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The NCRI Networks were launched in November 2021 and now have over 1500 members. The establishment of the NCRI Networks will allow the NCRI Groups to benefit from a multidisciplinary pool of skills and expertise to deliver focused activities against key priorities with specific tangible outcomes. 

Identifying strategic priorities for the NCRI Brain Group

The NCRI Brain Group was the first to adopt the new model for the NCRI Groups, which involved identifying strategic priorities in brain tumour research. The group held four virtual meetings, attracting over 60 participants from various sectors and disciplines, including NCRI staff, NCRI Partners, patients and carers, early career researchers and the broader cancer community. The meetings allowed for discussion on the overarching challenges, opportunities and gaps in brain tumour research and covered specific issues and areas of unmet need in the field. 

NCRI Brain Group priorities
  1. Produce and publish a position paper on the challenges faced in brain tumour research 
  2. Develop a window of opportunity study, early-phase trial or basket study for glioblastoma patients 
  3. Develop an innovative research trial to improve outcomes for brain tumour patients with unmet needs 
  4. Improve outcomes for elderly or frail patients, patients with poor prognosis 
  5. Build and strengthen links with international groups and prioritise opening international studies for UK patients with rarer brain tumours
  6. Support and provide guidance for a broad range of research proposals across the brain cancer community

It was fantastic to have so many new people participating in our four strategy sessions discussing the big challenges in developing more effective therapies for brain tumour patients. With the new NCRI Network and focused working groups, I do not doubt that we are in a strong position to develop innovative approaches to brain tumour research that will lead to patient benefit.

Professor Michael Jenkinson
Professor of Neurosurgery, University of Liverpool and Chair, NCRI Brain Group

Addressing areas of unmet need

Lung cancer in never smokers

The NCRI Lung Group identified lung cancer in never smokers as a critical area of focus. The group hosted a virtual event to bring the community together and support them in building a research strategy for never smoker lung cancer patients.During the event, delegates commented on the amount of research currently ongoing in this area and noted the sheer number of unanswered questions. It was clear that there is an opportunity to bring this research community together to learn from each other and develop a strategy to make progress for the benefit of never-smoking lung cancer patients.

It has been great to see the interest this event generated. Our thanks go to the speakers that helped identify the gaps in our knowledge and to all the participants in helping identify the key research questions. The level of interest shown gives us confidence that the UK will support and deliver research studies that can improve outcomes for this group of patients.

Dr Matthew Hatton
Consultant and Honorary Professor in Clinical Oncology, University of Sheffield and Chair, NCRI Lung Group

Bone metastases

The treatment of bone metastases poses a significant health and economic burden. It is an area of need that cuts across many cancer types, where coordinated effort is required to improve patient outcomes.

To identify the issues behind the lack of progress in bone metastases research, NCRI designed a survey completed by over 100 researchers, clinicians, patients, and other key stakeholders to gain insight into key research questions that need answering to improve our understanding and management of bone metastases. NCRI has established a project group to develop research studies to address these research questions. 

NCRI is also in discussion with cancer research funders with an interest in bone metastases research and is actively supporting them in scoping new grant calls and identifying high-quality research proposals eligible for their existing funding schemes.

I have worked in the field of bone oncology for over two decades and I am committed to changing the outlook for patients diagnosed with bone metastasis. In order to ensure bone metastases become a manageable disease, a concerted effort is required at a multi-disciplinary level and the NCRI project group can provide a platform for this.

Professor Claire Edwards
Associate Professor of Bone Oncology, University of Oxford and Project Lead

As a clinician, I am acutely aware of the need to improve the quality of services for metastatic bone patients and improve outcomes. There are a lot of unanswered questions and this project group established by NCRI is ideal to bring together the right people to instigate projects that drive forward improvements in clinical care.

Mr Jonathan Stevenson
Consultant Orthopaedic Oncologist, Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Clinical Lead