Four Centres and counting... Advancements in research made every day… But millions more needed to fund three further Centres in pursuit of a cure.

We are the only national charity in the UK that is dedicated to granting all available funds to continuous and sustainable life-saving research into brain tumours; supporting the UK’s largest dedicated group of laboratory-based scientists, progressing world-class research into brain tumours, working tirelessly to glean new layers of understanding about this disease.

In 2009 we pledged to establish seven Centres of Excellence dedicated to brain tumour research. In 2010, in collaboration with Member Charities Ali’s Dream and Charlie’s Challenge we established our first Research Centre of Excellence in the University of Portsmouth. Our Centres are established following an innovative application and international peer review process.

Establishing Brain Tumour Research Centres of Excellence

University of Portsmouth

Professor Geoff Pilkington and his team of specialist researchers within the Cellular and Molecular Neuro-Oncology Group are working tirelessly to find new levels of understanding in one of the most complicated and challenging battle-grounds in medicine today: to achieve a full understanding of all types of brain tumour and the methods required to cure them. His team now includes:
A Principal Research Fellow, Research Fellows, Senior Research Associates and PhD Students. Their team is strengthened with
MSc and Erasmus students. The Centre has grown from strength to strength and is now is the largest dedicated brain tumour research centre in the UK. The research is also supported by funds being brought in by other charities, including Ali's Dream, Charlie's Challenge, Anna's HopeHeadcase, the Ollie Young Foundation, the Dr Hadwen Trust and Children with Cancer. 

Geoff and his team are keenly aware of the work and effort put in by the Brain Tumour Research team and their UK-wide network of collaborations as well as their collective passion to find a cure for brain tumours. “Neuro-oncology research teams like ours remain reliant on charity funding to support our work,” he says. "While we are gaining fresh ground in better understanding the nature of tumours and a consequent path to resolving them, we need finance to establish more centres employing the talent for the basis of better outcomes in patients diagnosed with a brain tumour.”

“Brain Tumour Research, its Member Charities and its supporters play a central role in enabling us to advance the work here at the University of Portsmouth. I know I speak for everyone on my team when I thank them all for their vital support.”

Building ‘critical mass’ of research team expertise

During 2013 we invited applications for our next Centres of Excellence. Twelve initial applications were received, with eight progressing to full applications.  Following an open, transparent and stringent peer-review process, we announced three new centres in March 2014. It is our steadfast resolve to provide continuous and sustainable funding to all of our Centres of Excellence and to achieve our aim to fund a total of seven centres. Applications to establish further centres will be announced in due course.

Our three new Centres are:

Queen Mary University of London in collaboration with UCL Institute of Neurology

Research led by Professor Silvia Marino, a leading brain tumour scientist and neuropathologist based within Queen Mary’s Blizard Institute, will specialise in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Professor Sheer, also from Queen Mary, and Professor Brandner and Dr Rees at UCL Institute of Neurology will be the other key partners in this initiative.

The research will focus on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and most aggressive type of malignant brain tumour found in humans. The aim of the research is to increase our understanding of the cells within the brain from which GBM originates. The team will look at how this particular type of brain tumour develops from normal cells, and which genes and biological functions control its behaviour. By uncovering this essential knowledge, the clinical evaluation of each individual patient can be improved and better and more specific drugs which target the tumour cells can be identified.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (London)

The partnership with Imperial College Healthcare will contribute to trials led by Mr Kevin O’Neill, a consultant neurosurgeon at the Trust, and a team of world-class researchers to investigate the biology of tumour metabolisms to further understand the behaviour of this disease. The team will also be able to extend their use of innovative 3D real time surgical imaging.


Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry

The Peninsula team led by Professor Oliver Hanemann has a world-leading track record in researching low-grade brain tumours occurring in teenagers and adults. By identifying and understanding the mechanism that makes a cell become cancerous, the team explore ways in which to halt or reverse that mechanism. A key innovation is fast track: testing new drugs in human primary cell cultures leading to innovative phase 0 trials leading to adaptive phase II/III trials with the potential for making drug therapies available to patients both safely and faster.




Help fund the research - Sponsor A Day

It costs approximately £1m per year to fund one of our Centres of Excellence: that's £2,740 per day. 

As a reminder of this and as a fantastic goal for our fundraisers, we have our Sponsor A Day campaign. For every £2,740 raised, our supporter/s can place a tile on the Wall of Hope at the Centre of their choice. Visit our 
Sponsor A Day pages to find out more. 


Looking to the future...

The collaboration lead by us with our four Centres will create a network of successful brain tumour research centres throughout the UK. 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 drawn away into other areas of cancer research due to the greater funding and with it better job security. As we build specialist brain tumour expertise and knowledge at our Centres, those experienced researchers can then move between the Centres to encourage cross-pollination of the very best thinking at the vanguard 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 each of our Centres. Indeed, since the launch of our Portsmouth Centre in 2010, Brain Tumour Research has successfully built the UK’s largest dedicated team of laboratory-based research scientists; 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.

These four 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 environment for brain tumours in the UK, ultimately creating better futures for all those diagnosed and living with a brain tumour. Less than 20% 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.”

We are determined to ensure that the causes of brain tumours are identified, to ensure that every aspect of brain tumours is understood, to ensure that all 120+ types of brain tumours are being researched, to ensure that treatments that will improve outcomes are discovered and to ensure that a cure for brain tumours will be found.

As the network of Centres grows, Brain Tumour Research 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. We 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.

At Brain Tumour Research we will continue to 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”.

In addition to our four Centres, our Member Charities fund programme and research projects at the following centres:

·         Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast

·         Leeds Institute for Molecular Medicine

·         The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham

·         The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)

In addition, we received applications from the following centres in our most recent application round:

·         Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and the University of Birmingham

·         The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust (Liverpool)

·         University of Bristol










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