On November 22nd we were delighted to be able to fund a record number of five new PhD studies, with a total investment of £375,000.

The Grants committee had a number of high quality applications and there was much animated discussion about which should go through for final funding. We were delighted to be able to find a suitable study in BRAF mutated bowel cancer to honour the memory of Lucy Thomas for which her family have fundraised tirelessly, and we also selected a first PhD for our new partnership with the Masonic Charitable Foundation in Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

The remaining selected studies were interesting in that a common theme was expressed throughout. Each aims to push forward our understanding of advanced bowel cancer and how improvements in survival may be acheived in future. One study is looking at the mechanisms by which bowel cancers travel from the bowel to other sites with a view to blocking this mechanism in time. The other study aims to improve our understanding of why bowel cancer can manifest itself so differently from person to person, making it hard to treat, particularly when advanced.

Another seminal piece of work intends to work with patients and clinicians across the world to develop a robust and meaningful guidance for assessing the quality of life of patients who experience recurrent rectal cancer (where cancer returns to the rectum for a second time), which currently presents real and distressing challenges for patients, families and doctors. The study will span the UK, Europe and Australia, with hopes to also include centres in the USA.

These studies represent the best quality research from across the UK as well as with an international flavour and each will be profiled on the website in coming weeks.

We cannot fund this work without the generosity of our donors. If you would like to find out how you may be able to support our future research experts, contact our Chief Executive, Deborah Gilbert.