World-leading immunologist, Professor Freda Stevenson from the Centre of Cancer Immunology, has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Society of Haematology.

Centre for Cancer Immunology
Freda Stevenson

Professor Stevenson has been at the forefront of cancer immunology research for over 40 years, where she has led, shaped and continues to pioneer groundbreaking research in understanding how to engage the immune system to fight lymphoma.  She has also used immunogenetics to increase our understanding of how lymphomas develop.

The award honours those whose working life has significantly contributed to the advancement of Haematology.

Professor Stevenson said: “I am delighted to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Society of Haematology. Basic science research will always be integral to the progress we see in patient clinics. I am proud to have played a role in the development of this important field of research and look forward to the discoveries that await us in the future.”

Professor Stevenson’s main research area is in the immunobiology of B-cell associated diseases, with a particular focus on the immunoglobulin (Ig) molecule. She designed genetic fusion vaccines first to target Ig and then to attack other defined tumour antigens. These are in current trials for a range of tumours. While initially used to treat lymphoma, this strategy is now being tested by Professor Christian Ottensmeier and Dr Natalia Savelyeva in head and neck cancer. Her immunogenetic expertise then facilitated the study of the pattern of Ig genes in B-cell tumours, providing insight into the pathogenesis and progression of lymphomas and leukaemia. Her 1999 paper in the journal Blood, which has been cited more than 2500 times, described how the Ig gene status in cases of CLL acts as a major prognostic factor. Since then, Professor Stevenson has published widely on B-cell receptor signalling in CLL, revealing pathways which are now targets for new drugs.

Over the years Professor Stevenson’s dedication to cancer research has been recognised. In 2014, she won the European Haematology Association Jean Bernard Life Time Achievement Award for contributions to the advancement of haematology. In 2015, she was awarded the Rai-Binet medal by the International Workshop on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia and in 2018, Professor Stevenson was awarded the Henry M Stratton Medal by The American Society of Hematology for her pioneering work on the biology of B-cell malignancies.

Read a Q&A with Professor Stevenson here.