Legacy gift to benefit Early Cancer Institute

Legacy gift to benefit Early Cancer Institute

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An anonymous legacy gift will help the Early Cancer Institute invest in state-of-the-art equipment.

The estate of the private donor bequeathed £1M to the University of Cambridge’s Department of Oncology, which has been directed to Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald’s Early Cancer Institute.

“A grant like this, which is unrestricted, enables us to invest in state-of-the-art equipment to do research that is in step with the latest technologies available and to create an environment that will attract top-notch researchers,” said Professor Fitzgerald.

The Early Cancer Institute opened in September 2022 and was the first physical institute in the UK dedicated to early cancer. The researchers at the Institute will be focusing in particular on cancers that are hard to treat and as such have very poor outcomes, including lung, pancreas, oesophagus and liver cancers, and acute myeloid leukaemia. Outcomes for these cancers have changed little over the past few years.

The Institute, located on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, sees as many as 120 scientists from a broad spectrum of disciplines across the University – from biologists and clinicians to engineers, physicists and social sciences – working together under one roof to understand the fundamental biology of how cancer develops and how it evolves, and applying that knowledge to pioneer new methods for detecting, treating — even preventing — cancer early.

The gift to the Department will help upgrade the facilities at the Early Cancer Institute to enable cutting-edge science. “We have set up a new institute within the Department of Oncology because we believe this is a vital research area that can have an enormous impact,” said Professor Fitzgerald.

“Cancer research has traditionally focussed on later stage disease and finding new therapies. This doesn’t address a major challenge which is that late-stage disease is genetically more complex and harder to treat with more side effects. If we can understand the biology of how cancers develop, why some people get cancer and some don’t, and how we have the power to precisely identify early cancers we can make a huge impact.” Prof Fitzgerald added: “The wider goal is to improve population impact for cancer; for Cambridge to be a world leader in this area; to grow a talent pool who will go on to build capacity in this field; to attract industry to work with us; to influence policy and thought leadership in this area.”


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Philanthropic giving is at the heart of the success of the Collegiate University, enabling us to make discoveries that change the world and to ensure that our students receive an unrivalled education. Cambridge owes its world-leading excellence in research and teaching to the generosity of its supporters. Our history is synonymous with a history of far-sighted benefaction, and the same is as true today as it has ever been.