By School Community

31 January 2024 - 12:49

Eduardo Schell

Eduardo Schell is exalumni of the British School and an important part of the BIOOR project. He shared years at the school with Olivia Roddom and with a son who is a cancer survivor; he has become a person who lives and feels BIOOR as a courageous initiative. His words for the interview fill us with enthusiasm and encourage us to continue supporting and moving BIOOR:

How did the idea of collaborating with BIOOR come about?

BIOOR has been doing magnificent work for 20 years in favour of cancer research, which is the only way for all cancer patients to be cured. As an exalumni and father of a young cancer survivor, supporting BIOOR's mission comes naturally to me. In order to further boost the impact of the effort made by the BIOOR community, the AVCS-BCS partnership and the entire faculty of the British Council School, I had the privilege of presenting a potential partnership with the Advanced Childhood Cancer Therapy Unit at La Paz Hospital funded by CRIS Against Cancer and led by Dr Antonio Pérez Martínez, Head of the Paediatric Haemato-Oncology Service at the hospital. I know first-hand the enormous work that this research doctor does with his team, innovating, investing in precision medicine and offering alternatives to patients who have relapsed or exhausted conventional protocols. We are fortunate to have research doctors like him, who are an international reference, and creating this multiplying synergy by collaborating with funds is something decisive and will help to transform the lives of many patients.

What has been the impact of these projects on cancer research?

In Spain, more than 1,400 cases of paediatric cancer are diagnosed each year, a child dies every day in our country as a result of this cause, and despite all this, it is still considered a rare disease. It is true that 80% of patients survive, but 2 out of 10 do not, and this is something we cannot afford as a society. We need a lot of funds to boost research, to make progress, to cure more and better with fewer side effects, and we can only achieve this by supporting research. The impact of BIOOR is transcendental, in December I had the privilege of accompanying several BCS students to the laboratories of La Paz to get to know the reality of the research and part of the research team led by Dr. Antonio Pérez Martínez and the faces of the researchers when they saw the cheque for €40,000 donated was spectacular. They were genuinely moved, grateful, appreciative and motivated to keep working even harder. "We want you to feel proud of your help and to know how much it will help," they said emotionally. It was a very emotional moment that gives strength to continue fighting to change the reality of childhood cancer. That incredible amount donated, the result of the effort of a 2023 full of events, BIOOR Fair, solidarity actions, uniform sales, etc., allows a researcher to continue working for a whole year at 100%. And more research is more life.

Any project or event you would like to highlight?

At the Advanced Childhood Cancer Therapy Unit headed by Dr. Antonio Pérez Martínez, they go out of their way for all their patients, the most complicated cases arrive there, and I have seen how they have managed to get patients who were hopeless or who had exhausted traditional protocols. This multidisciplinary team made up of researchers, doctors, bioinformaticians, geneticists, testing technicians, nurses... are an international reference and we must support them.

In particular, I am very proud of the research line on Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukaemia, which diagnoses one in a million children and which, due to its low prevalence, is hardly investigated. This line, the Mateo Project, represents hope for many families, as the aim is to be able to develop our own treatment in the same hospital in the form of CAR-T, creating a targeted, effective, personalised and less toxic therapy. In addition, it is an approach that will have an impact on more types of cancer. The Mateo Project has been a reality for years thanks to the support of donors, friends, collaborators, charity races, charity parties, companies and the impetus given by BIOOR is decisive. We have to transmit to society in general that, with a little help from many, something very big can be achieved.

What does BIOOR mean to you?

For those of us British alumni who graduated from the mid-1990s onwards, BIOOR is something we carry inside us in memory of our classmate Olivia and her entire family. I have the greatest admiration for the families who lose a child and who carry on trying to change the harsh reality of childhood cancer by raising funds for research. In addition, Miss Trenchard suffered me as a teacher. BIOOR is born in memory of Olivia, but BIOOR is all of us, and that spirit of struggle, resilience, teamwork, effort, passion and dedication for the benefit of a common cause such as childhood cancer research is something that unites us all. And these values are something that must continue to be instilled in all students and families, so that every teacher, every student knows what BIOOR is, its origin, its legacy and the great impact it makes. It is something magical that cannot be lost, that must be promoted and encouraged. We need every person associated with the British Council School to feel proud and an active part of BIOOR. In short, BIOOR is a transformative tool that helps to save lives and the Annual Fair is an event that we should all mark in red in our calendar: a magical day of reunion with former colleagues and teachers in a spectacular atmosphere, enjoying ourselves to the maximum and with a magical energy.


Eduardo Schell & co