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The Nuffield Department of Medicine and the University of Navarra have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration on research and to apply new immunotherapy techniques to cancer patients.

The agreement aims to enhance scientific outcomes in both institutions, sharing strategic initiatives and supporting clinical trials in the centres. Another objective is to promote undergraduate and postgraduate medical teaching at both universities. This MoU will enable both centres to exchange staff and students, explore new job opportunities in research programmes, and share materials and publications.

Dr Ignacio Melero from the University of Navarra has been appointed as Kidani Chair of Oncology. He will be affiliated with St Cross College and conduct his research activity at the NDM Centre of Immuno-oncology.

Prof Melero commented on the amalgamation of the University of Oxford’s technological capacity and multidisciplinary power with the University of Navarra’s expertise in areas of Cancer immunology and immunotherapy. "The idea is that there is a synergistic mutual benefit between both institutions. There is no doubt that Oxford has one of the best staff of researchers in immunology in Europe, focused on the study of autoimmunity, the development of vaccines and tissue analysis in immune system disease. At the University of Navarra, since the beginning of the twenty-first century, we have developed a very important activity both in basic research and in immunotherapy clinical trials".

"It is possible to combine several therapies and improve patients’ health significantly. From the point of view of the preclinical development of these treatments and clinical trials, both the University of Navarra and NDM have played a significant role, especially in the early advancement of combinations of several immunotherapy agents," he added.

Richard Cornall, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Head of Department of the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford said, "The work developed by the University of Navarra in cancer research during the last ten years, in immuno-oncology and particularly in clinical trials, has made it a model in Europe and a centre of excellence".

Prof Cornall shared that one of the main challenges of this agreement is to coordinate the work of researchers and promote the relationship with patients, to support them and see how they can contribute to research. "Approximately one in two of us will have cancer in our lifetime. Today we have a great opportunity to advance research in immuno-oncology. As we understand the immune system more, how our body fights infections, and how we respond to vaccines, we can develop new methods to address treatments for cancer and other diseases. I believe that if we combine the strengths of both universities and take risks, we can make a difference and possibly cure many more cancer patients in the United States in the next 20 years," he concluded.

The Vice-Chancellor for Research and Sustainability of the University of Navarra, Paloma Grau, appreciated the University of Oxford for its collaboration with the University of Navarra and recalled that research in the field of oncology is part of one of the priorities of the University's 2025 Strategy: "One of the objectives of the University of Navarra is to generate synergies and promote collaboration between institutions to put science at the forefront service of society, in this case, at the service of cancer patients"