60 second interview with Stuart Griffiths

Dr Stuart Griffiths recently joined the NCRI as Head of Strategy & Initiatives. In our latest 60 second interview, Stuart tells us what he will be doing at the NCRI and a bit about his background.

What were you doing before joining the NCRI?
I am on secondment from Breast Cancer Now where I was working to create the new charity following the merger between Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Specifically I worked across the organisation and the Board of Trustees to develop our organisational and research strategies. As part of this work I led a project called the ‘Big Breast Cancer Conversation’ to gather insight from people affected by breast cancer and our supporters across the UK  to ensure they were listened to in our new strategy.

What attracted you to the NCRI?
I’ve known and been involved with the NCRI for a long time and have been impressed at what can be achieved when we, the cancer research funders, work in collaboration. Having spent time developing a new strategy for Breast Cancer Now, I was drawn to the idea of implementing a different type of strategy at the NCRI. The new NCRI Partnership strategy, launching soon, has some unique challenges and opportunities that really captured my imagination. It’s also an interesting time for the NCRI as it becomes a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. The opportunity to help shape the NCRI as it develops is a privilege. Finally, and most importantly, the NCRI ensures that people affected by cancer improve the work we are doing, and this is vital to give any research effort the best possible chance of impacting patients.

Tell us a little more about your role?
As Head of Strategy and Initiatives I have three main duties. Firstly, I lead a fantastic team who work to ensure the Partnership can understand the cancer research landscape and we look for gaps and opportunities. The team scope out possible new initiatives to address the issues identified and, where it is clear that a collaborative approach across the Partnership will add value, the team will run the initiatives. Secondly, I am supporting the NCRI Executive to play our part in implementing the new NCRI strategy. And finally, I work with the other Heads and the Director of the NCRI as part of the senior management to lead the charity.

What have you enjoyed working on so far?
Where to start! It’s only been six weeks and I am enjoying the huge variety of strategic issues my role throws up! From working with CM-Path to reinvigorate academic pathology, which is vital for cancer research, to looking at how the NCRI might support some of the Cancer Taskforce Research Recommendations.  In the same day I can be thinking about the best way to set priorities for research around ‘living with and beyond cancer’ and working out how the NCRI Executive might best provide a forum to the Partners to discuss the research policy landscape.

What are you looking forward to working on in the next 6 months?
We have a new ‘living with and beyond cancer’ initiative that will be listening to patients to help identify the priorities for research in this area. Now that we’re able to extend lives through successes in treatments we need to ensure that people can live well, so I am very much looking forward to this initiative that will put patients at the heart of our research priorities in this area.  We are also testing out new ways to assess the cancer research landscape – the first step in any strategic thinking is to be clear on the current situation, so this is fundamental to the work of my team.

How do you see NCRI developing in the next 12 months?
We are about to publish a new strategy that will start the next five-year cycle of the NCRI. We will be looking closely at how we can best implement the strategy, and build on the NCRI Partnership’s major strength – collaborating to accelerate progress in cancer research.