“I don’t know if Naaz would be happy that she has a fellowship named after her – she would definitely be surprised!" said Farid. "My sister was a very caring person, generous with her talents and time. I’ve always been a committed businessman, so she would be delighted that she influenced me to help others.”
In late 2015, Farid’s sister, Naaz Coker, died from ovarian cancer. Frustrated by the treatment she received, Farid has joined forces with the University to create the Naaz Coker Fellowship, supporting critical research into ovarian cancer led by expert researcher and clinician, Dr Srinivasan Madhusadan.
I wish I had met Dr Madhusadan earlier, while Naaz was still alive. Cancer is something you don’t think about until it really hits home and by then, it’s too late
“What struck me about Naaz’s experience is that treatment protocols seemed limited, dated and minimal – they are not even standardised” said Farid.
“It was a shock. I had assumed that state-of-the-art research was happening by someone, somewhere, but then we struggled to find the help Naaz needed. 11 women in the UK die from ovarian cancer every day, thousands more around the world, yet even diagnosis often takes months. I felt angry – why wasn’t something being done about this.”
“I owe so much to my sister – she was the one who helped and encouraged me to move to the UK from Tanzania when I was just a young man to pursue an education that would change my life. On a return visit to Nottingham I met Dr Madhusadan, who is working on developing personalised treatments for ovarian cancer using DNA targeting. This involves using weaknesses within the cancer cell DNA repair mechanisms to target and kill the cancer cells without destroying the surrounding healthy tissue, by developing drugs specifically focused on ovarian cancer. I knew that this was the type of work I had been looking for and could see how my support would help Dr Madhusadan to progress his research faster. The fact that it is happening at my former University is nice but it is research quality that matters most to me – it’s a double win that Nottingham is the place where this type of forward-thinking research is happening”.
“My hope now is that people will join me in making this fellowship into something much bigger – the type of large-scale research programme ovarian cancer urgently needs. Long-term survival rates are just too low – only 35% of patients live for more than 10 years post diagnosis. For women over 60, the survival rates are even lower and that is not acceptable.”
“I’d say to anyone reading this – if you have a mother, sister, daughter or female friend – one day, this research could help the women you love. Innovative ovarian cancer research is desperately needed and it’s happening here in Nottingham. If you can join me by making a gift, then please do. This fellowship is too late for Naaz but it will help others, and that’s something she would be proud of.”