Aberdeen Uni reaches £4.5m cancer research target

Thursday 11th July 2019

The University of Aberdeen says charity donations and NHS staff fundraising have contributed significantly to it successfully raising £4.5m to put in place a world class cancer research team.

Creating the team is already underway thanks to the funding. Breast cancer specialist, Professor Valerie Speirs, joined the team from Leeds last year and further appointments are planned.

One of Professor Speirs’ key areas of interest is the relatively under-researched area of male breast cancer. Her lab is also developing approaches to studying breast cancer that use human tissue in place of animal testing.

A £1m donation from the Friends of Anchor charity was the single biggest gift, as well as other donor contributions and the fundraising efforts of University and NHS Grampian staff, some of whom raised £30,000 by cycling the North Coast 500.

Professor Paul Fowler, director of the university’s Institute of Medical Sciences, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Friends of ANCHOR and all the donors…who helped us to exceed our campaign target so quickly.

This project was spearheaded by the previous head of the medical school, Professor Steve Heys, and it was his drive combined with the generous support of our donors that will provide a vital boost to cancer research in Aberdeen, enabling us to accelerate and expand our work to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer.” 

Another focus of Professor Speirs’ work is in identifying biomarkers - measurable biological indicators of breast cancer, which can help teams treating patients to decipher how the disease is likely to progress, and treat it accordingly.

Over the last academic year, several undergraduate and postgraduate students have carried out research projects in Professor Speirs’ lab, contributing towards their degrees and adding to the cancer research capability in north-east Scotland.

Our research will also help ensure that NHS Grampian’s new ANCHOR Centre and Baird Family Hospital, which will soon be under construction, provide the very best in cancer care,” Professor Fowler added.

We are working with NHS Grampian, Friends of ANCHOR, ARCHIE’s Friends of the Special Nursery and NHS Grampian Endowment Fund to achieve this ambition.

Only research can beat cancer, and we are proud that the University of Aberdeen is part of the fight.”


Pictured: Professor Valerie Speirs (left) and Elaine Shallcross with a patient and fundraiser