day course called Understanding Cancer, which is open to anyone interested in finding out more about the disease.

Dr Morrison, a former pupil of the Gordon Schools, Huntly says: “This course is open to anyone who wants to learn a bit more about cancer. There is so much information available, in the news and on the web, that knowing where to start is half the battle.”

The course, on the 17th of October, will cover topics such as what is cancer? and what is a gene? and will let participants discuss recent news reports about cancer research.

The course aims to make people more confident about finding cancer information and understanding medical jargon.

Dr Morrison says “I realised there were plenty of professional training courses available to scientists but practically no courses available to the general public, I designed the course for people who have no formal qualifications in biology just a desire to learn more”

“Laboratory work is vital to finding better treatments for cancer, but I felt it was important to let people know what this research is actually telling us”

Dr Morrison is an Open University Lecturer and has previously worked for the Association for International Cancer Research and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Further information can be found at http://www.hpa-midas.org.uk or by phoning (01466) 66 81 88

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The course is being held in the Holiday Inn Express, Chapel Street, Aberdeen on Friday the 17th of October from 9:30am to 4:30pm and costs £95.

Understanding Cancer Ltd is a cancer information service based in Aberdeenshire and run by Avril Morrison

No prior knowledge is required to attend


Local scientist launches cancer information service 12-4-08

A unique class dispelling the myths around cancer is being launched by a Huntly scientist.

Cancer research specialist Dr Avril Morrison has designed a 10-week evening class called Understanding Cancer, which is open to anyone interested in finding out more about the disease.

Dr Morrison, a former pupil of the Gordon Schools, says: “These classes are open to anyone who wants to learn a bit more about cancer. There is so much information available, in the news and on the web, that knowing where to start is half the battle.”

The course, starting on April 22, will cover topics such as what is cancer? and what is a gene? and will let participants discuss recent news reports about cancer research.

Dr Morrison added: “I am not a doctor, so if you have any worries about your health you need to see your GP. But when it comes to biology and understanding the jargon, I really know my stuff!”

She is also running a one-day intensive course for people who cannot attend the evening class, as well as advanced training on research techniques for GPs.

Further information can be found at http://www.hpa-midas.org.uk or on 01466 668188.

Classes run from April 22 in the meeting room of the Brander Library, Huntly from 7.30pm till 9pm. The cost is £66 for 10 weeks.

Notes to editors:

Understanding Cancer Ltd is a new cancer information service based in Aberdeenshire and run by Avril Morrison.

No prior knowledge is required.

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Contact Details

The best way to contact me is by email, using the contact form on this website. I try to reply promptly (often within an hour or two). You can also contact me by phone on (01466) 66 81 88