A leading academic has lent his weight to calls for the government to provide emergency funding to support research carried out at three Centres of Excellence run by charity Brain Tumour Research, including one at the University.
Professor Oliver Hanemann, who is Principal Investigator at the University’s Centre, is quoted in a letter written by Derek Thomas MP, who represents St Ives, West Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly, and addressed to Health Minister Jo Churchill and Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
Mr Thomas noted that March is Brain Tumour Awareness Month, culminating in the charity’s Wear a Hat Day fundraising campaign, and is normally followed shortly after by the London Marathon. These two events raise a significant proportion of the money needed to fund the Centres of Excellence, and both were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Thomas said it was “critical” that research was not interrupted, adding:
“This is why I have written both to the Chancellor and the Health Minister calling for gap-funding to see us through this year. With coronavirus medical research is now top of the agenda. Finding a cure for brain tumours has long been at the top of the agenda for families who have lived through this.”
Professor Hanemann, Chair of Clinical Neurobiology and Director of the Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine (ITSMED) in the University’s Faculty of Health said:
“The funding support from Brain Tumour Research received for the past five years has enabled our lab to recruit and sustain scientific talent who have the potential to move the dial forward as we strive to fund breakthroughs in brain tumour research.
“It is no exaggeration to say that without this funding the growth of our research base and the progress we have made would not have happened.”
Brain Tumour Research said it is losing 70 per cent of its expected income – an immediate £1m drop in funding - as a result of the pandemic, and the recently announced package of support measures for charities is not applicable as it does not provide 'frontline' services.
It warns charity-funded research into brain tumours could stop with devastating impact, and is seeking a one-off £1m grant to keep it going.
Sue Farrington Smith MBE, Chief Executive said:
“The stark reality is that charity-funded research into brain tumours could stop and the vital progress we have made will be lost. This pandemic demonstrates to us all the importance of science but the need for scientific research into brain tumours was there before coronavirus – it will be there following coronavirus. Basic medical research is hugely reliant on charities. Indeed, members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) such as us contribute 66 per cent of the national spend on cancer research.
“The survival of dedicated research charities like ours will be a key point of any financial recovery. Our current financial commitments to continue research funding at our three centres for the next six months is £1.3 million and we may not be able to grant any further funds to keep research going thereafter.
“It makes sense, for the Government to make one-off grants to charities such as Brain Tumour Research, to support us during this period and give us the opportunity to provide excellent value for money for the Government in the future, by continuing to support the research it has come to rely on us to instigate and fund."