Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Barry Laird

Senior Clinical Lecturer in Palliative Medicine

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Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Biography

I am an academic clinician specialising in palliative medicine. I am passionate about improving symptoms in people with life limiting illness. The main focus of my research is understanding how the tumour-host interaction in cancer is implicated in the genesis of symptoms.

I am part of the Edinburgh Palliative and Supportive Care Group (EPaS – Group Lead Professor Marie Fallon) at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine. Clinically, I hold consultant positions in Palliative Medicine at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre and St Columba’s Hospice.

My research in a nutshell

Symptoms are often seen as an inevitable consequence of cancer with pain, loss of weight, appetite and function (cachexia), and fatigue being particularly common. Rather than these symptoms being simply a direct result of the tumour or metastatic disease, the way that the cancer interacts with the host (person), influences this.

Termed the systemic inflammatory response, this normally acts in a protecting role to fight acute events such as infections or injury. In the cancer setting, where there is chronic inflammation, the inflammatory response acts to sustain tumour development and facilitate growth.

Our work has demonstrated that this inflammatory response influences survival and also quality of life in patients with advanced cancer. This understanding provides valuable insight into the genesis of cachexia, fatigue, pain and reduced physical function which in turn can inform potential novel therapeutic targets to address these.

The overarching aim is to improve the care of patients with cancer through improved prognostication, stratification and efficacy of therapies through an evidence based translational research program from basic science to clinical trials. We  have close collaborations with local clinicians, multidisciplinary academic research groups and industry partners.

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