The Cancer Drug Development Forum – CDDF is the platform for all stakeholders involved in the development of cancer drugs.

CDDF Live Webinar: COVID-19 and Cancer – Time for a Reset to repair the damage done

The Cancer Drug Development Forum (CDDF) held a live webinar on “COVID-19 and Cancer – Time for a Reset to repair the damage done  on Monday 15 January 2024 at 17:00 (CET) / 11:00 (EST).


The COVID-19 Pandemic and national lockdowns have had a significant impact on cancer services and cancer patients, which many think may take a decade to resolve. At a European level, as many as one hundred million screening tests may not have been performed and over a million cancer diagnoses may have been missed during the peak of the pandemic.

In this webinar, we explored in detail the different impacts that the pandemic has had on cancer research and cancer care across Europe, from both a health professional and a patient perspective. We also highlighted the absolute primacy of data, both in capturing in detail the extent of the disruption, but also in providing the intelligence to help address and mitigate the challenges going forward. Consideration of how we can make cancer health systems more resilient and agile will also be discussed and debated so that the lessons we learned from COVID will inform a better, more data-driven and patient-centred cancer control plan going forward.

Agenda: (CET time zone)

17:00 – 17:05     Introduction – Mark Lawler (Queen’s University Belfast; CDDF Board Member, UK)

17:05 – 17:20     Presentation – Ajay Aggarwal (The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK)

17:20 – 17:35     Presentation – Debbie Keatley (Cancer Research UK)

17:35 – 18:00     Discussion – moderated by Mark Lawler (Queen’s University Belfast; CDDF Board Member, UK) and Ruth Plummer (Newcastle University; CDDF Board Member, UK)

Ajay Aggarwal

Dr Ajay Aggarwal is a Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Trust, London and Associate Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). His main research areas are Cancer services and systems research and Global Health.
He is the Clinical Director for the ten national cancer audits in England and Wales (NATCAN) and is a member of the Executive Committee for the European Cancer Organisation. He has been the recipient of two fellowship awards from the National Institute for Health Research in 2014 and 2020 and is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Cancer Policy.
His research has contributed significantly to national and international policy discussion around the affordability of cancer care and the value of new technologies in cancer medicine which has influenced directly the WHO Cancer Drug Pricing and Benefits Taskforces. As co-chair of the Health Economics in Radiation Oncology (HERO) group within ESTRO (European Society for Radiation Oncology), he is leading the value-based health care initiative. He has previously worked at the World Health Organisation in Geneva and is the Chief Investigator of the NIH funded ARCHERY study, the first prospective international multicentre trial across India, Jordan, Malaysia and South Africa evaluating the role of AI in radiotherapy.

Debbie Keatley

Debbie is a cancer survivor who believes in the patient’s right to be an equal partner in treatment and care decisions and in the meaningful involvement of the public and patients in research.
Impatient for data resources held to be used to benefit patients, she has ambition or people to be able to access and understand their own health records and to make informed choices about how their data is used in research, with confidence that regulatory institutions will respect and uphold those decisions.
Involved with many organisations who recognise data’s importance in research to improve outcomes for patients, including use MY data, CRUK’s Data Advisory Board and Clinical Research Committee, Office of National Data Guardian, Northern Ireland Cancer Registry and HDRUK, she is also actively involved in steering groups of clinical and populations studies across Northern Ireland, the UK and Europe and in the work of Ireland’s All-Island Cancer Research Institute.
During 2020 she took part in CRUK’s rapid review of the studies in its clinical research portfolio to assess the initial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and was also a member of the UKRI/NIHR Covid-19 Rolling Call College of Experts

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