Irish Cancer Society announces first ever cancer research collaboration of its kind

The Irish Cancer Society has brought together Ireland’s leading breast cancer researchers in a new five year collaboration that aims for better treatments for breast cancer in Ireland.

BREAST-PREDICT, which will see an investment by the Society of €7.5 million over the next five years, is the country’s first Collaborative Cancer Research Centre which involves most of Ireland’s leading breast cancer researchers from a range of disciplines and a number of leading academic institutions. They will share their resources and expertise in a project designed to predict the best treatment options for breast cancer patients.

The Society is making the substantial investment of €1.5 million per year, for up to five years, to join six research institutions and the All Ireland Co-Operative Oncology Research Group (ICORG) in a national collaboration, bringing together the expertise and support of several pre-existing entities in the areas of population-based, translational and clinical cancer research. All eight clinical cancer centres of excellence are on board. 

Over 50 leading Irish and world experts in breast cancer research will work towards and benefit from a common research goal, which will provide centralised access to resources, particularly patients samples, and technical expertise. This will lead to an integrated breast cancer database and modelling of virtual cancer patients to track prognosis and therapy response.

The first Irish Cancer Society Collaborative Cancer Research Centre will harness biological information to redefine how breast cancer is treated, with the ultimate goal of precision therapy – that is, more accurate and personalised approaches.

It will leverage the power of systems medicine or ‘holistic’ approaches to improve understanding of response and resistance to treatments, and tackle key factors which are hampering international progress in the breast cancer research arena, such as access to tumour samples collected from the same patient over time to look at how tumours adapt, and improved insight into signaling networks within tumours.

Commenting on the announcement, Director of the Irish Cancer Society Collaborative Cancer Research Centre BREAST-PREDICT, UCD Professor William Gallagher said, “The Collaborative Cancer Research Centre will for the first time in Ireland harness the wealth of data available on breast cancer from around the globe to inform new clinical trials and treatments, and link in with world leading scientists and institutions such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the Cambridge Research Institute in the UK. The ultimate goal of this research is personalised medicine, which allows us to tailor therapy towards individual patients based on the characteristics of their particular tumour and, thus, improve outcomes for breast cancer patients both in Ireland and worldwide.”

He added, “We are most grateful to the Irish Cancer Society for their incredibly generous support as we strive to work together as a critical mass in the battle against breast cancer, and deliver initial and hopefully important research findings in our first year.”

Head of Research at the Irish Cancer Society, Professor John Fitzpatrick said, “The Collaborative Cancer Research Centre is by far the biggest thing the Irish Cancer Society has ever done in the area of cancer research in Ireland. BREAST-PREDICT is the first in a series of such Centres that will lead large-scale international collaborative projects in the oncology area.”

He added, “I’m very proud to say the €7.5 million investment by the Society will come entirely from fundraising, in part due to our Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign ‘Get the Girls’. We need the public’s support to fulfill our strategy to introduce these new centres that will deliver excellent research for the benefit of patients, and we encourage everyone to share in this goal by fundraising on behalf of the Irish Cancer Society this October.”

The Irish Cancer Society has contributed more than €30 million to cancer research since 1963. During that period, more than 650 important research findings have been made.

Professor William Gallagher, Director of the Irish Cancer Society Collaborative Cancer Research Centre BREAST-PREDICT, is an Associate Professor of Cancer Biology at University College Dublin, which is one of the important academic institutions driving the centre forward. The other bodies involved include Trinity College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin City University, National University of Ireland Galway and University College Cork alongside the All Ireland Co-Operative Oncology Research Group (ICORG).

For further information or for any questions about this funding, please contact the Irish Cancer Society research team on  For further information on the Irish Cancer Society’s research programme, Collaborative Cancer Research Centre or to make a donation, visit  or contact the Irish Cancer Society on Call Save 1850 60 60 60.