Jon Lord, founder member and keyboard player of pioneering UK rock band Deep Purple, was a remarkable man with an extraordinary talent. The music world is lesser for his sad passing in July 2012 following his year-long journey with pancreatic cancer.  Aside from his incomparable musical talent, Jon was also a passionate advocate of integrative approaches to healthcare.  It’s only fitting that his legacy would include a research post to investigate the integrative management of pancreatic cancer.  Having worked closely with Jon’s family and the Sunflower Jam charity, sponsor of the fellowship, we are delighted to announce that the Jon Lord Fellowship for the Integrative Management of Pancreatic Cancer will kick off next month in April 2015. Peyda Korhan PhD has been appointed as the research fellow for this inaugural project, offered through Imperial College, London under the esteemed auspices of Professor of Cancer Biology, Mustafa Djamgoz’s team and co-supervised by ANH-Intl's Robert Verkerk PhD.


Jon Lord — a giant of a man

Jon Lord was born in Leicester, England in 1941. He was best known for his unique keyboard playing and his diverse composing skills that spanned numerous genres from rock to classical.  The band Deep Purple became a household name in the 1970s and went on to sell more than 100 million albums, and played live to more than 10 million people.  In 2002, Jon left the band to focus on his solo career which gave him the opportunity to further develop his creative potential.  Since Jon also believed passionately in the power of natural health and integrated approaches to health management and disease prevention, he became involved in 2006 with the fundraising work of the Sunflower Jam.  The Sunflower Jam is a charity set up by his sister-in-law, Jacky Paice, — the wife of Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice — to work towards providing access for all to complementary and integrated treatments in the fight against cancer and other diseases by funding and supporting research, treatment and education.

On announcing the launch of the Jon Lord Fellowship, Jacky said, “It's only fitting that the inaugural fellowship in Jon's name should be dedicated to learning more about the cancer that took his life.  It's equally fitting that the research be done at Imperial College, just a stone's throw from the Albert Hall that remained dear to Jon's heart since Deep Purple's historic Concerto for Group and Orchestra in 1969 with the Royal Philharmonic.  We're also thrilled that the project will be guided by Prof Djamgoz and Dr Rob Verkerk, both of whom we know are deeply committed to finding new insights to both the treatment and prevention of cancer using an integrated approach.”

Pancreatic cancer

Most pancreatic cancers arise in the part of the pancreas known as the exocrine component, where digestive enzymes are produced, and the most common of these is adenocarcinoma.  The cancer becomes more common over 65 years of age and above, and risk factors related to diet and lifestyle have been identified  Sadly, cancer of the pancreas is among those types with the lowest survival rates.  Cancer Research UK’s pessimistic figures report that only “22% of men survive pancreatic cancer for at least one year, and this is predicted to fall to 4% surviving for five years or more”.

About the Jon Lord Fellowship

The fellowship has been structured to include a high-quality evidence-based review of existing research on the integrated management of pancreatic cancer, conducted by postdoctoral researcher Dr Peyda Korhan.  Dr Korhan gained a BSc in Biology with honours, and then went on to achieve her Masters and PhD.  She has worked for several years within the molecular biology and liver cancer fields, but also has valuable experience with RNA, DNA analysis, protein dynamics, and analysis of clinical data.

The critical evaluation will include literature on predisposing genetic and environmental factors too.

Additional important pilot research will include collating clinical and epigenetic data from cases where remission has taken place. These data will be compared with cases will those where no remission has been noted and where it appears unlikely that the patient will survive beyond five years, as well as against healthy populations. The data obtained from these three groups will include results of genetic sequence tests (single nucleotide polymorphisms). Particular genetic sequences of this type are associated with increased risk of cancer, but are known to be responsive to dietary and lifestyle factors.

Co-supervisor, Robert Verkerk PhD says, “Peyda has her work cut out.  We're excited that the research combines a review of all relevant published science on the integrated management and prevention of pancreatic cancer, but also a clinical pilot study that includes evaluating aspects of potential epigenetic susceptibility or resilience.  We're all going into this eyes wide open - and all we can say at this point is that in a year's time we'll be wiser about this complex and difficult to treat cancer than we are now.”

The end goal is to create a review paper that amasses all the available knowledge on integrated approach to the management of pancreatic cancer, and to gain more understanding of how genetics, diet and lifestyle might play a part in either preventing pancreatic cancer or improving survival rates.

Jon’s wife Vicky and the Lord and Paice families hope that, “Through the fellowship, we are hopeful that scientific evidence supporting a new paradigm of integrated health care for people will emerge, especially for those with pancreatic cancer.  This would be a huge step towards achieving what Jon truly wanted.”

How you can help

You can get involved with the Sunflower Jam’s work via internships, activity challenges or fundraising.  Or you can even attend the live annual “Superjam” fundraising event.


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