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 NI Cancer Trials Network and the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s University, investing over £2 million in clinical trials in recent years. We also fund doctors who are heavily involved in research, 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.
Professor Suneil Jain
Consultant Clinical Oncologist
Professor Jain is a senior oncologist in the Cancer Centre and as well as treating patients, he is also heavily involved in prostate cancer research. 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.
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.
Clinical Trials Practitioner
Jo plays a key role in the establishment and governance of each clinical trial that is facilitated at the NI Cancer Trials Network. Jo also deals with financial procedures for clinical trials and ensures that the NICTN is operating within the key governance and legislation processes for research.
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.
Clinical Research Nurse
Emma works within the team at the NI Cancer Trials Network and her role involves tailoring care for each individual patient taking part in a clinical trial. She screens and selects patients who are suitable for haematology trials, and once patients opt in to taking part, Emma acts as a key contact point and co-ordinates their care throughout.
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.
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.
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.
Research & Development Radiographer
This post has been funded by the charity for over 15 years, with Diane most recently taking up the role in February 2020. Diane plays a lead role in supporting continuous improvement and modernisation within the radiotherapy department. She also works to ensure that the radiotherapy department has the technical capability to support cancer trials for local patients.
Dr Mohi Varasteh
Mohi provides dedicated scientific support for the implementation and review of advanced radiotherapy treatment in the NI Cancer Centre. This includes conducting research and furthering development in the field of radiotherapy physics and supporting the technical aspects of radiotherapy clinical trials taking place at the Cancer Centre.
Postgraduate Research Student
Ross is a PhD student 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, software, and supporting innovative projects which are helping to improve the experience of biobanking for local cancer patients.
The charity 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.
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 brachytherapy (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.