In 2014, in response to the apparent dearth of funding going into paediatric brain tumour research, we ring-fenced funds of £3 million to be spent over a three-year period on innovative new brain tumour research.
These funds were additional to those available through our pre-existing funding streams (such as project grants and research fellowships), through which we would continue to encourage applications in the brain tumour field.
Underpinning this new initiative was a strong emphasis on collaborative working. Our first call for applications, issued in 2014, requested collaborative, multi-disciplinary applications costing up to £500k each. We received a strong response to the call and ultimately awarded four grants totalling £1.81m – to brain tumour projects based at UCL Institute of Child Health (JP Martinez Barbera), University of Nottingham (Richard Grundy), University of Edinburgh (Steve Pollard) and University of Birmingham (Andrew Peet).
As a result of the projects funded under the initiative, as well as our investment in the INSTINCT network and projects funded through our other schemes, 30 per cent of our current research funds are invested in brain tumour research.
In February 2016, we hosted a workshop on drug delivery in paediatric brain tumours.
Under the Chairmanship of Professor David Walker, chair of our Scientific Advisory Panel, we brought together a unique group of people to tackle the very specific problem of drug delivery in childhood brain tumours; the first workshop of this kind worldwide.
As well as some of the UK’s leading scientists and clinicians, we were joined by leading figures from Europe, the US and Canada. We were also joined by other research funders, patient representatives and policy makers.
Participants enjoyed two intensive days of presentations and debate focused on how to overcome the blood-brain barrier and deliver therapy effectively to the brain.
Following the workshop, we issued a call for applications for projects focusing specifically on the delivery of therapy to paediatric brain tumours. The deadline for expressions of interest under this call has now closed. Grants will ultimately be awarded in December.