The word unprecedented has begun to lose all meaning 12 months after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, it is worth remembering the number of changes we have had to deal with this year, both professionally and personally.
A new research area, and an additional focus for NCRI, cancer and COVID-19 arose. Trials to examine the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients, treatment and care hastily emerged, which we collated and monitored. The NCRI Consumer Forum continually championed patients’ and carers’ role in the development of trials, and NCRI’s Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Group (CTRad) developed COVID RT to study the impact on UK radiotherapy services and patient outcomes.
We used our connections to quickly convene the people needed to understand research capacity and redeployment, and the restart of the research portfolio. NCRI was also able to identify the impact of COVID-19 on research funding, something only possible due to the collection of cancer research funding data from NCRI Partners.
As well as supporting our Partners and the cancer research community, NCRI has also found time to develop as an organisation. We are benefitting from digital tools to operate more efficiently and make the best use of resources. By focussing on our culture, we are making NCRI an excellent place to work, we are offering more training and development and making commitments to equality, diversity and inclusion. More about that later in the report.
NCRI has established a brilliant virtual events programme. The first NCRI Virtual Showcase enabled early career researchers to share their research with the community. While we will miss hosting a face-to-face NCRI Cancer Conference in 2021, we are grateful to be able to connect digitally and look forward to when we are able to get together in person again.
I must say a big thank you to everyone at NCRI for their dedication and hard work over the past year and including the board of trustees. Thank you to Alan Chant, Sarah Woolnough and Dr Alastair Rankin who we have said farewell to this year and to Professor Matt Seymour who stepped down from his role as Clinical Research Director.
Finally, I would like to offer a warm welcome to new NCRI Partner Myeloma UK.
Dr Iain Frame