Pat Smullen Chair in Pancreatic Cancer announced for UCD

The Smullen family: (l-r) Ger Smullen, Paddy Smullen, Áine Smullen, Mary Smullen, Frances Crowley, and Sarah and Hannah Smullen at the launch of the Pat Smullen Chair in Pancreatic Cancer at University College Dublin. (Picture: Gareth Chaney)

Cancer Trials Ireland, the national organisation dedicated to advancing cancer clinical trials, has this week announced the creation of the Pat Smullen Chair in Pancreatic Cancer at University College Dublin. The new position will anchor expertise in pancreatic research in Ireland, a form of cancer which has one of the poorest outcomes.

The new role is named in memory of Pat Smullen, the nine-time champion jockey who passed away from pancreatic cancer in September 2020 at the age of 43. According to the Irish Cancer Society, there are approximately 620 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in Ireland.

The disease is both challenging to treat and to study, and as its incidence is lower than more common forms of cancer, such as breast, lung, and colorectal cancers, to date pancreatic cancer hasn’t seen the same levels of attention that other cancers attract.

Frances Crowley, wife of the late Pat Smullen, said the announcement builds on new treatment options for pancreatic cancer that would not have arisen but for the funds raised.

“The Pat Smullen Pancreatic Cancer Fund has already brought new treatment options to people in Ireland that weren’t there in 2019. Now, just four years later, one trial has concluded, another has just opened, a third will open in the coming months, while a fourth is in the pipeline for late 2023/early 2024.”

The new chair will share their time between their clinical work as a treating physician at St Vincent’s University Hospital – the national surgical centre for pancreatic cancer – and their research work at University College Dublin (UCD).