Early Detection Leader honoured

Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald has received the Don Listwin Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Early Detection.



The Don Listwin Award honours the work she has done to develop, establish and grow the research needed to detect cancer early. On receiving the award, Rebecca has paid credit to her team:


“I am so honoured to be chosen for the 2021 Don Listwin Award and would like to thank all my fabulous team members who have believed in the early detection concept. We have still got a long way to go – but together we will make late diagnosis of cancer a thing of the past.”

Rebecca Fitzgerald MD FMedSci, is internationally recognised for her exceptional research into the prevention and detection of oesophageal cancers.


Rebecca is known for the development of the Cytosponge technology, a sponge on a string that patients can swallow instead of undergoing an endoscopy.


The Cytosponge collects cells from the oesophagus for use in a test which can flag the presence of TFF3-positive cells indicative of Barrett’s oesophagus, a precursor to oesophageal cancer.


Rebecca and her team have recently published work demonstrating that Cytosponge increases the identification of Barrett’s in individuals with frequent heart-burn symptoms by 10-fold compared to standard of care.


The building of evidence for its clinical implementation for surveillance of high-risk individuals and in endoscopy sparing due to COVID-19 related pressures on health systems, continues to make a vital impact to patients’ lives.


Professor Fitzgerald leads a multidisciplinary team of scientists for the CRUK Cambridge Centre Early Detection Programme and the Cancer Research UK Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED). She is based at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cancer Unit, where she is currently the Interim Director.


Detecting cancer earlier will be a key focus of the Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital. The hospital will combine modern NHS clinical space with two new research institutes, including the National Institute for the Early Detection of Cancer, which will lead the way in helping advance early cancer detection techniques.


The Don Listwin Award recognises a sustained contribution to, or singular achievement in, the cancer early detection field. The award, established in 2019, is named in honour of Don Listwin, founder and chairman of The Canary Foundation.