The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is saddened by the passing of Dr Petcharin Srivatanakul, a long-standing collaborator of the Agency, who died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma on 4 August 2020.
Dr Petcharin earned a Ph.D. degree in Microbiology from Mahidol University, Thailand, in 1974. She started work at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Thailand in 1976 and played a central role in many of the NCI’s activities, becoming Head of the Research Division and rising to become Deputy Director (Research) before she retired in 2004.
Dr Petcharin’s association with IARC began in 1984, when the NCI hosted one of IARC’s Cancer Epidemiology courses, under the leadership of Dr Walter Davis. Thereafter, Dr Petcharin led the research team at the NCI in several collaborative projects with IARC staff. She was active in promoting the development of population-based cancer registration in Thailand, forming a consortium of the five existing registries in 1991, which resulted in the publication of the first volume of Cancer in Thailand as IARC Technical Report No. 16 in 1993. She also assisted with the organization of the IARC course on Detection of Health Hazards in Chemical Mutagens and Carcinogens, held in 1993.
Dr Petcharin collaborated with IARC scientists, as well as other international researchers, in several other epidemiological, screening, and laboratory studies, particularly on the molecular genetics of liver cancer and the role of the liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini and its mechanisms of carcinogenicity, as well as in studies on lung cancer and nasopharyngeal cancer. She identified the principal Thai collaborators of the IARC studies on cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV) and led the pilot introduction of cervical cancer screening in Nakhon Phanom Province during 1999–2001 to evaluate the feasibility and readiness of the government health-care infrastructure to provide screening and to inform the scaling up of an incremental national screening programme in the future. Thus, she was a key person who catalysed the introduction of national population-based cervical cancer screening for Thai women in 2002, including the development of a national registration system for cervical cytology testing and outcomes. She also provided technical support to neighbouring countries seeking to introduce cervical cancer early detection programmes as well as national cancer control programmes.
After her retirement from the NCI, Dr Petcharin remained active in research collaborations and in the development of new techniques, including stem cell research, through her own private laboratories.
Our deepest sympathy is with Dr Petcharin’s family and friends.