Monday, 17 May 2010

Exciting week for Breast Cancer Campaign

Monday morning will see 30 of the top scientists and clinicians working in the breast cancer field debating on the allocation of research grants. Those that make it through to this meeting of our Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) will have already been reviewed by at least two and up to six or seven independent experts in the field from across the UK and as far afield as Houston and Sydney. Those that make it through to this stage are then debated and discussed.

My research colleagues at Campaign and I stand back from this process – a huge amount of work goes into managing the process (all paperless by the way) but we leave it to the experts to decide what is the best research – what will make the greatest impact on people with breast cancer in the future. They then make their recommendations which go forward to the trustee board.

It is obviously nerve-wracking for the applicants but also for us: it is no secret that money is very tight and, as others have cut back, the number of research grants coming to us is increasing and tough decisions have to be made. I wish I had a money tree!

What I find so extraordinary is that these scientists do not get paid anything for reviewing the research; the SAB are rewarded with a night in Travelodge (no criticism of Travelodge but it ain’t the Dorchester) not to forget the pizza dinner. That doesn’t account for the time spent in doing the reviewing – about two hours per grant and each board member could have up to seven or eight to review.

You may wonder why I am harping on about this – it is because I think that so few people outside the research field realise this – it is altruism but also a passion for research and a commitment to changing lives.

There may be even more pressure on charity funded research which is why our election campaign was about the Charity Research Support Fund – our plea to Government – please commit to maintaining this – see my blog Please read on even if politics isn't really your thing – more about that another day.

Tuesday sees our third Scientific Conference – sold out – more about that tomorrow.

P.S. If you wonder what I have been doing since the last blog - my incandescence of rage (if there is such a thing) about the absence of women from the election campaign and after could not be suppressed so I didn’t trust myself to write anything – just focused on the day job!

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