Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now
  • For Supporters

Science meets business with leadership coaching for our cancer research stars

The Cancer Research UK logo
by Cancer Research UK | Philanthropy and partnerships

23 July 2020

0 comments 0 comments

Image of Amit Roshan
Dr Amit Roshan is part of the first cohort of Cancer Research UK-funded scientists feeling the benefits of the coaching programme

Cancer Research UK’s Dr Amit Roshan explains how a new leadership coaching programme offered pro bono by one of our warmest supporters has allowed him to take his leadership skills in the field of cancer early detection to the next level.

Cultivating the next generation of scientific leaders is a major weapon in our cancer-beating arsenal. Through our Future Leaders programme, we offer a broad range of funding schemes to cater to all stages of a researcher’s career, from PhD programmes for recent graduates to fellowships for established scientists looking to develop their own research groups.

And last year, one of our philanthropic supporters, Ann Orton, a faculty member at executive coach training firm Meyler Campbell, helped establish a new pro bono coaching programme to allow our scientists to develop the leadership skills they’ll need to become the science leaders of the future. This programme matches scientists with senior business leaders who are developing their coaching skills through Mastered, Meyler Campbell’s respected year-long business coaching programme. 

I support Cancer Research UK because I’d like to see a future where cancers are caught earlier so that fewer people have to endure invasive treatments with potential long-term side effects,” says Ann. “To do this, the world needs exceptional scientists who can lead teams and drive forward innovative research. At Meyler Campbell, we’re incredibly proud to be part of this effort through coaching provided by our Mastered participants.”

Dr Amit Roshan is part of the first cohort to benefit from the programme. A Cancer Research UK-funded clinician scientist based at our Cambridge Institute, Amit plays a vital role in driving the development of discoveries in the lab into new treatments and tests for people with cancer. Acting as a bridge between laboratory research and the clinic, clinician scientists like Amit see the challenges in treating and caring for people with cancer first hand, which motivates and informs their research.

“At first, I was sceptical of the value of one-to-one coaching,” Amit admits. “I was curious to see how a coach with little prior experience with healthcare or academia could help me with my long-term goals.”

But he now says these concerns were “unfounded” and that there is a tendency within his field to overlook important non-academic skills. “The coaching has allowed me to recognise and develop leadership and organisational skills that will be instrumental to further progress in my field,” he explains. “Discussing these goals with someone outside of my immediate circle of research mentors was not the obvious way to develop as a clinician scientist but it has been very valuable.”

So, would he now recommend the coaching to a colleague?

“Yes, absolutely,” Amit says. “It’s a fantastic opportunity that all fellows should be offered. I found it particularly useful when I was beginning to develop diverse research teams. The ability to take stock of certain situations with a coach meant I could identify challenges and opportunities early.”

Amit works with melanoma patients and is developing methods to detect the disease at the earliest stages – when surgery can be curative and the positive health impact for patients is the largest – along with the Rosenfeld Group at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. As part of this initiative, he is building teams at the hospital and the university in collaboration with international and commercial partners, to develop a simple blood test to detect early-stage melanomas that are currently undetectable by any other means. Excitingly, the Rosenfeld Group has recently published findings that show the blood test can be 10 times more effective than current methods. The test is now being validated in hospital patients.

As for Ann, she is now supporting Cancer Research UK via our urgent appeal to get cancer research back on track following the COVID-19 outbreak. We’re facing a 30-35% decline in income this financial year – approximately £160m. CRUK funds approximately 50% of all cancer research in the UK, and although we have done all we can to reduce operational costs, we’ve been forced to cut research funding by £44m and may need to make further, deeper cuts.

“No other UK charity or government department is set up to deliver what Cancer Research UK can,” Ann says. “If they can’t deliver this research, no one else will. The charity needs our help to protect progress already made and enable future breakthroughs. If we don’t act now, we risk a lasting and significant impact on this pioneering research.”

To learn more about Meyler Campbell and the Mastered programme, click here

– by Kat Hattersley Greenish, senior philanthropy manager, and Joanna Lewin, philanthropy communications manager and editor