60-second interview with NCRI Director, Dr Karen Kennedy









Last year was Karen’s first Conference as NCRI Director. Now, a year in to the role we ask her how it’s going so far and what she’s most looking forward to at this year’s Conference.


How have you found your first year in post?
It’s been a busy and very interesting year. I’ve been getting to know our Partner organisations – and others we work with closely. So, there have been a lot of meetings and discussions about what we’re doing now, what we want to achieve together in the future and how we’re going to do that. It’s great to see such a strong commitment to partnership working, especially in a field like cancer where there are many organisations working hard to make a difference – only by working together can we ensure that progress will be made faster.


What has been the biggest challenge of the role so far?
Our partner organisations span the entire spectrum of cancer research – from basic, to translational, clinical and supportive care; and they span charity, government and industry sectors. So there’s an inherent challenge in balancing different perspectives. But that is what the NCRI does and a big part of my role and the team’s role is to encourage a forum for rich debate and open up opportunities to collaborate in areas of common interest. It is challenging, but also rewarding as diversity is such a good thing – as it brings different perspectives on how to tackle barriers to cancer research.


What have been the key lessons so far?
Cancer research has benefited from a strong commitment to working in partnership across organisations, across research institutes, and with the active involvement of patients and carers. There’s been considerable progress, and there could be a temptation to say that cancer has been done and we have to move on to other areas. But keeping the momentum going is vital to ensure patients can benefit from research advances that will help them to overcome this complex disease.


What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Conference?
I want to make it along to the 10th Conference celebratory talks – it will be an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of some key areas of cancer research; learning about the progress made so far and the possibilities that lie ahead.  I’m also looking forward to catching up with colleagues and having some inspiring discussions about how we can continue to progress cancer research over the next ten years.


The 10th NCRI Cancer Conference is taking place on 2–5 November in Liverpool, UK. For more information visit the Conference website or follow us on Twitter for updates from the Conference.

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