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Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI awards £500,000 grant to Queen’s University for blood cancer research

Northern Ireland’s only charity dedicated to blood cancer research; Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI has just awarded £500,000 research grant to Queen’s University Belfast.

This research award is the second largest gift that the charity has donated to Queen’s Foundation in the last three years, with the previous package of £790,000 gifted in 2017.

Marking the start of Blood Cancer Awareness Month, the announcement of a new four-year package of funding will continue to support and build the blood cancer research network in Belfast. It will ensure the recruitment of a research fellow and a supporting technician who will be based in the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research (PGJCCR). This new funding further builds on the first package which included the recruitment of a Lecturer (Dr Lisa Crawford), two PHD students (Deirdre Venney and Paul Strain) and Clinical Research Fellow (Dr Phil Weir).

Speaking on the importance of the investment, Mr Richard Buchanan, Chairman of Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI, said: “Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI is delighted to be able to make this further commitment to blood cancer research at Queen’s University Belfast, particularly during these extremely challenging times for cancer research. This demonstrates our ongoing commitment to funding the science to beat blood cancer, as well as our support for continuing to attract world class scientists to the blood cancer team at the PGJCCR here in Belfast”.

“We are dedicated to investing in local research and this investment further bridges the link between bench and bedside, as our research group is in a unique position. Their proximity and relationship with the team in Belfast City Hospital and the Northern Ireland Biobank brings the patient closer to the research. The use of samples and trial data is vital in making our research more robust whilst keeping the patient at the heart of the work we do.”

Leading the research team, Professor Ken Mills, Chair of Experimental Haematology at Queen’s University Belfast said: “Queen’s and Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI have a longstanding relationship which has had a hugely beneficial impact on those living with blood cancer here in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

“This latest funding will provide additional support for the important work of my research group – which has grown considerably thanks to previous investment by the charity – and will, I have no doubt, deliver much improved outcomes for patients.”

Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University, said: "We at Queen's are delighted to welcome this further investment from Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI. This grant will enable our world-class research team, led by Professor Mills, to positively impact patient care, both locally and globally by discovering new and better ways of diagnosing and treating blood cancer."

Every month, approximately 100 people are diagnosed with blood cancer in Northern Ireland. One in every four people diagnosed will not survive. The charity knows first-hand how destructive a blood cancer diagnosis can be and has invested over £13 million to this life-saving research since its establishment in 1964.

As Patron of Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI, Ken Reid said: “Receiving a blood cancer diagnosis is a frightening event that changes your life and that of your family forever. This significant gift from our Charity to Queen’s University is an investment in hope for the future for all patients like me who are suffering from Leukaemia and other blood cancers. It is reassuring to know that it will be used to support research being carried out in Northern Ireland which will benefit people here and further afield.”

“As we mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September, we can take a short time to focus on those suffering from the conditions and the tireless efforts to beat blood cancer through research. I and others benefit from clinical trials which give us a better quality of and longer life to share with our families and loved ones.”

“This September we are still in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic which has changed all of our lives. It has also meant that our Charity, Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI, has had to change all the activities it had planned to do to raise the much-needed funds to support research. The efforts have mostly had to become virtual. Our work is too important to allow Covid-19 to beat us. Therefore, we will be having the Big Red Tea Party, marathons, parachute jumps as well as sponsored walks and many other activities that people can continue to contribute to.”

Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI is dedicated to blood cancer research. Our mission is to improve survival rates and quality of life for all blood cancer patients by supporting clinicians, scientists and students researching these diseases.

To find out more about the work of the charity and how to get involved, please contact Joanne Badger, Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI Co-ordinator at info@llni.co.uk or visit www.llni.org.u

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