Dr Rob Orford OBE named new Chief Executive of Moondance Cancer Initiative

Wales’ most senior healthcare scientist has taken on a new role to help Wales become a world leader in cancer outcomes.

Dr Rob Orford, who has been Chief Scientific Adviser for Health for Wales since 2017, will become chief executive officer of Moondance Cancer Initiative in April 2024.  Currently a member of the National Diagnostics Group, UK Genomics Board and UK Life Science Vision Delivery Board, Dr Orford led the Welsh Government scientific and technical response to Covid-19.  He was recently recognised in the New Year Honours list 2024, receiving an OBE for services to health sciences and evidence in health policy.

Since 2020, Moondance Cancer Initiative has helped find, fund and fuel brilliant people and brave ideas to improve cancer outcomes in Wales. To date, the organisation has invested more than £5m and funded over 25 projects across the country. These initiatives include introducing capsule sponge tests in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Powys Teaching Health Board, supporting the expansion of the Rapid Diagnosis Centre in Swansea Bay, and introducing transnasal endoscopy at Cardiff and Vale and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Boards.

In 2023, the organisation published Towards Zero Deaths from Bowel Cancer in Wales, a landmark report which saw patients, clinicians and professionals come together to create a compelling case for change showing how the 2,300 people diagnosed with bowel cancer in Wales each year can have the best chance to survive and thrive.

Dr Orford said: “I’m hugely excited to be joining Moondance Cancer Initiative to lead the charge to make Wales a world leader in cancer survival.  My focus has always been using science, evidence, innovation, and research to improve health and help make a measurable change to people’s lives and this role is that mantra writ large.

“There’s work to do. The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce confirms that Wales is one of the worst countries for cancer survival. But my experiences leading the country’s scientific response to the pandemic showed the power of working collectively to help reduce harm using science and research. It’s this collaborative and evidence-informed approach I want to promulgate against the leading cause of death in Wales. We must work together to make measurable improvements in cancer outcomes and health inequalities across the country.”

Geoff Graham, Chair of Moondance Cancer Initiative, said: “Rob’s appointment is a real milestone for Moondance Cancer Initiative. Over the past four years, Moondance has truly established itself on Wales’ cancer landscape as a trusted partner committed to bringing knowledge, ideas and funding to improve cancer outcomes across the country.

“Rob’s wealth of experience, expertise and enthusiasm is a welcome addition to our talented and dedicated team, and together they will continue to fuel the brilliant people working in cancer services, ensuring their brave ideas are supported to help more people than ever before survive cancer in Wales.”

For more information, visit: https://moondance-cancer.wales/