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Professor Richard Neal is joining the University of Exeter in August. 

GP cancer expert bolsters Exeter’s research expertise

An internationally-recognised expert in cancer and primary care is joining the University of Exeter, where he will further strengthen a team that has helped improve cancer diagnosis in the UK.

Professor Richard Neal is moving to Exeter from the University of Leeds in August. An active GP, Richard is a UK leader in cancer research, and will take up a post of Professor of Primary Care at Exeter. His interests cover all aspects of how general practice and other primary care services diagnose and treat cancer. His expertise also spans cancer awareness, screening, and living with and beyond cancer. 

Richard will join Exeter’s high-profile cancer diagnostics research team, led by Professor Willie Hamilton, whose work is part of a successful national campaign to improve early detection of cancer.

Richard said: “I’m really excited to join the dynamic team at Exeter. Willie and I have longstanding collaborations, and the team has some incredible rising stars. Already, they’ve helped make great strides in the crucial work of improving cancer diagnosis in the UK which we know saves lives. I’m particularly looking forward to the opportunities around joining a university that is part of the NIHR School for Primary care Research. It’s a really neat segue with my research programme at Leeds, which I’m leaving in very safe hands and look forward to seeing grow from strength to strength. I am looking forward to new collaborations with Leeds in my new Exeter role.”

Richard and Willie collaborate on the CanTest Collaborative. Funded by a Cancer Research UK Catalyst Award, the project unites an international team of primary care cancer researchers working on early detection and diagnosis of cancer.

Willie said: “I’m delighted to welcome Richard. He has broad interest in many fields of primary care research, particularly in the field of cancer. Richard has an incredibly strong track record of research in diagnosis of symptomatic cancer, so increases our area of expertise there further. He also brings a new dimension of work to our team, in cancer screening. These two policy and research fields have always overlapped, so our international leadership in this area is now even stronger.”

Richard will continue a number of projects after his move to Exeter, including a collaboration with PinPoint Data Science to bring machine learning based upon laboratory measurements into prioritising urgent suspected cancer referrals from primary care. He is Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioner’s Scientific Foundation Board, and a former Chair of the National Cancer Research Institute’s Primary Care Clinical Studies Group. He chaired the Scientific Committee for the recent Society for Academic Primary Care’s Annual Scientific Meeting, successfully delivered virtually for the first time.

Professor Sallie Lamb, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health said: “A huge welcome to Richard, whose wealth of experience in cancer and primary care will bolster core research focus areas, where we already achieving nationwide impact in improving healthcare and ultimately saving lives. It’s a really exciting time to join us as we continue to grow, and to improve outcomes for patients.”

Date: 21 July 2021

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