International Day of Women & Girls in Science: Dr Agz Lemanska

Today (Friday, the 11th of February) is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day to recognise the critical role that women and girls play in science and technology. Today we recognise the work of Agnieszka (Agz) Lemanska from the University of Surrey.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Dr Agz Lemanska

Dr Agz Lemanska has a professional background in pharmacy, having completed her MSc in Pharmacy in 2005. She then completed a PhD in Statistics and Machine Learning at the Centre for Chemometrics at the University of Bristol, for which she was awarded a scholarship. She now works as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and is involved in teaching and research activities within the school.

Her areas of specialism include routine collection of healthcare data, cancer survivorship, patient reported outcomes, long-term conditions and multimorbidity. By combining her skills as a pharmacist and statistician, she delivers research projects with the vision of improving the long-term health of the population.

PCA have been funding and supporting vital research for which Agz is the Principal Investigator, since early 2020. This is in conjunction with the University of Surrey, University of Southampton, University of Oxford, Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, and Policy Connect UK.

This current research is exploring weight changes and glycaemic control five-years prior to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Glycaemic control is the medical term used to describe sugar levels in someone with diabetes. 590 primary-care practices within the Oxford-Royal College of General Practitioners Network provided the patient data for the research. 8,815 patients who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer between Jan 2007 and Aug 2020 were compared with 34,488 healthy people; comparisons on age, gender, diabetes status and duration were formed. Findings are still to be concluded.

By quantifying weight change and glycaemic levels and establishing when they occur, these changes could be used as a biomarker for pancreatic cancer. A biomarker is a form of naturally occurring characteristic (e.g., a gene or molecule) which predicts the future occurrence of a disease. By understanding the risk that these changes present, symptoms of pancreatic cancer could be caught earlier, aiding an earlier diagnosis.

There is currently no screening test available for pancreatic cancer. However, this research is a crucial step towards developing one in the future. The aim of this research is to develop a procedure where possible risk factors will be detected via blood tests. GPs will be trained to identify such risk factors and summon the patients for further testing in attempt to catch pancreatic cancer earlier. The only potential cure for pancreatic cancer is surgery, which is only eligible to those whose cancer is caught at an early stage.

This type of research is pertinent to aiding earlier diagnosis and therefore saving lives. By understanding more about biomarkers, we can begin to develop a screening test, we can aid earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and treat it before it is too late.

To understand more about the incredible work that Agz and the team do, please click here.