Angela Lamarca

Angela Lamarca
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a Medical Oncologist (MD, PhD, MSc), specialised in gastrointestinal malignancies (hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) and neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)); with special interest in biliary tract cancers.
I completed my training in Medical Oncology (including my PhD) in Spain (Hospital Universitario La Paz, Madrid). I moved to The Christie NHS Foundation Trust (Manchester, United Kingdom) in 2013, where I completed a 4-year fellowship programme in HPB and NETs. I have also completed a Masters Degree in Molecular Biology of Cancer and a second Masters Degree in Biostatistics.
I was awarded with an American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Conquer Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award in 2017 and I was appointed as a Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in May 2018 where I continues to develop my career as a clinical and translational researcher with special interest in biliary tract tumour (including cholangiocarcinoma). I am currently a member of the EORTC Gastrointestinal Cancer Group, ENETS Advisory board and a faculty member of the ESMO Non-Colorectal Gastrointestinal Cancer group.
Can you share one or two of your specific research interests?
I believe that there are many areas of unmet need in the current management of biliary tract cancers, including cholangiocarcinoma. There is an urgent need of increasing rate of cure after curative surgery and we are in need of more effective adjuvant treatments and also development of biomarkers that could predict higher risk of relapse and tailoring of adjuvant strategies. In addition, in order to improve outcomes in the setting of advanced disease, two aspects are to be improved. First, we require, biomarkers for prediction of response to current chemotherapy options for tailoring approach in the scenario of cytotoxic chemotherapy. Second, development of new targeted therapies and a better understanding of resistance mechanisms to current therapies is needed.
Why did you decide to specialize in hepatobiliary cancers?
I decided to specialise on biliary tract cancers because it is an area of urgent unmet need. Unfortunately, these cancers are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and they imply poor prognosis, with devastating implications for our patients and their loved ones. The only way of improving outcomes is through research and an in depth understanding of the disease.
Can you describe one of the unforgettable moments in your patients care or research that has impacted your career?
I have had many moments that have reassured me of my career choice and that made me feel appreciated by my patients and their families. I share both happy and sad news with my patients and their loved ones like if I was part of the "family" and this makes my work very special. A smile or a "thank you" after a difficult discussion means the world to me and provides the best motivation to continue our search for better treatment options.
Can you tell us one thing collaboration with colleagues could accomplish that you could not accomplish on your own?
Collaboration with colleagues is key in rare tumours like biliary tract tumours. I don't think there is anything that could be achieved by us individually and I strongly believe that collaboration between all health care providers and patients is the only way forward.
How did you learn about the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation?
My first interaction with the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation was in 2017 when I attended the annual meeting. To me, this was a very special experience from which I would like to highlight the direct contact between patients and healthcare providers, which I believe makes this organisation (and this meeting) very special.
Can you tell us why you became a member of the ICRN?
ICRN represents one of the most relevant networks worldwide working towards better treatment options for patients with cholangiocarcinoma and is an honour to be a member of this initiative.
If you are one of our Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation Fellowship awardees, how has this Fellowship impacted your career?
I was awarded with the Elizabeth Dardenne Stefanini Memorial Research Fellowship on 2017. This fellowship allow for me to develop my own research project focused on better understanding biomarkers associated with worse/better outcomes from platinum-based chemotherapy in biliary tract tumours. this was one of my first steps into an independent research and I will always be grateful to the Cholangiocarcinoa Foundation for this career-changing opportunity.