Bowel cancer research in Wales boosted by Livery Company award

A Swansea University researcher who is examining new ways to tackle colorectal cancer has been awarded a travel scholarship by the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, allowing him to present his research at a major international scientific conference.

Rory Kokelaar is a clinical lecturer and researcher at Swansea University Medical School, and has close working links with the colorectal teams at Singleton and Morriston hospitals. Once he finishes his PhD, he is planning to complete his surgical training. 

Colorectal (bowel) cancer is now the most common gender non-specific cancer in Wales, and is the second leading cause of cancer-related death.  His research is on the different ways in which rectal cancers behave. 

Some spread only to nearby areas, but others spread to distant parts of the body, which makes tailored care for individual patients critical.  Rory’s work is looking at why certain tumours behave in different and potentially more dangerous ways.  Understanding what is happening is a step towards finding better treatments.

Rory’s research has now been given a big boost by the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, which has awarded him a travel scholarship of £1000, following a competition open to Swansea University researchers who are in the early stages of their career.

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Picture: Rory Kokelaar in his laboratory at Swansea University Medical School, with Jenny Aubrey and Bob Clarke of the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales

The Company is “The Honourable Society for the Arts, Science and Technology”, and one of its aims is to “promote education, science, technology and the arts”.

The funding enabled Rory to take part in a major international conference in Seattle, USA, which brings together the world’s leading researchers in this field.  

Rory Kokelaar of Swansea University Medical School, award winner, said:

“I am very grateful to the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales for supporting this research into colorectal cancer, the most common cancer in Wales. 

The award enabled me to share my research with other experts in the field.   International collaboration is crucial in tackling disease, which is why it is important to go and show other researchers what we are doing here in Swansea.   

My work here in Swansea is also a team effort.   Working with the different health professionals at the hospital enriches what I do at the University.  In turn, my research can also contribute to their work with patients.”   

Jenny Aubrey from the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales said:

“One of the Livery’s aims is to encourage and support students to progress with a specific project.  The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales raises the grant money through holding dinners, concerts and other charitable events.

Rory’s research is essential, and his enthusiasm for his subject is clear.  We are pleased to be able to support his attendance at this international scientific conference”.

Find out more about the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales

Swansea University Medical School