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Wiltshire based Vivien Sheriff at launch of new brain tumour research partnerships

By jspiteri  |  Posted: March 14, 2014


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Wiltshire based Milliner Vivien Sheriff was one of 150 patients, carers, scientists, clinicians and charities from across the UK who headed to Speaker’s House on 4th March for the launch of three ground-breaking new collaborative partnerships set up by the charity Brain Tumour Research and three Research Centres of Excellence.

The announcement has opened a new chapter in long-term sustainable and continuous research into the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 and paves the way for a £20 million investment in brain tumour research over the next five years.

Vivien understands only too well the significance of these partnerships having lost a close family friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in the prime of his life.

At the reception held at Speaker’s House, Vivien Sheriff commented: “The news today that three new Centres of Excellence will be entering a funding partnership with Brain Tumour Research, thereby ensuring that research will be continuous and sustained, is really welcome to all those families impacted by brain tumours. For so long, this disease has been the “Cinderella cancer”. This planned investment brings fresh hope that more effective treatments and ultimately a cure will be found… And soon.”

Building on their inaugural Centre at the University of Portsmouth, Brain Tumour Research’s collaboration with Queen Mary University of London working with UCL Institute of Neurology; Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (London); and Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry will create a network of flourishing brain tumour research centres throughout the UK where research work will include greater understanding of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), low grade tumours and the biology of brain tumour metabolism.

With secure long-term funding covering the key salaried positions within these centres, the researchers will be freed from the limitations and frustrations of applying for one specific project grant after another and instead will be able to pursue the sustainable and continuous research so desperately needed by the scientists and clinicians working in this underfunded field.

Promising scientists will be trained up through the ranks to fulfil their potential, rather than being tempted into other cancer research which currently attracts greater funding, and with it greater job security. As specialist brain tumour expertise and knowledge builds, those experienced researchers can then move between Centres to encourage cross-pollination of the very best thinking at the cutting-edge of brain tumour research.

The charity is no stranger to innovation where funding research is concerned, having already established the UK’s first Centre of Excellence dedicated solely to scientific research into all types of brain tumour within the University of Portsmouth. Ongoing funding supplied by Brain Tumour Research and its member charities and fundraising groups sustains a long-term £1 million-a-year programme of research at this Centre. Indeed, since the launch in 2010, Brain Tumour Research has successfully built the UK’s largest dedicated team of laboratory-based research scientists at the Centre, and it is this model team structure that will be used as ‘proof of concept’ in assembling the right expertise within the new Centres.

These institutions will now each become an active fundraising partner with Brain Tumour Research and the charity will supply dedicated members of staff with proficiency in fundraising, marketing and PR to work at both local and national levels alongside existing teams, creating a dynamic fundraising atmosphere.

Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: “Along with our centre at the University of Portsmouth, the Centres will form a new and powerful network, collaborating with each other and other institutes, both within the UK and internationally, in order to accelerate progress in brain tumour research and make a clinical difference. All involved share a vision of a sustainable and secure research for brain tumours in the UK, ultimately creating better futures for all those diagnosed and living with a brain tumour.”

Sue continued: “Only 18.8% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50% across other cancers. This statistic is better than it used to be, but brain tumours are still responsible for more years of life lost than any other form of cancer making it the most lethal form of cancer by this measure. But we are determined to do all we can to change this, and to one day find a cure for this devastating disease.”

As the network of Centres grows, the charity will continually review the research landscape and activities of these institutes to ensure that the right teams and research priorities are in place, ensuring all 120+ types of brain tumours are being researched. They will seek to identify all causes of brain tumours, to understand every aspect of brain tumour behaviour and discover treatments that will improve outcomes for any and every brain tumour patient.

The Brain Tumour Research charity aim to establish seven centres and at the next application round will identify gaps in research and invite applications from other groups and centres with the specialist knowledge to fulfil the needs in what some Neuro-oncologists are calling “the last battleground against cancer”.

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