The UK’s National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) announced it was “winding down”, on the day a study found the NHS was performing poorly on preventable diseases – including cancer. Set up in 2001 as part of the NHS’s Cancer Plan, the goal of the NCRI was to bring together partners – including devolved nations’ health departments – to identify where cancer research “is most needed” and “where it is most likely to contribute to progress”. Fiona Driscoll, chairwoman of the non-profit, said it was forced to shut up shop because of “uncertainty in the wider economic and research environment”. Other bodies play a similar role – mainly Cancer Research UK – but the NCRI has been key to launching UK clinical trials and identifying gaps in research. The NCRI’s role in national coordination is “crucially important” Lennard Lee, associate professor of oncology at Oxford University, tells Tortoise. Its closure, he said, was like “turning off air traffic control and hoping the planes will be fine”.
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