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Discovery Club members supporting the next generation of cancer researchers

Members of The Discovery Club at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, met with PhD students last month to learn how they hope their research will transform the lives of cancer patients in the future.

PhD student Jacqueline Fok, pictured with Academic Dean Claire Isacke, talks about her learning experience at the ICR (Discovery Club, March 2015)

The event was held on 25 February at the ICR’s laboratories in Chelsea and was hosted by Professor Clare Isacke, Academic Dean of the ICR.

PhD students Jacqueline Fok, Emily Wholey, Nicholas Firth and Dr Sally George – a clinical fellow – gave strong and passionate speeches on their research and their hopes for the future. 

Students play an essential role in research at the ICR. Each student undertakes a real research project which has been identified by their supervisor as an important line of inquiry for their research group. This means that at the same time as developing their skills, students are creating new scientific knowledge and are contributing directly to the ICR’s mission – to make the discoveries that defeat cancer.

Training the next generation of cancer researchers is a fundamental part of our mission, and the ICR is fortunate to have the support of Discovery Club members who make an annual philanthropic investment to the ICR’s work. Fully funded PhD studentships form one of our fundraising priorities for 2015 to ensure we attract the highest-calibre graduate students and safeguard the breadth and quality of cancer research for patient benefit. 

The ICR’s Chairman Luke Johnson funded two studentships in 2014. Under the Chairman’s Studentship Award, Douglas Perkins started his PhD in October 2014. Supervised by Professor Clare Isacke, he is investing therapeutic resistance in breast cancers that have spread. Jonathan Pettinger, the second recipient of the Chairman’s Studentship Award, is designing irreversible inhibitors for a protein called Hsp70. 

Philanthropists Justin and Lucy Bull funded student Chloe Simpson under The Bull Studentship Award. Chloe is studying the signalling networks that regulate the shape of melanoma cells and how it spreads to other parts of the body. Dr Sally George is funded by Christopher’s Smile, a charitable trust set up in memory of Christopher Capel, a little boy who died of medullolastoma at just five years old. 

Philanthropic investment in the next generation of cancer researchers is essential to the future of cancer research. 

Lucy Bull said: “PhD students form the bedrock of the ICR’s research capacity, and we learnt that funding for studentships can be hard to secure. By supporting a doctoral student, we are investing in the next generation of cancer researchers.” 

Lara Jukes, Director of Development, said: “We are extremely grateful to our members of The Discovery Club for their ongoing support towards our research. 

“The evening was a huge success and I am very proud of our PhD students who gave such knowledgeable and passionate presentations. With these bright minds leading tomorrow’s discoveries, we can be confident in a future full of scientific discovery with better outcomes for patients.”

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