The mood of the meeting was optimistic, with experienced members of the brain tumour community talking of the opportunities that working together present and recognising that we have all been part of hugely significant year.
The meeting first heard from Mike Batley, the Deputy Director of Research Programmes at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). After the recent DHSC report on how to increase the level and impact of research into brain tumours, the Government has pledged a £40 million research package which is to be coordinated by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) over the next five years (an annual investment pledge of circa £8 million).
Mike explained how some of these funds will contribute towards current brain tumour studies being sponsored by NIHR, whilst the majority of funds will be coordinated within The Dame Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Research Mission.
Recently, it was announced that Professor Richard Gilbertson, Director of the Cambridge Cancer Centre, will Chair the Steering Group of the Mission, leading on broad research themes that encompass the recommendations of the earlier DHSC Task and Finish Working Group report. The DHSC Task and Finish Working Group was set up in response to our e-petition and the subsequent Westminster Hall debate in 2016.
The meeting also received an update on the evidence that the ongoing APPGBT Inquiry into the costs of brain tumours has collected throughout Spring 2018. Across web forums, formal written evidence and oral evidence sessions, the Inquiry has received over 250 pieces of evidence. This will inform the Inquiry’s final report, which will be published later this year to add weight to the need for increased investment in research.
This year, the case for a £35 million brain tumour research investment per year, in line with that awarded to other cancers such as breast and leukaemia, has been hugely strengthened.