Who received Irish Cancer Society grants in 2019?
This year was host to some extremely exciting and novel ventures for the Irish Cancer Society, funding research in many disciplines, from the basic biomedical sciences to the social and allied health sciences. Examples of research announced earlier this year include our Cancer Research Engagement Awards, Summer Studentships, Biomedical Research Fellowship, PhD Scholarship, and Stimulus Award.
All grant applications are subjected to rigorous international peer review to ensure that only the highest quality research is funded. The Irish Cancer Society is committed to putting patients at the centre of what we do, and research grants is no exception. This year saw the embedding of patient advocates in our grant funding decision-making, a process called Public and Patient Involvement (PPI). The co-decision making between scientific reviewers and PPI reviewers means that research is not only scientifically excellent, but also meaningful, relevant, and impactful to people affected by cancer. Below are examples of some of the exciting new projects funded by the Irish Cancer Society.
The Psycho-Oncology Research Award was a collaborative grant between the Irish Cancer Society and the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), which aimed to stimulate, develop, and support psycho-oncology research in Ireland. Dr Maria Pertl was awarded the grant following a PPI review for her project titled ‘Managing depression among patients with cancer: Identifying what works best through Network Meta-Analysis and Stakeholder consultation.’ Maria is a lecturer in health psychology at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) and hopes to understand the most effective way to treat depression in cancer: “we urgently need to develop the health services in Ireland that provide support for patients with cancer who experience depression. However, to do this, we need to know what interventions are the most effective and acceptable to patients. This is what our study aims to find out.”
The Smoking Cessation Research Award was announced in 2019 to funding a scoping study regarding the provision of a smoking cessation intervention for cancer patients in Ireland. Professor Patricia Fitzpatrick (University College Dublin) was the successful applicant selected by a panel of scientific and PPI reviewers, with her project titled: ‘Smoking cessation for cancer patients in Ireland: a scoping and feasibility initiative.’ According to Patricia, “research has shown there is an increased chance that cancer treatments will not be as good if a patient continues to smoke, and that there may be more side effects and complications from treatment.” It is hoped that this research will help us understand how best to support people to quit smoking.
The Alternative Therapy Scoping Award 2019 aimed to fund a focused research study to determine the attitudes towards and usage of alternative and complementary cancer therapies in Ireland. Dr Aoife Ryan’s project titled “A National survey to Investigate the use of Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) in Irish Oncology Patients” was awarded this grant. Aoife is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences in University College Cork (UCC) and a CORU Registered Dietician. Aoife explains that “despite the body of research on CAM use globally, little is known about its use in Ireland. The goal of our research is to understand how and why cancer patients in Ireland use CAM”.
Finally, in 2019 the Irish Cancer Society invested heavily in nurse-led research, awarding two Cancer Nursing Research Awards. The first award went to Dr Janice Richmond (Advanced Nurse Practitioner) and Professor Andrew Murphy (Professor of General Practice) for their project examining the management of oral cancer treatments in the community – this project is co-funding by the Health Research Board, National Cancer Control Programme, and the Office of the Nursing and Midwifery Services Director. The second award, funded by the Irish Cancer Society, is to Yvonne Hanhauser (Advanced Nurse Practitioner) and Dr Louise Daly (Assistant Professor for Nursing) for the ‘Development of a Risk Reduction Patient Decision Aid Toolkit for Women with a BRCA+ Gene Mutation.’