With over 60 applicants from scientists all over the UK for our first ever Research Innovation Awards, Deputy Director of Research Dr Matthew Hobbs explains the pressures and difficulties of deciding which projects to give the £2.6 million of funding and why he hopes to do even better next year.
When we set out our new strategy to tame prostate cancer in the next decade, we committed to funding the most promising and game-changing research.
Progress in scientific research comes from building on what has gone before and taking it a step further. As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
While this approach is important to advance our knowledge and invest our money in the right way, it's crucial that we do not miss out on inspired, innovative ideas that could transform the way we treat, diagnose and prevent prostate cancer.
I was really impressed by the ambition shown in the over 60 applications we received
Last year we opened applications for our first Research Innovation Awards, asking scientists to bring us something we hadn’t seen before and they exceeded our expectations. It’s always nerve-wracking when you launch a new research scheme – how will scientists respond, will we get enough applications, will any of them have the X-factor?
I thought the response was phenomenal and I was really impressed by the ambition shown in the over 60 applications we received. All of these were reviewed by our panel of judges for their promise and quality, before the best were selected for funding.
I was really pleased to see that there were so many innovative ideas for new treatments and preventing prostate cancer from returning. We badly need more effective, tailored treatments for men with prostate cancer, and these fresh approaches might be just the ticket.
Knowing we're missing out on research that could make a difference is a difficult part of the job. We want to make sure that next year we can fund all of the best projects
We were able to fund these eight projects thanks to the generous donations from our supporters. However, there were other good applications we weren't able to fund.
Knowing that we are missing out on research that could make a difference is a difficult part of the job. We want to make sure that next year we can fund all of the best projects. To do that, and to tame prostate cancer in ten years, we need to raise more than we ever have before (find out how you can help).
Funding game-changing research projects like these are what Prostate Cancer UK and our new strategy are all about. These projects will spur innovation in the field, they will help us to plan our longer-term, larger investments and – ultimately – they will help us to stop prostate cancer from killing so many men each year.