30 Nov 2023 Research

Leukaemia UK invests in next generation of blood cancer trial leaders

This week, aspiring chief investigators of future cutting-edge blood cancer clinical trials took to Birmingham for the DIDACT Foundation’s inaugural Clinical Trials Workshop – an event funded by Leukaemia UK.

Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer and the third biggest cancer killer in the UK. Clinical trials have a vital role in improving survival rates of those diagnosed with blood cancer, by providing the crucial evidence base for new treatment approaches and giving patients access to innovative novel therapies they otherwise would not get on the NHS. However, there is currently an unmet need for clinical trials training within the blood cancer community.

The DIDACT Foundation Academy workshops are designed to equip early career researchers, specialist trainees, research nurses and other healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the world of clinical trials development and management.

Leukaemia UK have provided funding for two one-day training workshops, one held earlier this week and the second due to take place in early 2024. The training events are complemented by a mentorship programme to provide a network of support for all academy participants.

The DIDACT Foundation is a registered charity founded by senior academic haematologists to optimise the delivery of UK blood cancer trials. The DIDACT Foundation is a partner organisation of Accelerating Clinical Trials Ltd. (ACT) – an organisation dedicated to blood cancers, working hand-in-hand with the UK haematology community to accelerate the delivery of trials.

Leukaemia UK has a history of supporting blood cancer trials, having previously funded one of ACT’s networks – IMPACT – a partnership of organisations committed to improving the outcomes of stem cells transplants through cutting-edge research. Since its inception, eight IMPACT clinical trials have been successfully approved and over 1000 patients recruited, providing crucial evidence for new approaches to treatments and ultimately helping to improve outcomes for stem cell transplant patients.

Mhairi Copland, Education Lead, DIDACT Foundation Strategic Oversight Committee said: ‘The DIDACT Foundation is delighted to be working with Leukaemia UK to deliver this innovative clinical trials training programme for blood cancer specialists within the UK. Through training, mentorship and networking, the DIDACT Foundation aims to empower the UK clinical trial leaders of the future, giving these blood cancer specialists the necessary tools to deliver new, safe and effective treatments to patients with blood cancer throughout the UK. The goal of this programme is improving quality of life and survival for blood cancer patients through improved access to clinical trials and new treatments.’

Fiona Hazell, Chief Executive of Leukaemia UK, said: ‘We are very happy to support the DIDACT Foundation’s first clinical trials training events. We have an existing commitment to investing in early careers blood cancer researchers and are delighted to extend our support to the next generation of blood cancer trialists. Every year in the UK, over 41,000 people are diagnosed with blood cancer. Clinical trials are essential for accelerating progress towards new treatments that are urgently needed for the disease. By investing in research and helping to develop future clinical trial leaders, we can stop blood cancer devastating lives.’

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