photograph Science writing prize for cancer researcher

Nicola Harris, a research PhD student in the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, has won the Medical Research Council's Max Perutz science writing prize, 2010.

Nicola wrote about her research into tumour cells from two childhood cancers, neuroblastoma and Ewing's sarcoma, and explained, "I actually found out about the competition from the postgraduate office last year.  I have always enjoyed trying to explain my research to a lay audience - friends, family, the public at events such as Race for Life - so I decided to enter."

Last year, Nicola was shortlisted and won a "highly commended" runner-up prize.  All shortlisted entrants were able to take part in a science writing mastercalss and Nicola jumped at the chance.

She entered the competition again this year and put into practice all that she had learned on the masterclass.  "Winning the competition was incredible", said Nicola.  

"It's really exciting to have an article published in the Guardian - and the £1,000 prize money was also a huge bonus, especially as I'm getting married in six weeks, having become engaged at last year's award ceremony.

"I also think that it is important for scientists to be encouraged to describe their work in a more accessible way in order to engage more people with out research - especially in areas such as cancer research where a considerable amoount of work is funded through charitable donations."

Nicola's essay can be read on the Guardian website.

Further information on the Max Perutz award may be found on the MRC website.

* Neil Rajan, Institute of Human Genetics at Newcastle University, was highly commended for his essay, "Surgery-sparing science: moving away from the cutting edge" at the same event, hosted by the Medical Research Council.

published on: 9th September 2010