Childhood cancer experts at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Children’s Hospital have joined leading health charity the Azalia Foundation to launch two new PhD programmes.
The Azaylia Childhood Cancer PhD Fund aims to help create the next generation of leaders in childhood cancer by offering fully funded PhDs in paediatric oncology, in partnership with leading UK universities and hospitals.
The charity has committed over £280,000 to co-fund the first two PhD candidates in Birmingham and plans to help fund up to 10 PhDs across the UK within two years.
This means that young doctors in training to become clinical paediatric oncologists now have the resources to support further research in helping them answer the questions about why cancer in children happens and how treatments can be improved, so that in turn we can improve survival.”Pamela Kearns - Professor of Clinical Paediatric Oncology, University of Birmingham and Honorary Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital
Pamela Kearns, Professor of Clinical Paediatric Oncology at the University of Birmingham and an Honorary Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, commented: “Parents want to know, ‘why did my child get cancer?’ and ‘can you cure my child?’. To answer these questions we need to undertake much more research, which is why we are so grateful to The Azaylia Foundation for co-funding our clinical PhD programme.
“This means that young doctors in training to become clinical paediatric oncologists now have the resources to support further research in helping them answer the questions about why cancer in children happens and how treatments can be improved, so that in turn we can improve survival.”
Childhood Cancer is the NUMBER ONE killer of children under 15 in the UK, with five new cases diagnosed every day and four deaths a week. Yet, despite these shocking statistics, childhood cancer receives less than 3% of cancer research funding and survival rates for some childhood cancers have failed to improve significantly in the past decades.
The most common treatments are intended for adults, so too toxic for children and often cause long term damage. Investing in the most talented clinicians nationwide gives them the opportunity to pursue ground-breaking research into new and gentler treatments for childhood cancer.
Dr Anindita Roy, Associate Professor of Paediatric Haematology at the University of Oxford and a trustee for the Azalia Foundation, commented: “The biggest challenges standing in the way of treating childhood cancer safely, and improving survival rates, are inadequate investment in childhood cancer research, especially novel discovery research and fragmented expertise.
“Even more rare are clinician scientists - those who have seen first-hand the devastating realities faced by young cancer patients - being enabled to take their insights and ideas into the laboratory and then back into clinical practice. This must change and the Azaylia Childhood Cancer PhD Fund is a hugely positive step in facilitating this change.”