Researching the cures


Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund to scale down

After 20 years of supporting research into pancreatic cancer, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (PCRF) has announced its intention to wind down at the end of April 2024. The charity’s CEO Maggie Blanks, who set up the charity in 2004, will retire.

After April 2024, no new research will be funded by PCRF.  However, the charity will continue to fund and administer all ‘live’ PCRF-funded projects, ensuring that key milestones are met and findings shared. This includes five projects which started in 2023 and which will run for three years, and the PCRF-funded ‘UroPanc’ clinical study which is developing a urine-based early detection test for pancreatic cancer. The charity will also continue to fund the PCRF Tissue Bank which was set up by PCRF in 2016.

Over the past 20 years, PCRF has funded research worth just under £20 million, thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of its supporters. This includes 73 individual projects worth some £15.6 million; £1.6 million for the UroPanc clinical study and £2.4 million to set up the PCRF Tissue Bank. The knowledge generated about pancreatic cancer derived from these projects has led to several clinical trials of new treatments. It has also underpinned the progression of techniques and technologies looking at ways to detect the disease earlier.

Maggie and PCRF’s Trustees are encouraging the PCRF supporter community to continue fundraising for research into pancreatic cancer by supporting the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK, which has recently launched its own ambitious five-year research strategy,

Pancreatic Cancer UK’s five-year research strategy builds on the £12 million investment it has already made in ground-breaking research, with a commitment to increasing investment in research each year. The charity will also lobby for more government money – at least £35 million each year – to be spent on pancreatic cancer research.

Says Maggie: “The decision to wind down PCRF was very difficult, but I believe wholeheartedly that if PCRF supporters can now direct their fundraising enthusiasm to Pancreatic Cancer UK, this will this will enable a greater programme of research to happen. This not only means more research, but also potentially more ambitious projects and opportunities that may not have been affordable to either charity on its own.”

Diana Jupp, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK said: “The research that PCRF has funded over its lifetime has been pioneering and leaves an ongoing legacy that Maggie and everyone should be incredibly proud of. There is still so much to do though, and I am delighted to be working closely with Maggie to ensure this legacy continues.”

Through its five-year strategy, Pancreatic Cancer UK aims to transform how pancreatic cancer is detected and treated. The charity has already invested over £2.5 million in supporting early career pancreatic cancer researchers and in a clinical trial of a cutting-edge breath test technology for early detection. Pancreatic Cancer UK also plans to invest another £1 million into studies establishing how pancreatic cancer can be found at its earliest possible stage.

In the final issue of PCRF’s newsletter, Maggie commented: “We’re so proud of what our supporters have achieved and what they’ve enabled us to do. We hope that they continue to fundraise for Pancreatic Cancer UK with the same determination and inventiveness that we’ve had the joy and privilege to witness over the past 20 years.”

And in a letter to supporters, she thanked them directly, saying: “When I founded PCRF in 2004 after losing my husband Alan to pancreatic cancer, I could never have imagined where it would lead. I hope you take great pride in what you’ve achieved through your continued generosity and commitment. It has truly been a privilege to work with you all.”

Further information about the winding down of Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund can be found here.