Dr Ciaran Fairmichael win’s first prize for SPORT study presentation

Dr Ciaran Fairmichael

The Queen’s University School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences Postgraduate Research Forum was on 9th November at Riddel Hall. The early results from the SPORT trial were presented by Dr Ciaran Fairmichael as a poster which was selected for oral presentation and went on to win 1st prize. The poster describes the early results from the trial which is co-ordinated by the NICTN. The results presented suggest there is benefit in combining stereotactic prostate radiotherapy, a technique that allows delivery of prostate radiotherapy in only 5 treatments instead of the usual 20-37 days of treatment, with an injected spacer gel to protect the lower bowel. Translational work within the trial looking at blood biomarkers to test for early signs of radiation toxicity was also presented.

Congratulations Ciaran!

Ed Goodall reports from ESMO

Dr. Ed Goodall

Northern Ireland Cancer Research Forum (NICRCF) member, Ed Goodall, was elected in 2018 to the Patient Advisory Committee (PAC) of the Europacolon organisation which incorporates researchers and healthcare professionals from nearly 40 countries. They held their recent October meeting in Munich in conjunction with ESMO (The European Society for Medical Oncology) at the MesseGrande Conference Centre, constructed on the site of the old Oberwiesenfeld airport.

Angel of Peace


A main focus of the meeting was the strategic use of Biosimilars which companies are allowed to make when the patent of the original medicine expires. They are usually able to produce and sell the Biosimilar more cheaply than the original reference medicines. Thus, they are appealing for Healthcare systems and may help to improve access to important medicines for cancer patients and, in particular, for those with metastatic colorectal cancer. A further important discussion concentrated on a strategic policy in Europe for routine screening and the optimal age at which it should be offered. The consensus appeared to be at 50 years of age and supported by more informative publicity campaigns which had been successful in some EC countries. In conclusion, Ed Goodall commented, ‘I left Munich, its Chocolate Box Centre dominated by the golden statuette of the Angel of Peace pointing heavenwards, buzzing with new ideas and inspired to renew efforts to finally defeat our old enemy, cancer.’



Belfast Top UK Recruiter to DARS

Belfast Trust was the top UK recruiter to DARS (A phase III randomised multicentre study of dysphagia optimised intensity modulated radiotherapy (DoIMRT) versus standard intensity modulated radiotherapy (SIMRT) in head and neck cancer.)  Belfast recruitment was above the original local target and the site was commended by the study co-ordinator.  Dr Keith Rooney, the local Principal Investigator, acknowledged how excellent team work had contributed to local success.  We wish to thank all the patients taking part in this study.

Karen Parsons – Finalist – RCNi Excellence in Cancer Research Award – London

Karen Parsons – Finalist RCNi Excellence in Cancer Research Award, London 04 July 2018

The NICTN team and other colleagues congratulated Karen Parsons on her success, reaching the final of the 2018 RCNi Nursing Awards. Karen was one of just five UK finalists in the Excellence in Cancer Research Award category, sponsored by Cancer Research UK. The ceremony was held in the Westminster Park Plaza Hotel in London 04 July 2018.  The event was a celebration of excellence in nursing across a range of healthcare settings and gave recognition to the amazing work of individuals and teams.

The RCNi summarised Karen’s Prostate Cancer UK funded project achievement: ‘Karen conducted a pilot project integrating holistic needs assessments (HNAs) into the role of cancer research nurses when they become the key workers for prostate cancer patients participating in clinical trials. The HNA includes assessment of physical, practical, family/relationship, emotional, spiritual/religious concerns and lifestyle or information needs. The process includes continence and erectile dysfunction assessment, and development of appropriate care plans and referral. As well as ensuring seamless patient care, a care plan is devised with the patient agreeing the best way to manage concerns or appropriate referrals are made. Positive feedback indicates high levels of satisfaction with information, contact, treatment and support.’

Ruth Boyd, Cancer Research UK Senior Nurse in NI, also attended the awards, and was privileged to present the award to the winner of the Excellence in Cancer Research Award category.

Karen Parsons (Finalist) and Ruth Boyd – RCNi Nurse Awards, London 04 July 2018

NICTN BIG Thank You for Q Radiothon Big Brunch Support

NICTN and Q Radio team – NICTN Big Brunch, NI Cancer Centre 30 May 2018

Staff from the NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) at the NI Cancer Centre send a BIG thank you to all the staff, patients and visitors who supported their Q Radiothon Big Brunch, 30 May 2018. A total of £566 was raised towards Friends of the Cancer Centre, Action Cancer, Marie Curie and the Cancer Fund for Children.  Adding to the fun atmosphere there was a live Q Radio broadcast by presenter Errol Doherty who interviewed staff.  Lots of goodies had been baked by staff and NICTN also wish to thank the many businesses who donated supplies for the event: Doorsteps, Lisburn Road, Windsor Co-op, Johnsons Coffee, Genesis and Brew Coffee Shop, Moy.

NICTN team members at the Cancer Centre Foyer Q Radiothon NICTN Big Brunch 30 May 2018

A Celebration of International Clinical Trials Day 2018

To celebrate International Clinical Trials Day (ICTD) members of the NI Cancer Trials Network, the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (Mrs Margaret Grayson and Dr Ed Goodall) and the Cancer Research UK Research Engagement Manager provided clinical trial information in the Cancer Centre foyer 18 May 2018.  Once again patients, visitors, researchers and funders at the event showed unreserved support for cancer clinical trials.  This year, to coincide with ICTD the HSC R&D Division distributed the ‘I Am Research’ leaflet, promoting the campaign ‘to shout about how fantastic research is…to raise awareness of the benefits of research and the positive impact it has on people’s lives.’  The range of support in the Cancer Centre illustrated just part of the vast tapestry of involvement in clinical research and the cancer patient pathway.  NICTN, patients and charities were joined by QUB researchers and an array of staff in the Cancer Centre including Oncologists, Nurses, Radiographers, Medical Physicists, Domestic Services and Medical and Nursing students (see photos).  Photos International Clinical Trials Day NI Cancer Centre 18 May 18


Congratulations to Margaret Grayson and Lynette McHendry – MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours List!

The NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (NICRCF) and NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) warmly congratulate Margaret Grayson and Lynette McHendry on their Queen’s Birthday Honours.  Forum members, staff and the wider cancer research community are delighted by the news and recognition of their extraordinary achievements.  Typical reactions have been ‘Fabulous news, so well deserved’, ‘Two amazing and inspirational women. Many congratulations to both!’

Margaret Grayson, NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (NICRCF) Chairperson, has been awarded an MBE for services to cancer research in NI. Margaret is a trailblazer in Personal and Public Involvement (PPI) in cancer research in NI.  Chairperson since the NICRCF was established in 2011, her exemplary leadership and passionate advocacy for PPI in cancer research has been instrumental is creating a culture change of partnership working.  In NI and beyond Margaret works enthusiastically with researchers and other PPI representatives influencing cancer research and PPI.  Margaret is a valued member of many groups including HSC R&D Public Involvement Enhancing Research, several Cancer Research UK advisory panels, National Cancer Research Institute Consumer Involvement Steering Group, Independent Cancer Patients’ Voice and use MY data.   A frequent guest speaker, PPI workshop facilitator and member of many study/project committees and research steering groups, Margaret’s energetic and constructive approach always brings fresh insight and maximises patient benefit. NICRCF members and staff have enormous admiration for Margaret and universally acknowledge how deserving this award is and how fortunate we all are to work with this wonderful friend and colleague!

NICRCF member Lynette McHendry, fundraiser and educator, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, has been awarded an MBE for services to women in the UK with breast cancer.

Following a diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2015, Lynette set about a campaign to raise awareness of symptoms and raise money for research into Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  Lynette says ‘At every opportunity I tell people about Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I don’t refer to it as Breast Cancer as I want every women to know of the very different symptoms than a lump.’  Read more about Lynette’s story here: Lynette McHendry’s Story June 2018.  Lynette is an inspiration and support to so many.  Her amazing achievements in education and fundraising are a testament to her passion and determination.


Both Margaret and Lynette are most deserving of these awards and all who know them are delighted they have received recognition for their wonderful work and service!

Congratulations to Margaret Grayson – Recipient of the 2018 Iris Colvin Lifetime Achievement Award for Health

Margaret Grayson received the Iris Colvin Lifetime Achievement Award for Health, presented by the Women’s Forum NI on 21 April 2018 at Belfast City Hall. She is warmly congratulated by her friends and colleagues from the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum, NICTN and others within the HSC and beyond.  The award acknowledges Margaret’s exemplary leadership and care for cancer patients.  During her career as a Therapy Radiographer, Margaret developed the role of Information and Support Radiographer and won UK Radiographer of the Year in 2004.  Following a breast cancer diagnosis in 2004, and retirement in 2010, Margaret has continued to be an energetic advocate for patients through her role as Personal and Public Involvement Representative in cancer research both locally and nationally, including NICRCF Chairperson since 2011.  In 2016 she received a special commendation in the Cancer Research UK Flame of Hope ‘Research Engagement Award’ category. Margaret is a very deserving recipient of this lifetime acheivement award and all who know her are delighted she has received this recognition for her work.

Survey and Focus Group Results – PPI in Cancer Research in NI

Thank you to all those involved in cancer research in NI and members of the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (NICRCF) who participated in a Survey and Focus Group on Personal and Public Involvement (PPI) in research. The Survey was undertaken to:

  • Evaluate the existing experience of PPI in cancer research in NI from a stakeholder perspective
  • Evaluate if PPI objectives and standards are being met
  • Identify areas for further development and gather recommendations to help inform a new cancer research PPI strategy

The results are published here PPI in Cancer Research in NI NICTN_NICRCF Survey and Focus Group Results Final v26.03.18 and demonstrate an overwhelming endorsement of the value of PPI and the NICRCF. As one researcher remarked ‘I cannot describe the input of the Forum more highly. They are a dedicated bunch who give depth and clinical relevance to research. What they have taught me about research….no book or lecture ever could.’

A summary of Future Recommendations are:

  1. Provide dedicated PPI funding and expenses processes
  2. Enhance PPI support structures
  3. Expand PPI Representative numbers and networking
  4. Enhance training
  5. Raise researcher and public PPI awareness
  6. Increase PPI opportunities
  7. Share PPI impact

The strategy for PPI in Cancer Research in NI will be renewed, informed by the Survey and Focus Group results.

Belfast Showcase at ECMC North Event

The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) Network is dedicated to supporting pioneering, early-stage clinical trials and translation of scientific discoveries into new cancer treatments for patients. Belfast ECMC is a collaboration across NICTN, the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, QUB, and the NI Biobank. Scientists, doctors, nurses and patient representatives from six centres (Belfast, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield) attended an ‘ECMC North Showcase’ in Newcastle-upon-Tyne 15 March 2018.  The aim was to share research and promote collaboration across the network.

Belfast ECMC speakers included Professor Richard Wilson, who kicked-off the presentations by senior investigators describing a phase I trial of 5-FU and CV6-168, currently in development.

Professor Richard Wilson, ECMC North Showcase, 15 March 2018

Dr Eileen Parkes presented her research on the biology underpinning the DNA Damage Response Deficiency (DDRD) assay, developed by QUB and Almac Diagnostics, and Dr Philip Dunne described how ‘Intra-tumoural stromal heterogeneity undermines colorectal cancer transcriptional classification’. Belfast poster presentations were by Dr Suneil Jain and Professor Daniel Longley.  The event was very successful and a useful collaborative and networking opportunity for all involved.

Belfast ECMC is one of 18 adult centres across the UK. It is funded by HSC R&D Division and Cancer Research UK.

Networking Photos from ECMC North Newcastle 15.03.18