A leading cancer research charity has pledged over £400,000 to aid three young researchers, as they embark on a series of PhD studentships designed to fund the next generation of cancer research.
North West Cancer Research (NWCR) Incorporating Clatterbridge Cancer Research will fund the students for the next four years, as they work in conjunction with researchers at the NWCR Research Centre at the University of Liverpool, on cancer related projects.
The students, Lucy Ireland, Erithelgi Bertsoulaki (Eri) and Valeria Quaranta, have now begun working with the Centre’s research teams. They will examine research that covers all types and stages of cancer development, including how cancer cells are formed and how they react to certain treatments; several of the projects will also look in more detail at pancreatic cancer.
These three students were selected following a rigorous application process, which saw over 252 students from all over the world, apply for research places this year. Their merits and suitability were assessed by an esteemed panel of researchers, scientists and clinicians, who selected the final three candidates, assigning them to suitable research projects.
Latest research figures show that people in Liverpool are 23% more likely to develop cancer than those living elsewhere in the UK, with mortality rates 76% percent above the European average in lung cancer. This is why supporting new cancer researchers, such as Lucy, Eri and Valeria, is a vital part of the funding, which NWCR provides for the NWCR Research Centre.
NWCR works to facilitate research projects that directly benefit people living in the North West, and has supported research at the University of Liverpool for many years. Its investment in research projects, which also covers Lancaster University and the University of Bangor amounts to more than £28million. This year alone it has awarded £2million worth of research funding.
Around 30 principal investigators work under the umbrella of the NWCR Cancer Research centre, helping to make Liverpool a centre of excellence when it comes to cancer research. Research initiatives already underway include a first ever clinical trial looking at the effects of chemotherapy in patients with bile duct cancer, as well as those looking at pancreatic cancer, and head and neck cancers – all of which are prevalent in the North West.
Prof. Sarah Coupland, Director of the NWCR Research Centre, said:
“The Centre was set up to act as the ‘glue’ bringing together all the different cancer research teams as a cohesive unit, and to help us coordinate our research portfolio in essential areas.”
“Since launching in 2009 originally under the CRUK banner, we have gone from strength to strength and NWCR has supported us throughout all of this, particularly in the last 12 months, helping maintain Liverpool ‘on the map’ when it comes to world-class cancer research.”
“Part of the work we do involves rallying up and supporting the next generation of researchers, creating a ‘research academy’, which will have an increasingly important role to play in reducing the region’s high cancer rates. This is why our PhD studentships are so important.”
“Hopefully through having the chance to experience working through well-structured research projects, we will be able to inspire these new leaders, who will take on the continuous fight against cancer.”
Eri Bertsoulaki, graduated from the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Patras, Greece. She will further her studies, by working with Prof. Michael Clague, Prof. Sylvie Urbe and Prof. Barry Pizer to research the effects of treatments on Neuroblastoma one of the most common cancers in childhood.
“From the early years of my studies I have always known that I wanted to work in cancer research. Cancer is a complex disease, with many mutations and underlying mechanisms, which is why any research which helps increase our understanding of how it works and helps us fight and kill the ‘enemy’ is so important.”
“Cancer has a tremendous impact on our society today and I am extremely honoured to have been given the opportunity from NWCR to undertake research which is at the forefront of the fight against cancer.”
“Without the help and funding from NWCR I would not have been given this opportunity to work with some of the professions top clinicians and researchers, in a city which is classed among some of the best in the world when it comes to cancer research.”