Scientific Lecture | Kevin Harrington

Professor Harrington studied Medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and began focusing on head and neck cancer as a PhD student at Hammersmith Hospital. He completed his postdoctoral research in molecular medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota.

Besides being an expert in the use of radiotherapy and chemoradiotherapy, he is a specialist on drug treatment of relapsed and metastatic head and neck cancer. He is a Professor in Biological Cancer Therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), where he is also the Targeted Therapy Team Leader in the Division of Cancer Biology. He has two main areas of research interest: oncolytic virotherapy (which comprises the use of genetically modified viruses as selective cancer therapeutic) and the development of new drugs that improve the activity of radiation against cancer cells. Professor Harrington was appointed as Joint Head of the ICR’s Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging in 2013.

He is also a Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation. Much of Professor Harrington’s laboratory work is immediately translated into clinical trials at The Royal Marsden, most often in patients with head and neck cancers and melanomas.


Physicians in the 1800s noticed that their cancer patients sometimes unexpectedly went into remission after experiencing a viral infection. These evidences triggered the interest of many scientists in studying the relation between viruses and cancer and its applicability as a target therapy. Professor Harrington focuses on developing new treatments using a range of viruses (such as reovirus, herpes simplex virus, vaccinia virus, coxsackie A21 virus) that were selectively grown and destroy cancer cells. He hopes new treatments using these viruses will improve patients’ cure rates and will have fewer side-effects than current therapies. The virus therapy is often given in combination with other anticancer treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Interestingly, the other purpose of his research is to demonstrate that some viruses can make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation, while the radiation may also boost the effect of some viruses on cancer cells.

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A Joana Simões é estudante do 4º ano de Medicina da FCM-UNL. Nasceu em Aveiro, uma grandiosa cidade conhecida por ser a “Veneza Portuguesa” e tão afamada pelos seus deliciosos ovos moles. Já Sever do Vouga é a região que a viu crescer, local onde estudou e motivo de tamanha paixão pela Natureza. A licenciatura e mestrado na área de Ciências Biomédicas despoletaram o seu gosto pela investigação que complementa a vocação que tem pela Medicina. É colaboradora da FRONTAL desde Março de 2016.


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