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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

The vital importance of Research Centres of Excellence

by Dr Kieran Breen

One of the challenges in the research arena is trying to obtain funding for new projects. In order to submit a grant application, you need preliminary data. In order to obtain this data, you need funding.

It can appear to be a vicious circle and this can be a particular problem for research into brain tumours where there has been a dearth of investment over a number of years.

This is why the funding of Research Centres of Excellence by Brain Tumour Research is vital. Centre funding doesn’t restrict the researchers to working on very specific areas as frequently happens in short-term research programmes. Rather, our Centres operate at a thematic level. In addition to carrying out ground breaking research, there is the opportunity for the researchers to develop new transformational research programmes. The results generated can then be used to apply for support from other funders and therefore increase the total amount of funding being invested into brain tumour research.

But, in order to increase the volume of research being carried out, and the overall level of investment, new researchers are also required. So, a second aim of our Centres is to train the next generation of scientists and clinicians working in this area. The Centres train promising young researchers to develop skills in cutting-edge techniques in addition to allowing them to work in a larger team where they will interact with other researchers. Our network of research Centres also facilitates this training and the exchange of skills and knowledge. Ultimately, the researchers can apply for their own funding in the form of fellowships or go on to take up tenured positions. Again, this will lead to an increase in the amount of the cancer research funding pot being directed to support brain tumour research.

Although the amount currently invested in brain tumour research is worryingly low, through our support of research Centres of Excellence we are working to develop the capacity for researchers to apply for additional funding so that the overall amount invested will increase significantly in the coming years.

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