Interview with Dr Elizabeth Corley, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust Paediatric ECMC

18 Sep 2023
Photo of Dr Elizabeth CorleyWhat is your role and which ECMC do you work at?
I currently work at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust (London – RMH / ICR Paediatric ECMC) as a paediatric oncologist with a special interest in sarcomas and drug development.
Why did you want to focus on paediatric oncology?
I fell in love with the speciality early on in my paediatric training. In my initial oncology rotation, rather than the sadness that I was expecting, I was blown away by the stoicism of the patients and their families, and the positivity with which they faced this disease. I love building relationships with patients and their families across their treatment journeys and feel privileged to be a part of the large multi-disciplinary team that supports them during what is often a very challenging time. The medicine is truly fascinating, and the progress that the speciality has seen over the past few decades is incredible. Particularly exciting is the continued progress in our understanding of the drivers of the different tumour types, which we can then to adapt our treatment strategies and improve patient outcomes. The era of precision oncology is a really exciting time to be a paediatric oncologist.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month - what do you see as the biggest opportunity and biggest challenge in your role and in paediatric oncology?
The recent renewal of the ECMC network grant provides us with the opportunity to continue to expand our clinical trial portfolio, provide ongoing access to novel agents to our patients and to continue the development of predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarkers. The grant will also allow us to further our knowledge of functional imaging within early phase trials and to continue to improve and expand our tissue studies.
In paediatric oncology, I think the biggest challenge remains, as it has done for many years, in both accessing existing medications (which remain unlicensed in children) and in developing new medications through robust, international trials for our rare patient population. Whilst much work has been done by the FAIR (Fostering Age Inclusive Research) working group within ACCELERATE for the teenage and young adult (TYA) population, there is still a long way to go in getting this patient group recognised and included within adult clinical trials, which will be achieved by lowering the inclusion age. I have recently joined the FAIR working group and am very much looking forward to working with the team on this particular challenge.
As a recent new member of the ECMC JING steering committee what are you hoping to achieve with the group?
Having previously completed the ‘JING – Training the Next Generation’ event, I am very pleased to now be a member of the steering committee and involved in planning the next event, which aims to provide other junior investigators with the opportunity to network with their peers and senior investigators and learn how to develop their study ideas. I look forward to exploring how we can continue to support the trainees both before and after the meeting with a new extended education program. I am also very much looking forward to working on, and developing, the new JING alumni program. 
Finally, what are you most proud of about your work in paediatric oncology?
I am very proud of the work that we do at The Royal Marsden and within the Oak Paediatric and Adolescent Drug Development Unit, which is supported by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. We enable children and young people to access high-quality, early phase clinical trials of novel therapies, as well as our managed access program in conjunction with the pharmaceutical companies, both providing alternate options when standard of care treatment has been exhausted or a relevant trial does not exist. I am particularly proud that at The Royal Marsden we treat patients across the full paediatric and TYA spectrum (1 – 25 years) in our unit.
Dr Corley has been supported by funding from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and the National Institute of Health and Care Research.