MRC Unit The Gambia receives Cancer Award on World Cancer Day

10 February 2016
Under the theme, I Can, You Can, Gambia Can, MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG) was presented with a Cancer Award for its immense contribution in the fight against cancer during the Cancer Walk on World Cancer Day 4 February 2016.

Team from MRC Unit The Gambia led by Director Professor Umberto D’Alessandro and Sally Louis Smith, MRC, HR Director.

The team from MRC Unit The Gambia led by Director Professor Umberto D’Alessandro and Sally Louis Smith, MRC, HR Director

During the Cancer walk organised by the office of the First Lady, The First Lady, Madam Zineb Jammeh, presented the award to MRCG Director, Professor Umberto D’Alessandro, in recognition of our role in cancer prevention.

Other recipients include SOS Children’s Village, Foundation for Research on Women’s Health, Productivity, and the Environment, as well as WHO and UNICEF. Guests at the award ceremony included Her Excellency the Vice President Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, Partners and Dignitaries.

Director Professor Umberto D’Alessandro,  Sally Louis Smith and UK HR Team

Director Professor Umberto D’Alessandro, Sally Louis Smith, HR Director and HR Team from MRC UK

To commemorate World Cancer day, over Five thousand people were in attendance for the Cancer Walk, including a team from MRC Unit The Gambia led by Director Professor Umberto D’Alessandro and Sally Louis Smith, Medical Reseach Council, Human Resource Director. Also in attendance were school children, musical groups, government and non-governmental organisations. The Cancer Walk commenced at the National Assembly Building to the July 22nd Square in Banjul.

Dating back from 1986, the Gambia Hepatitis Intervention Study (GHIS), funded by WHO- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in collaboration with MRCG and the Gambia Government, has been a long-standing collaborative study spanning nearly 30 years. The main aim of the study was to determine whether vaccination of new-borns against hepatitis B virus (HBV) the main cause of liver cancer in The Gambia, can prevent HBV infection, the development of chronic liver disease and liver cancer later in life.

With the projection that liver cancer cases will increase over the next 5 to 6 decades in countries with high rates of HBV infection, MRCG, in collaboration with Imperial College London, designed a study aimed at preventing liver cirrhosis and cancer by treatment (as opposed to vaccination) of those who are already infected with HBV, called the Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa (PROLIFICA) project.

The multicentre PROLIFICA project which involves The Gambia, Nigeria, and Senegal, with partners in Imperial College London and WHO-IARC, is the first HBV treatment programme in Sub-Saharan Africa. One of its main aims is to determine whether the treatment of HBV with a drug called tenofovir, can prevent the development of liver cancer in those who are infected.

Both the GHIS and the PROLIFICA project are based at the MRC Unit in The Gambia. The GHIS also supports The Gambia National Cancer Registry, which was established in 1986.
Read more about MRC Unit The Gambia’s contribution in Cancer research on