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Blizard Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence Launches at the Blizard Institute

A ground-breaking new research partnership with UCL Institute of Neurology (under UCLPartners) and the charity Brain Tumour Research begins today, as the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence launches. The partnership starts a new chapter in long-term, sustainable and continuous research into brain tumours, the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40.

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The research is led by Professor Silvia Marino, a leading brain tumour scientist and neuropathologist based in the Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, here at the Blizard Institute. Professor Denise Sheer, also from the Blizard Institute, and Professor Brandner and Dr Rees at UCL Institute of Neurology will be the other key partners in this initiative.

The research will focus on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and most aggressive type of malignant brain tumour found in humans. The aim of the research is to increase our understanding of the cells within the brain from which GBM originates. The team will look at how this particular type of brain tumour develops from normal cells, and determine which genes and biological functions control its behaviour. By uncovering this essential knowledge, the clinical evaluation of each individual patient can be improved and better and more specific drugs which target the tumour cells can be identified.

Silvia Marino, Professor of Neuropathology at Queen Mary University of London’s Blizard Institute, comments: “We know a cure for glioblastoma can and will be found – and this funding boost will hopefully enable significant steps towards a breakthrough. The plan for our centre of excellence is to specialise in adult glioblastoma as we have a wealth of experience in the field, ranging from preclinical experimental models to advanced genomics for direct patient benefit. We also look forward to strengthening collaborative links between us and the UCL Institute of Neurology.”

The partnership is part of the charity’s aim for a £20 million investment in brain tumour research over the next five years. Brain Tumour Research aims to establish seven Research Centres of Excellence across the UK, building a ‘critical mass’ of research teams and aiming to bring the UK to the forefront of brain tumour research.

With secure long-term funding, researchers will be able to pursue the sustainable and continuous research so desperately needed by the scientists and clinicians working in the heavily underfunded field of brain tumour research. Promising scientists will be trained up through the ranks and as specialist brain tumour expertise and knowledge builds, experienced researchers can then move between Centres to encourage cross-pollination of the very best thinking at the cutting-edge of brain tumour research.

Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, comments: “Today we will be forming a powerful new network of researchers in order to accelerate progress in brain tumour research and make a clinical difference. All partners involved share a vision of a sustainable and secure environment for research into brain tumours in the UK, ultimately creating better futures for all those diagnosed and living with a brain tumour. We are determined to do all we can to change this, and to one day find a cure for this devastating disease.”


The facts about brain tumours (source Brain Tumour Research)


  • More children and adults under 40 die of a brain tumour than from any other cancer
  • Brain tumours receive less than 1% of the national spend on cancer research
  • 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour
  • Only 18.8% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50% across all cancers
  • Unlike most other cancers, incidences of deaths from brain tumours are becoming more prevalent (and are much more common now than in 1970)