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‘Cancer Research UK funds allow us to to answer difficult biological questions’



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Sponsored feature | Cancer Research UK

Around 37,300 people a year are diagnosed with cancer in the East of England – more than 100 people every day. The same amount of people could fill Norwich’s Carrow Road Stadium to 10,000 over its capacity. Research into the best ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease has never been more vital. But it requires funding.

Our pioneering work across the UK, including in East Anglia, benefits from the generosity of supporters leaving a gift to Cancer Research UK in their will. In fact, legacy gifts fund a third of our research.

Dr Ashley Nicholls is a postdoctoral researcher at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. Picture: Laura Ashman/CRUK
Dr Ashley Nicholls is a postdoctoral researcher at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. Picture: Laura Ashman/CRUK

Dr Ashley Nicholls is a postdoctoral researcher at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute – home to many top researchers.

Here, Dr Nicholls talks about his area of cancer research.

“I am currently working on two projects. The first is about breast cancer patients who relapse. I am interested in the reasons why the disease returns five to 10 years after initial treatment in some women. The other project is finding a new drug to treat childhood leukaemia. Our aim is to target the vulnerabilities of cancer cells with drugs so that only the cancer cells are killed, leaving healthy cells unharmed.”

It was an old professor who inspired Dr Nicholls to get into this field.

He says: “I’ve always been interested in science and, after starting an internship at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, I had the privilege of working for a very dedicated professor who was working in the field of cancer treatments.”

In 2020/21, Cancer Research UK spent more than £55m on world-leading research in East Anglia.

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre is a network of leading scientists and doctors from the University of Cambridge, the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and several other organisations, such as the Wellcome Sanger Institute. The centre has expertise in breast, ovarian and prostate cancer, as well as hard-to-treat cancers including brain tumours and oesophageal cancer.

Gifts in wills are vital because they help enable long-term research projects that could ultimately lead to new treatments for cancer. They allow us to keep on making progress and continue to help people live longer, healthier lives for generations to come.

Dr Ashley Nicholls is working on two projects - one is about breast cancer patients who relapse, the other is finding a new drug to treat childhood leukaemia. Picture: Laura Ashman/CRUK
Dr Ashley Nicholls is working on two projects - one is about breast cancer patients who relapse, the other is finding a new drug to treat childhood leukaemia. Picture: Laura Ashman/CRUK

Funding from gifts in wills means a lot to researchers like Dr Nicholls.

“Cancer Research UK funds allow us to use state-of-the-art technology to answer difficult biological questions. It also provides funding to put together teams of experts from around the world with a vast amount of experience, which is vital to the success of large projects which aim to achieve difficult goals to benefit patients worldwide,” he says.

“It makes me feel proud that people are interested in what we do. It also makes us all part of a team, pushing in the same direction. If I was doing something that had little public interest, then I think I would begin to question my purpose. Knowing people are willing to support our work really motivates me to push myself.”

2022 marks 20 years since Cancer Research UK was formed. In that time, we’ve made huge strides together. We’ve come so far. And we will go much further.

Dr Nicholls has high hopes for future cancer treatment: “I hope the recent push for personalised medicine evolves in the field of cancer treatment, enabling the disease to be completely curable or failing that, I would hope that we would be able to manage the disease, enabling people to enjoy a good quality of life well into old age.

“I pledge to turn your commitment into hope for cancer patients.”

One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. Your support can fund the research that will beat it - and 16,832 supporters in East Anglia have pledged to leave a gift in their will to Cancer Research UK. Join with them to help us fund pioneering researchers like Dr Nicholls and make cancer as we know it a thing of the past.

Together we will beat cancer.

To get your free Gifts in Wills guide, visit cruk.org/pledgeeastanglia.



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