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Brain Tumour Research Initiative provides new funding for research in Wales

Dr James Powell is on the left and Dr Florian Siebzehnrubl is on the right.

3 May 2024

Dr James Powell, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Velindre Cancer Centre and Clinical Academic at the Wales Cancer Research Centre (WCRC), has been appointed Clinical Lead for the Brain Tumour Research Initiative (BATRI), a new brain tumour research fund established by Cancer Research Wales.

The scientific lead for the BATRI is Dr Florian Siebzehnrubl, Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University and Deputy Director of the European Stem Cell Institute.

A first for Wales, the BATRI aims to bring together academic and clinical leaders to develop and build a thriving critical mass of brain tumour research in Wales.

Dr James Powell said:

“I am proud to be leading on this fantastic national initiative which will enable us to develop new and innovative brain tumour research in Wales, which we hope will support better outcomes for patients with brain tumours.

 “Every year in Wales, more than 400 people develop a brain tumour but unfortunately very few new treatments for brain tumours have been developed in the last 40 years.

“With this significant support from Cancer Research Wales, we now have critical new, sustainable funding to put brain tumour research on a national footing and really make progress.” 

Brain tumour research has been historically underfunded, receiving less than 2% of annual cancer research funding in the UK.

Cancer Research Wales will give the BATRI £1m each year for the next three years. For 2023-2024 there will be one funding call, but eventually, funding calls will open twice a year, inviting applications from researchers with new and innovative brain tumour research proposals.

Dr Lee Campbell, Head of Research at Cancer Research Wales said:

“As Wales' only independent cancer research charity, Cancer Research Wales, is proud to set up this important research initiative that has strategic significance for all of Wales.  

"Our long-term investment in brain tumour research will ensure that the talented clinicians and scientists we have working in the area will receive the necessary resources to make a difference.  

"We hope this will lead to a better understanding of the disease which will translate into new treatments and therapeutic strategies to improve outcomes for brain tumour patients in Wales and further afield.”

Dr Kathy Seddon, WCRC Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Research Partner, has also been involved with the launch of BATRI as a PPI contributor, said:

“I am delighted with the news about the Brain Tumour Research Initiative as my late husband died from a brain tumour. Cancer Research Wales are really making a huge difference to our knowledge and understanding in this area. It is an honour to be part of the steering group for this initiative as a PPI contributor and a member of the WCRC Multi-Disciplinary Research Group for brain cancer.”

Alongside his role at Velindre, Dr Powell is also a clinical academic in radiotherapy funded by the Wales Cancer Research Centre and currently co-leads the Centre’s Multi Disciplinary Research Group (MDRG) for brain cancer with Dr Florian Siebzehnrubl, which brings together specialists to discuss and collaborate on research ideas that align with the All-Wales Cancer Research Strategy (CReSt).

Dr James Powell said:

“The Brain Tumour Research Initiative builds on the success of the MDRG by taking a national, strategic and coordinated approach to areas of priority for brain tumour research, and then providing funding for projects that tackle these priorities.  

“We are very excited by this initiative and hope this new funding will provide real opportunities and support for researchers in Wales to develop their research programmes and become world leaders in the field of brain tumour research.” 

Dr Florian Siebzehnrubl, co-lead of the MDRG for brain cancer and deputy director of Cardiff University’s European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute said:

“The strong support from WCRC for the brain cancer MDRG helped bring together clinicians and researchers willing to tackle the most challenging problems in brain cancer. 

 “The continuing growth of brain cancer research over the last few years is a tremendous success for the MDRG and the sustainable funding from BATRI will now support new brain cancer research across Wales that will ultimately improve outcomes for patients.”

Velindre University NHS Trust, Unit 2,Charnwood Court, Parc Nantgarw, Nantgarw, Cardiff, CF15 7QZ
Tel: 029 2019 6161