HE is Glasgow's latest weapon in the fight against cancer.

American scientist Dr Seth Coffelt has taken up a post at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute to help find a cure for breast cancer.

And Seth's commitment to the cause is personal, as his mother-in-law faced a breast cancer diagnosis.

The father-of-three has relocated his young family to Glasgow where he aims to continue his research into how the body’s immune system can help breast cancer to spread.

For the 39-year-old, moving to Glasgow was an easy decision to make.

He said: “When I came here for my interview, I thought ‘Holy cow - this place is fantastic.’

"I really felt like I could make a contribution here and when I saw the magnitude of the research going on here, I knew it was the right place for me.”

Seth, who comes from the same Missouri town as Brad Pitt, watched his mother-in-law face a breast cancer diagnosis in the late 1990s.

This spurred him to be part of the team at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute where scientists are carrying out world class research to understand more about cancer, including how it spreads around the body.

It has also made him keen to back Cancer Research UK’s Right Now campaign.

The Right Now TV, poster and radio campaign launched with a TV advert on Boxing Day and aims to show the reality of cancer for patients, their friends and family.

Seth’s career in cancer research started in Missouri at Drury University where he began studying biology and where he realised his love for science meant he could help to save lives.

He moved to New Orleans in 2001 where he began his PhD in molecular biology at Tulane University.

He and wife Amy were working in the city when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

Seth said: “It was really hard. We were fortunate that our apartment was on the other side of the city from where the floodwaters hit.

"But the university labs where we worked had to close for four months, which meant that all of us researchers had to leave the city to go and work with our collaborators around the country.

“We were spread out everywhere. It meant that, for some of my friends and fellow students, I saw them on the Friday before the storm - and I haven’t seen them since. People just vanished.”

Seth and Amy returned to Missouri for four months, where he taught at his old university.

When they came back to New Orleans, Seth was part of the team who worked hard to rebuild the university labs which had been devastated by the storm.

He added: “Everything in the lab was gone. Everything we were working on was completely lost. There was no electricity so all of our samples in the freezers were destroyed.

"We had to go into the labs in the pitch black and try and salvage what we could.”

The storm set Seth’s work back for about a year but he finally completed his PhD in 2006.

Then his research took him to Europe - first to Sheffield University and then on to the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam.

Now at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, he plans to carry on his work looking at how breast cancer cells hijack certain cells of the body’s immune system to help them spread to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes.

Seth said: “We now know that the immune system is kind of funky in that some immune cells work to prevent cancer spreading, but other immune cells actually promote cancer development and spread.

“My research is studying this paradox to understand what causes these immune cells to take on these different roles.

“Using this information we hope to find a way to ramp up the activity of those cells that protect against cancer spread, which in future could be used to help develop new treatments to stop breast cancer spreading.”

Since moving to Glasgow in May, Seth, his wife Amy and his three young children Nora, aged six, Silas, three, and one-year-old Eden have settled in to their new home in Glasgow’s West End, where – weather-permitting – they enjoy spending their weekends in Kelvingrove Park or in the city’s Botanic Gardens.

Seth said: “The kids just love going through the old Victorian greenhouses in the Botanic Gardens - they like to pretend they’re trekking through the jungle.”

They have also spent some time exploring Scotland, playing mini-golf in St Andrews and visiting Loch Lomond and the Wallace Monument near Stirling.

For 2017, Seth says he is looking forward to building his team and continuing to make progress in his quest to understand the immune system’s involvement in breast cancer spreading – not least so he can update his mother-in-law, who is now clear of her cancer.

He said: “Whenever we go back to the States, she always wants to know what I’ve been working on and what new things we’ve found out.

“Through her experience with breast cancer, I know how shattering it is to hear the words ‘you’ve got cancer’ and that’s what spurs me on in my research.

“That’s why I’m supporting the Right Now campaign.

"I’m so grateful to all of Cancer Research UK’s supporters who make my job possible and I’d really like to encourage them to keep doing what they can to help us find better treatments for this devastating disease.”

Victoria Steven, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “We are so grateful to Seth for backing our Right Now campaign.

“Every hour, around four people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland. That’s why we’re working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.

"But we can’t do it alone. We hope our new campaign will inspire the people of Glasgow to take action, right now, and play their part in helping scientists like Seth to beat cancer sooner.”

For more information see www.cruk.org