Research is vital in the fight against cancer and Friends of the Cancer Centre is the leading local cancer charity funding research right here in Northern Ireland.

Friends of the Cancer Centre is playing a major part in the fight against cancer through the various projects funded by the charity.  The charity is a proud partner with the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queen’s University, investing over £1 million in the centre's work in clinical trials in recent years.  We also fund doctors who are heavily involved in research, lab technicians, research nurses as well as vital equipment which allows some of the leading local scientists to carry out potentially life - saving work.

Most importantly, the money that we put into research stays in Northern Ireland and benefits local people.  Here are just some of the ways we are supporting cancer research locally.

Dr Suneil Jain

Consultant Clinical Oncologist

Dr Jain is a senior oncologist in the Cancer Centre and as well as treating patients, Dr Jain is also heavily involved in prostate cancer research and in particular he focuses on new ways to deliver treatment to secure better outcomes for patients.  His current research focuses on exploiting prostate cancer’s sensitivity to large doses of radiotherapy, with the aim that this will improve cure rates in patients.

Clinical trials

Through our partnership with the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University, Friends of the Cancer Centre will invest nearly £1million into research over the next 3 years. The investment has allowed the CCRCB to recruit new staff to plan and deliver clinical trials.  The new posts will allow for further research of world leading cancer trials, an increase in patient recruitment numbers and ultimately improved outcomes for patients.

Michael Hanna

Senior Data Manager

Michael has a vital role within the clinical trials team, working with consultants and researchers to progress trials which are being developed by local research teams. This includes the design and structuring of new clinical trial databases, management of the clinical trials data team, and reporting on all clinical trials data.


Alison McKeever

Clinical Research Nurse

Taking part in a clinical trial can be a difficult decision and a key part of Alison’s role is to support patients through the decision making process to ensure that they make a choice which is right for them.  Once enrolled, Alison is then on hand to support patients during their treatment, ensuring that they are informed and safe throughout. 

Lynn McCourt

Clinical Research Radiographer

Lynn works within the Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Network and is an integral part of the clinical trials team, coordinating many local and national radiation oncology trials. Lynn plays a key role in adopting new clinical trials into the radiotherapy department – ensuring patients have access to the latest radiotherapy clinical trial treatments.

Ellen Brown

Clinical Trials Pharmacy Technician

Ellen works within the pharmacy team helping to safeguard trial subjects, healthcare professionals and the Trust by procuring, handling, using and storing investigational medicinal products in accordance with the requirements of the approved protocol, relevant guidelines and regulations. Ellen has been trained in and has experience of Good Clinical Practice. 

Amy Elliott

Clinical Trials Administration Officer

Amy provides an essential administrative service in the Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) to facilitate research activity. Amy liaises with consultants, managers, clinical trial practitioners, data managers, nursing and other medical staff in addition to local and national organisations necessary to the function of NICTN. Amy’s role ensures that clinical trials run efficiently for NICTN.

Karen Crowther

R & D Radiographer

This post has been funded by the charity for over 15 years, with Karen taking up the post in January 2016. Karen will have a lead role in supporting continuous improvement and modernisation within the rapidly changing environment of the radiotherapy department. She will also focus on ensuring the radiotherapy department has the technical capability to support trials for local patients.

Ross Murphy

Postgraduate Research Student

Ross is a PhD student within the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's University whose research is within prostate cancer where he aims to integrate different types of patient data such as their cancer tumour's genomic profile, imaging data from CT scans and clinical data. His research will aim to discover new prostate cancer biomarkers which will be able to improve outcomes for patients.

Northern Ireland Biobank

The Northern Ireland Biobank collects and uses biological samples to support research programmes, including cancer research, in Northern Ireland.  Friends of the Cancer Centre has supported the Biobank since it was established, purchasing vital equipment and software. 

Bladder scanner

Friends of the Cancer Centre has purchased two bladder scanners for the Cancer Centre's radiotherapy department and they have become a vital piece of equipment when assessing patients.  The bladder scan devices are regularly used for patients who have urinary problems and allow medical staff to diagnose issues quickly and accurately.  The scan is painless and the reading is instantly available for the doctor or radiographer to assess.

Ultrasound probe

In 2009 Friends of the Cancer Centre purchased an ultrasound probe which is used by the medical team in the Cancer Centre to detect and treat prostate cancer and some gynaecological cancers.  The probe is an essential part of the brachytherpy (internal radiotherapy) service delivered in the hospital and the equipment has allowed staff to see and treat more patients, reducing waiting times as a result.

Ground-breaking prostate cancer trial

Friends of the Cancer Centre's consultant oncologist, Dr Suneil Jain, has been supporting the development of a new trial, the first of it's kind in the world, aimed at extending the lives of men with advanced prostate cancer.  Led by Professor O'Sullivan, Queen's University and in partnership with the Belfast Trust, the ADRRAD trial will take place in the Cancer Centre over the next 18 months. Read more here.