Two grants have been awarded from a programme of nearly £5 million to boost research into supportive and palliative care for British cancer patients.

The funding scheme was created by the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) in response to a report on “Supportive and Palliative Care Research in the UK” published in 2004*. The report identified the need for research in the field to be enhanced and more widely published in order to improve the quality of care for cancer patients. It recommended the setting up of a funding programme which could be specifically targeted to encourage collaborations of health and social care professionals to undertake appropriate research.

Two large collaborations of researchers from universities and health care settings, known as Cancer Experiences Collaborative (CECo) and Complex Interventions: Assessment, Trials and Implementation of Services (COMPASS), will each receive about £1.9 million over the next 5 years.

The funding is provided by six of the NCRI’s partner organisations – the Department of Health, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council. In addition to these two major awards, a sum of £900,000 has been made available for a Capacity Building Grant Scheme to link in isolated or new investigators to broaden the work of the two funded collaboratives, and to develop a national network of researchers for the future. The first round of competition for this scheme will be assessed in September this year.

The planning phase for the collaboratives has already reaped rewards. Professor Julia Addington-Hall of Southampton University, part of the CECo team, said: “We have already made progress in establishing strong functioning research programmes including clear leadership from all five universities involved in the collaboration who would otherwise not be working together.”

Professor Michael Sharpe of the University of Edinburgh, one of the members of the COMPASS collaborative said: “Even before receiving funding, the preparatory work to establish the COMPASS collaborative has made us think differently about how we work with colleagues in other institutions. Instead of just competing for resources, we are now also sharing them.”

Roger Wilson, Chair of the Consumer Liaison Group NCRI, said: “This is really good news for all people affected by cancer who are keen to see research going into the area of supportive and palliative care as it means so much for patients and their carers.”

Jane Cope, Administrative Director of the NCRI said: “Our initiative has given doctors, nurses and researchers a reason to come together and start sharing their ideas. Experts from different disciplines working together will be able to work on really innovative research programmes and develop the best ways to care for cancer patients.”

National Cancer Director for England and newly appointed chair of the NCRI, Professor Mike Richards, said: “Funding in this way has never before been available in supportive and palliative care and it will give these groups the opportunity to work together to make a real difference to the lives of people affected by cancer”.


For media enquiries please contact Michael Regnier in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8309 or, out of hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264059.


* NCRI Supportive and Palliative Care Research in the UK – 02 August 2004.

About the NCRI:

The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) was established in April 2001. It is a partnership between government, the voluntary sector and the private sector, with the primary mission of maximising patient benefit that accrues from cancer research in the UK through coordination of effort and joint planning towards an integrated national strategy for cancer research.

The NCRI consists of: The Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI); The Association for International Cancer Research; The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Breakthrough Breast Cancer; Breast Cancer Campaign; Cancer Research UK; Department of Health; Economic and Social Research Council; Leukaemia Research Fund; Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Macmillan Cancer Support; Marie Curie Cancer Care; The Medical Research Council; The National Assembly for Wales; Northern Ireland Health and Personal Social Services Research & Development Office; Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation; Scottish Executive Health Department; Tenovus; Wales Office of Research and Development for Health & Social Care; Wellcome Trust; and Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Organisations represented in COMPASS:

University of Edinburgh, Kings College, London, and University of Leeds with their networks of NHS and voluntary sector partners; Worthing and Southlands NHS Trust; and 9 other associated universities.

Organisations represented in CECo:

University of Southampton; University of Manchester; Lancaster University; University of Sheffield; University of Liverpool; NCRI Consumer Liaison Group.

Link to NCRI SuPaC website