Thursday, 28 May 2009

Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)

The highlight of the week was the meeting of Breast Cancer Campaign’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). It meets twice a year and between the two meetings will recommend grants of about £5.5 million for research into breast cancer across the UK and Ireland. It is a huge responsibility and hundreds of people are involved. Every grant application is reviewed by at least two and sometimes as many as six experts in their field from across the world. Only then does it go through to the SAB for a further review and then the recommendations are made to the Trustees. In any grant round there are literally hundreds of reviewers.

I suppose while the tales of MPs expenses are still reverberating through the airwaves, it is worth noting that the members of the SAB receive no remuneration at all. They are all leaders in their fields, holding down very senior and demanding clinical and scientific posts. I am not sure that you can call the many hours they spend reviewing the grants and attending the meetings a labour of love – but it certainly is a labour of altruism, ensuring that only the best quality research is supported in the interests of women with breast cancer, now and in the future. We do pay their expenses but a night in a Travelodge, some sandwiches at lunch time or, for a two day meeting, a meal in a local pizza restaurant is not exactly an inducement! (And absolutely no disrespect to Travelodge who do a great job – but it isn’t the Dorchester!).

Staff members have no involvement in the decision making, we facilitate the process and members of staff, patient representatives and trustees are able to come in and observe. A very robust and transparent process and I trust that our supporters sleep well knowing how well we look after their money.

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