60 second interview with NCRI’s new Cancer Liaison Manager
Rupesh Robinson-Vyas recently joined NCRI as our new Public Health England (PHE)/NCRI Cancer Liaison Manager. Working between teams at the National Cancer Registration and Analytics Service (NCRAS) and the cancer research community, he’s hoping to encourage greater access to routinely collected NHS data. Here, he tells us a little bit more about what his new role involves, what he’s looking forward to and how you could help.
What will you be doing as PHE/NCRI Cancer Liaison Manager?
NCRAS routinely collects and analyses data on every cancer patient across England. My job will be to tap into NCRI’s vast cancer research network to understand how patient data is being collected and used to enable their lifesaving research. Then, working with colleagues in NCRAS, we hope to come up with creative, sustainable and less burdensome methods of supplying their routinely collected, population-wide data to fuel the next generation of cancer discoveries.
We’ve already had some early suggestions on how to use the data held by NCRAS. For example, it could be useful for long-term follow up of clinical trial patients, for conducting large observational cohort studies or investigating feasibility for studies with more complex inclusion criteria.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge?
There are plenty of challenges ahead but the biggest will be finding consistent, sustainable and wherever possible, repeatable solutions. We need to develop processes that allow us to meet the specific needs of a study without having to start from scratch each time. This means doing a lot more work and thorough scoping at the start so progress will feel painstakingly slow in the beginning. However, once we crack it, we’ll have something that continues to work long into the future.
What did you used to do before joining NCRI?
I worked on the Citizen Science Programme. Working within a tight-knit, multidisciplinary team I developed digital platforms and trained members of the public to conduct image analysis for biomedical research. With the help of the general public, we worked to tackle data backlogs and get researchers the information they needed. It was a fantastically innovative way of tackling researchers’ needs while also getting the public more informed and actively involved with research.
You mentioned public involvement in your previous role. How important is patient and public involvement in what you’ll be doing now?
It’s crucial. Data protection and confidentiality are of the utmost importance and past events have shown how important it is that people are fully informed of how patient data is being used, the safeguards being put in place to protect them and the benefits of sharing this information for research and in guiding improvements to health and health care.
What are you looking forward to in your new role?
I’m looking forward to speaking to the broad range of people that feed their expertise into both NCRI and NCRAS. My previous role required me to speak to experts across the fields of pathology, electron microscopy and games development. I really enjoyed pulling ideas together from people with such varied backgrounds. I am keen to be contacted by anyone who might have an idea or interest in working with the data held by NCRAS or just in finding out more.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Despite only having a small, north facing balcony four stories up, I’m an avid gardener (or blaconyer?) with mixed success. I’m also dangerously addicted to far too spicy food and 1940-50’s film noir movies.
Get in touch
If you are interested in working with the data held by NCRAS or want to find out more, you can get in touch with Rupesh by clicking the link below