Highlights from the 2016 NCRI Winter Meeting, Thursday 21 January 2016, London
The 2016 NCRI Winter Meeting brought together NCRI Trustees, senior representatives from NCRI Partner organisations, industry stakeholders, patient representatives (also known as ‘consumers’ within NCRI), and other key stakeholders in the field of cancer research. It is one of two annual meetings that provide people the opportunity to catch-up on NCRI’s work and steer the future direction through shared insights and ideas. This meeting focused on NCRI’s core activities – those that help us to form the ‘big picture’ of UK cancer research; our Clinical Studies Groups (CSGs), Cancer Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) Group, the NCRI Cancer Conference and CaRD, our cancer research database.
The full-day meeting had a packed agenda that also included guest speakers Steven Wooding from RAND Europe, Sean Duffy from NHS England, Virginia Acha from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Company (ABPI), Richard Stephens, NCRI Consumer Lead and Emma Greenwood, Head of Policy Development at Cancer Research UK. They updated attendees on current issues and trends within cancer and the wider field of research; from industry and consumer insights, to updates on implementing the Cancer Taskforce recommendations and some top lessons for making research funding decisions. Cancer Research UK and Breast Cancer Now also shared insights into their research strategies. The meeting was chaired by NCRI Chair, Delyth Morgan.
Read on for highlights of the meeting.
NCRI core activities
NCRI’s four core activities are long-standing and central to our purpose of promoting collaboration in cancer research to enable faster progress for the benefit of patients and the public. Each core activity coordinates a range of people and insights and enables us to gain strategic oversight in order to support cancer research in the UK. A summary of core activity updates discussed at the meeting are below.
NCRI Clinical Studies Groups (CSGs): taking strategic oversight of and supporting the national portfolio of cancer clinical studies
NCRI Cancer Clinical Trials Units (CTU) Group: coordinated sharing of expertise to advance the design and delivery of clinical trials
The NCRI Cancer Conference: bringing the cancer research community together to share ideas, develop collaborations and be inspired by the latest UK and international research
The NCRI Cancer Research Database (CaRD): tracking how funding for cancer research changes over time to identify trends and gaps
Key issues and trends within cancer research and beyond
In addition to updates and discussions around our core activities, the 2016 NCRI Winter Meeting provided an opportunity for guest speakers to update attendees on current issues and trends within cancer and the wider field of research. A summary of these presentations is given below.
Eight lessons in science funding
Steven Wooding, Senior Research Leader at RAND Europe (a not-for-profit research institute who undertake research and analyses projects to better understand and improve policy and decision-making in a number of areas) presented an overview of their recently published report, A ‘DECISIVE’ approach to research funding: Lessons from three Retrosight studies. It draws on the findings of three RAND Europe studies to outline key observations and recommendations for policymakers and research funders to maximise the impact of biomedical and health research funding, many of which may be relevant to cancer research.
Perspectives from consumers and industry
Consumer and industry representatives are key NCRI stakeholders – ensuring expertise and perspectives are shared across the breadth of the research community. Richard Stephens, NCRI’s Consumer Lead, updated meeting attendees on the latest work of the NCRI Consumer Forum. This included a successful Dragon’s Den event and research poster presentations at the 2015 NCRI Cancer Conference. Virginia Acha, ABPI’s Executive Director – Research Medical and Innovation Insights, provided an update on some of the upcoming areas of focus for the ABPI, including: work with the Health Research Authority on a single approval process for clinical trials; opening dialogue with relevant stakeholders around issues with insurance (e.g. travel insurance) for patients participating in clinical trials; considering evolving science and technologies and the impact on clinical trial design and regulation.
The Independent Cancer Taskforce, established in January 2015 by NHS England to develop a five-year strategy for cancer services, published its report Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: a strategy for England 2015-2020 last July. It sets out 96 recommendations for improving cancer outcomes. The important role that research has to play featured strongly in the report and Sean Duffy, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, joined meeting attendees to discuss ways that NCRI are working with Partners, NHS England and the wider research community to drive the relevant recommendations forward. NCRI will be further scoping out the recommendations in the coming months and working with stakeholders to identify next steps.
In November last year the government announced a Spending Review setting out how £4 trillion of government money will be allocated over the next five years. This has implications for many key areas, including health and research. Emma Greenwood, Head of Policy Development at Cancer Research UK, outlined the implications of this on cancer research (Cancer Research UK have previously blogged about the Spending Review – see link below). In summary, it presented a mixed picture for cancer, with protected or increased budgets for health and science but local services delivering public health being required to make savings. For NCRI it will be important to understand how the review impacts on cancer research as further details emerge.
Taking NCRI in to the next decade
NCRI will soon kick-off the process of developing its next five-year strategy, 2017–2022, and meeting attendees discussed the process. Over the next year the NCRI Executive will, in consultation with representatives from NCRI Partner organisations, NCRI Trustees and key stakeholders, look at how we can achieve most impact and develop a strategy that has defined outcomes and measures of success.