The Wales Cancer Research Centre was launched in 2015, and awarded £4.5m by Health and Care Research Wales to deliver a three year programme of research. This funding period has recently been extended by two years, and a further £3m awarded to take the centre to 2020.
This new funding period brings with it an exciting time of change, and we are thrilled to be introducing new posts to improve our work in order to deliver more effective treatments to patients.
We will continue leading practice-changing research by investing in researchers themselves to develop new clinical trials. These researchers include Nick Morley, Consultant Radiologist at Llandough Hospital, Dean Harris, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Singleton Hospital, and James Powell, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Velindre Cancer Centre. Another important role we are funding is a consultant to act as the Health and Cancer Research Wales Cancer Specialty Lead. Dr Rob Jones, Consultant and Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology at Velindre Cancer Centre and Cardiff University has been appointed this role to promote, champion and encourage involvement in cancer trials within NHS Wales, and have an overview of all trials across Health Boards.
Linked with this role, we will employ a part time Project Officer, jointly funded by the Wales Cancer Network. The Network is responsible for NHS delivery of cancer services, and through close working with them we hope to deliver research that is clinically relevant and that patients are better able to access. The post-holder will provide support to increase awareness of cancer trials across Wales, contributing to recruiting more patients, and thereby, rapidly translating trial results into future treatments.
Most clinical trials in Wales are currently conducted in Cardiff, but we want to progress towards a genuinely regional Early Phase Trials service which will deliver a greater number and variety of new therapies for patients. Our ambition is to expand the geographical range of patients who can take advantage of our service. To help move this ambition forwards, we are employing a consultant on a part-time basis to deliver an ‘outreach’ clinical session in Swansea.
We will also employ an additional research associate post working with Steve Conlan (Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at Swansea University) and researchers in Cardiff University to advance the development of biological therapies. These include harnessing the power of viruses and the body’s own immune system to target cancer, with the hope that we can advance these therapies to clinical trials.
We are also investing more posts in our community research. The first of these is a research associate who will work directly with the NHS to identify research priorities. This post will also focus on development of brain tumour supportive care, coordinating UK collaborations to progress new trial designs, early palliative care and structured physical activity.
Dr Grace McCutchan will fill the second post focusing on community research. In this role she will increase our capacity to bring money into Wales through grant income, and develop and test interventions in lung cancer. The post will progress screening and prevention, particularly in the areas of earlier diagnosis in colorectal cancer.
An additional part time Research Associate Dr Luke Piggott, will improve our links with the pharmaceuticals industry, marketing Welsh researchers’ skills and capabilities externally. This will encourage a collaborative, outward-looking culture that we hope will generate further research partnerships and bring income into Wales.
We anticipate that these additional posts will bring more research funding into Wales, improve research collaboration and increase the availability of clinical trials to patients in Wales.