Oldham scientist backs World Cancer Day


An Oldham scientist, who is playing an important role in developing cancer drugs of the future to improve treatment for patients, is urging people to support World Cancer Day on Saturday 4 February.

Habiba Begum, 26, from Glodwick, works at the Drug Discovery Unit at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute – part of The University of Manchester – where she is part of a team helping to develop new drugs to treat cancer patients.

The 26-year-old, who went to Hathershaw College and Oldham Sixth Form College, is encouraging people to wear a Cancer Research UK Unity Band on Saturday 4 February to mark World Cancer Day and to help fund vital research.

Habiba, who works as a cell biologist, has recently worked as part of a team who are developing a potential new treatment for lung cancer.

After leaving Oldham Sixth Form College, Habiba studied Biomedical Sciences, followed by a masters’ degree in Tissue Engineering in Regenerative Medicine, both at The University of Manchester. She came to work at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute two years ago Habiba said: “I have always enjoyed science and trying to understand how things work - it’s a universal language.

“I’ve become more exposed to people with cancer and have seen the devastation it brings to people and those around them.

“I’ve been blessed with knowledge and a good education and want to use them to help combat this global disease.

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate – it affects anyone, which is one of the reasons why research – and the fundraising that allows us to do it - is hugely important, so we can help more people survive this disease.”

Habiba’s role as a cell biologist varies from day-to day. One day she will be in the laboratory working with cancer cells and investigating new drugs chemists have made. On other days she will be reading about the new cancer research coming out of other laboratories and institutes around the world.

“Our research at the Drug Discovery Unit focuses on cancers where there aren’t always many treatment options available,” she explains. “It’s highly rewarding work - especially knowing your research could benefit generations to come.”

A recent project carried out by Habiba’s team has seen them announce plans to further develop a promising class of cancer drugs called RET inhibitors - which Habiba says has been really exciting.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate – it affects anyone, which is one of the reasons why research – and the fundraising that allows us to do it - is hugely important, so we can help more people survive this disease
Habiba Bequm

The potential drug candidate was identified through the Drug Discovery Unit in collaboration with the Cancer Research Technology Pioneer Fund and offers the potential to help boost survival for lung cancer.

Habiba said: “It’s really exciting to get to this stage and represents an outstanding achievement by the team as a whole.”

In addition to her day job, Habiba is a keen fundraiser for Cancer Research UK. She took part in the Bear Grylls 10K Survival Race at Tatton Park last September with her team raising £1,780 for Stand Up To Cancer. And after World Cancer Day, she is gearing up to take part in the Walk All Over Cancer challenge where she and work colleagues will be sponsored to walk, jog or run 10,000 steps each day in March to for Cancer Research UK.

* For more information about World Cancer Day or to pick up a CRUK Unity Band to wear with pride on Saturday 4 February, please visit: www.cruk.org/worldcancerday

* To sponsor Habiba on her 10,000 steps challenge go to: https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/cruk-mi-drug-discovery-unit

About World Cancer Day 2017

  • World Cancer Day 2017 takes place on Saturday 4 February 2017.
  • Around every two minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer.
  • There are 200 cancer types and 65 million of us.
  • Cancer Research UK is calling on the nation to wear a Unity Band and play a part in one incredible ‘Act of Unity’ to beat cancer sooner.
  • CRUK is working with nine other charities to unity the public in a simple but powerful life changing act – wearing a Unity Band. By joining forces, we will make a bigger impact in transforming the lives of millions who are affected by cancer.
  • Charities include CLIC Sargent, Movember Foundation, Anthony Nolan, Breast Cancer Care, Breast Cancer now, Bowel Cancer UK, Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group, Marie Curie and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
  • Unity Bands are available in all Cancer Research UK stores and online at cruk.org/worldcancerday for a suggested donation of £2.
  • For the first time this year, a range of Unity Bands have been designed for children and can be found in M&Co stores across the UK for a suggested donation of £1.
  • Social media hashtag: #ActofUnity.

For further information about World Cancer Day, please visit www.cruk.org/worldcancerday


Cancer is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons

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