Almost £8m is being donated to the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre at Nottingham Trent University to support its crucial work into the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The donation is being made by the John and Lucille van Geest Foundation, which helped to establish the research centre with a similar sized gift in 2008.
The money will help fund the leading-edge research taking place at the centre – based at the Clifton Campus in the university’s School of Science and Technology – which is vital to improving our understanding of cancer.
Scientists at the university are working to develop better approaches for identifying the presence, severity and progression of cancer – as well as providing an insight into how patients will respond to certain treatments. A key area of their research is to develop ways to immunise patients against their cancer, in much the same way that we can be protected against tetanus or flu.
Central to all this work is the continued discovery and application of new molecules, or ‘biomarkers’, which can provide important clues about the disease.
The donation will help to fund research scientists, the purchase and maintenance of key pieces of equipment and technology, as well as the centre’s local, national and international clinical and scientific collaborations. A trust, which consists of university nominated trustees, has been set up to manage the donation.
Trustees of the John and Lucille van Geest Foundation will attend a special presentation event at the Clifton Campus on May 1, with representatives from the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre, the university’s senior management team and its board of governors.
“We are extremely grateful for this generous and hugely important donation”, said Professor Robert Rees, the director of Nottingham Trent University’s John van Geest Cancer Research Centre.
He said: “The John and Lucille van Geest Foundation has now donated more than £16m to support cancer research at Nottingham Trent University. These funds will enable the continuing development of ways to diagnose cancer more quickly and accurately, so that the chances of survival are improved.
“It will also support research to help us predict how individuals will respond to treatments, so that more effective options can be used – and help as part of our continued drive to research the development of vaccines which can lead to the targeting and destruction of cancers.”
The associate director of the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre, Professor Graham Pockley, added: “It is clear that cancer is ‘personal’ and that better outcomes will be generated by personalising treatments – our continued identification of biomarkers will support this endeavour.
“Although great progress has already been made, this donation will make possible highly innovative ‘blue sky’ research, which will lead to vital new discoveries.”
The John and Lucille van Geest Foundation has played a key role in funding medical research since it was first established in 1976 as The John van Geest Charitable Fund.