The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) launches its new five-year strategy today (Tuesday) to accelerate progress in cancer research through collaboration. The strategy will help cancer research funders to maximise opportunities to improve the health and quality of life of people who have had, or may one day develop, cancer. It will also ensure research continues to drive improvements in prevention, treatment, and patient care and support.
Cancer survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years and research has been central to this success. However, many challenges lay ahead that are too vast for one organisation to tackle alone. The NCRI Partnership will work together to achieve four goals: to accelerate the translation of cancer research into clinical practice, to improve the quality and relevance of research related to cancer, to address major opportunities and challenges in cancer research and to ensure a coordinated portfolio of cancer research in the UK.
Around 2.5 million people are living with, or have experienced, cancer across the UK and this number is expected to rise to around 4 million by 2030 as the population ages and research develops better treatments to help more people live longer with and beyond cancer.
Karen Kennedy, Director of the NCRI, said: “There has never been a more urgent need for collaboration to fund research that addresses the complex needs of cancer patients at every stage of their journey through and beyond cancer. Research is making life-changing advances in cancer treatments, but the long-term effects of cancer can have a far-reaching impact, affecting people’s health and quality of life.”
The NCRI Partnership enables collaboration between 19 of the biggest funders of cancer research from the UK’s charity and government sectors. It facilitates more than 250 meetings per year, to bring together the right clinicians, scientists, research nurses, patient experts and other specialists to tackle the big issues facing cancer research.
Its activities include co-ordinating a Clinical Trials Unit Group, where trial specialists collaborate to identify needs common to all cancer clinical trials, and its Clinical Studies Groups – a series of advisory groups spanning all cancer types that bring together UK experts to accelerate research to improve cancer treatments, and help those affected by cancer to live well.
One of the NCRI’s strategic goals is to seize opportunities and address challenges in cancer-related research, and as part of this it will encourage research that meets the needs of people living with and beyond cancer. In partnership with the James Lind Alliance, its new initiative in ‘Living with and Beyond Cancer’ will mean people affected by cancer and clinical health care professionals can pose the questions they feel are unanswered about living with or beyond cancer, so they can be addressed through research. People affected by cancer and health care professionals will work together to prioritise the questions in to a top-ten. The NCRI will also be working with researchers to help ensure research proposals to address the top-ten questions are successfully funded.
It’s through this kind of collaboration that NCRI will help improve the health and quality of life of cancer patients and the wider public.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chair of the NCRI, said: “Collaboration is at the centre of the NCRI’s new strategy, ensuring patients, health care professionals and researchers all have a voice. Working together will ensure the cancer research community overcomes the enormous challenges facing them in this uncertain political and economic environment.”
The NCRI partnership was set up to facilitate collaboration between cancer research funders and to address gaps and challenges in research that wouldn’t be possible for one organisation to tackle alone. It comprises 19 key funders in cancer research across the four UK nations which, collectively, have spent more than £6 billion pounds on cancer research since the partnership was established in 2001.