Prof Terry Dwyer: advancing solutions to health dilemmas

Professor Terry Dwyer is Executive Director, The George lnstitute, UK and James Martin Fellow at the University of Oxford.

What is the focus on The George Institute, UK? 

Here in Oxford we’re focused on obtaining important evidence for preventing and treating chronic diseases as well as how to best implement available evidence in lower-middle income countries. This work includes large international studies looking at data from birth to old age, and just this past year we have expanded the Institute’s research program to include a children’s research program, particularly focusing on childhood cancer. 

What are some examples? 

We have a major global birth cohort consortium that is looking for links between exposures in pregnancy and childhood cancer. By pooling data on one million mothers and babies, we hope to see connections that haven’t been evident before and find a way to prevent cancer in kids. We’re also using large international data to investigate causes of adult cardiovascular disease, as well as looking at implementing cost-effective ways to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes for at-risk adults in resource-limited countries like India. 

What are some of the biggest health challenges we are facing? 

For adults, a major challenge is finding the best way to make sure all those who can benefit from being less at risk of common diseases have access to the knowledge we already have about this. This is particularly true for low- and middle-income countries. For children, there is still much to learn about preventing the diseases they suffer from. 

I see the biggest strength of The George as… 

Its ability to conduct large-scale epidemiological studies involving many countries across the globe. These studies have produced compelling evidence for preventing and improving outcomes from major diseases. There are relatively few health research organisations that have such high calibre researchers working alongside practically-oriented healthcare experts to target the burden of chronic disease. 

What motivated you to join The George? 

I’ve long been involved in attempting to improve health in low-middle and high-income countries by applying the results of medical research, and I see The George as the optimal place to do this. The opportunity to draw upon top notch UK researchers at Oxford as well as the work of colleagues in Australia, India and China means we can really advance solutions to key health dilemmas like childhood cancer as we obtain good evidence. And a year on since joining, I can’t think of a better place to do the things that I am most motivated to do scientifically.


First published in The George Institute for Global Health 2014-15 Annual Report