As a general rule, and as a fan of quizzes, I like to think I know a little about a lot of things. As a professional electron microscopist in a cell biology institute (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lmcb/) I also like to think that I know a LOT about very little things. Aside from trivia and cell biology, there are at least a few other things I am certain about. One thing I definitely know, and that I alluded to in a previous blog, is how expensive science is and how vital all funding streams are to continuing crucial research. Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is one of those funding streams, and the money we raise in our Lakeland 214 challenge will go towards some of that cutting edge science. As a fair amount of the research we do at my institute is funded by CRUK, I thought I’d solicit a few of my colleagues whose work is directly funded by them to tell us what they do and why CRUK funding is so important to their research. One such colleague is Rob de Bruin, a Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology here at UCL who passed on these words to us:
“The work carried out in my group at UCL is funded by CRUK. We study the one thing all cancer cells have in common; they continue to divide to form a tumour and spread around the body, which is ultimately fatal. By establishing how cell division is regulated in healthy cells and how this is deregulated in cancer cells we aim to identify processes that are dispensable in healthy cells but absolutely essential in cancer cells. Targeting these processes with anti-cancer drugs has the potential to selectively kill a wide range of cancers without harming healthy cells, which represents the holy grail in cancer treatment. CRUK funding allows us to address a fundamental biological question with the main focus on clinical relevance for cancer treatment, which ensures we will be able to beat cancer sooner."
Rob also added:
"You could adapt a quote from Mark Twain about San Fransisco for the Lake District, 'The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in the Lake District’! Thanks again for your efforts in leading a team in this fundraising hike and good luck!”
I’ve worked with people in Rob’s lab, and they’re doing good stuff. Our hard work up those hills is a couple of days of graft, but I guarantee you that people will be in our labs on that Friday, and yes on Saturday too, grinding out the experiments and the results that will lead to cancer treatments. Their will is there, and their effort is there, but they can only carry on going if the funding is there too. It’s easy to assume the money will roll in for clearly important research, but unfortunately that’s just not true. Without people like us taking part in charity fundraising, and more importantly without those wonderful people who sponsor us, people like Rob and his team just won’t be able to continue those important experiments.
To paraphrase Tom Cruise in the film Jerry Maguire: "Help me help you" or in truth, "Help them help us all"
So, take heart if it hurts as you hike up that hill. The people I know that are giving their working lives towards understanding and treating Cancer aren’t wasting your effort. They are truly smart, hardworking people who rely on CRUK and by extension us and our sponsors to continue their struggle (and it is often a struggle) in the labs, and they are truly grateful for it too.
Let’s get that sponsorship rolling in and help them out.
Deputy Head of Electron Microscopy
MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology
University College London