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

Laying the foundations for a cure

by Sue Farrington Smith MBE

It feels that during this year our dream of a cure is getting closer. The establishment of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission and the Government announcements of £40 million funding over the next five years through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), coupled with the £25 million that Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has committed to invest, are significant milestones on our journey to a cure.

When we launched Brain Tumour Research in 2009, we highlighted the woeful under-funding of brain tumour research. Our 2015 Invest in a Cure manifesto sought to shine a spotlight on the issue and we called on the UK Government to work with us to increase the national investment in brain tumour research to £30 - £35 million every year in line with breast cancer and leukaemia. Brain tumour research and improved outcomes for patients now have a high profile and this wouldn’t have happened without the brain tumour community speaking with one voice and the support you have given to our vital campaigning work. I am delighted to represent you all on the Brain Cancer Mission Steering Group, which is taking forward the recommendations of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Task and Finish Working Group, in which we also played a leading role.

We are proud to be working on those recommendations that are aligned with our strategy and, in particular, to be working with the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the British Neuroscience Association (BNA) to bring together, this autumn, experts from across the neurosciences in a workshop to encourage collaboration between the disciplines. This is all very exciting ... Yet there is still so much to do. We need your support more than ever to realise the funding streams committed by the NIHR and CRUK. Their money is distributed to applicants who can provide evidence that the research they want to undertake will produce results that will lead to cures. Those applicants cannot provide such ‘preliminary’ evidence without early stage research being carried out in Centres such as ours – research that you are helping to fund.

It is this research that will make the ground-breaking discoveries that will open up new avenues of research. We challenge our researchers to produce the quality of research that will enable them to win funding from larger organisations such as CRUK, the NIHR and the MRC. This, in turn, will increase the amount of national investment into brain tumour research.

Brain tumours are complicated. It takes years of research to make discoveries that will positively impact patient outcomes. We are on that journey. Thanks to the foundations we have laid:

  • Our collaborative approach has led to the coming together of brain tumour charities to speak with one voice
  • Our campaigning has led to an increase in national investment
  • Our Centres are poised to share important learnings over the next 12 months and to be able to access the funding streams now available

Thank you for your support on this journey. Please stay with us and help build a network of experts in sustainable brain tumour research.

Together we will find a cure. 
 
Sue Farrington Smith MBE, Chief Executive

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