Cancer Focus Northern Ireland



One of Cancer Focus NI’s main aims is to support world-class, cutting-edge research into the causes, treatment and prevention of cancer. Many cancers previously thought to be incurable are now being treated successfully as a result of scientific research.

We’ve invested over £11m since we were established in 1969 (first as the Ulster Cancer Foundation) and are one of the major funders of cancer research in Northern Ireland.

                For details of our most recent research projects click here

Highlights of our research work in the past include:

  •  Jointly funding the setting up of the Department of Oncology at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB)
  • Funding innovative research at the University of Ulster
  • Funding and setting up the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, which collates data on the incidence of cancer in Northern Ireland and the outcomes for patients
  • Providing funding for research projects, clinical and scientific fellowships, lectureships and chairs

This led to the development of the Northern Ireland Comprehensive Cancer Care Programme, which received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award for its excellence in patient care and research.Testubes

Research from the University of Ulster since 2000 has allowed us to more fully understand public awareness and attitudes to cancer. This has helped shape our cancer prevention work and led to innovative work which supports people in high risk groups to take positive steps to lower their risk of cancer.

We are dedicated to continuing this pioneering work.

Work in the 2000s  

  • Providing a grant to QUB to develop work on Chemokine Signalling
  • Funding of projects at the NI Cancer Registry to gather and evaluate data on the incidence of cancer in Northern Ireland including Barrett’s Oesophagus as a precursor of malignancy (2001); Pancreatic Cancer (2005); establishment of a NI Polyp Register (2007), which was important prior to the introduction of the current NHS Bowel Screening Programme; and Why Cancer Patients Die in Hospital (2008).
  • The development of social science research projects at the University of Ulster into the public’s knowledge of cancer and patients’ experiences including Patients’ Experiences of Day Hospital (2002); Knowledge and Attitudes to Cancer in Mid-Life (2005); Colorectal Cancer, Men and Nutrition (2008); and Supporting Men with Prostate Cancer (2010).


1974: Jointly funded the establishment of the Department of Oncology at QUB. Professor Sidney Lowry appointed to the Chair of Cancer Studies in 1975. Over the next 15 years, Cancer Focus NI supported the Department by providing funding for medical fellowships to encourage young doctors to take an interest in and become specialists in oncology.

1982: Cancer Focus NI’s investment in research extended to the University of Ulster.

1992: Cancer Focus NI Endowment Fund was established at QUB to fund a Senior Lecturer Consultant in Oncology.

1994: Cancer Focus NI helped establish and part-funded the NI Cancer Registry. An early piece of work was a joint report by the NI Cancer Registry and Cancer Focus NI, funded by The Wolfson Foundation, which looked at local trends in melanoma. This report led to Northern Ireland’s first strategy on melanoma.

1996: QUB established the Cancer Focus NI named Chair of Oncology, with Professor Patrick Johnston MD PhD FMedSci the first appointee. Until taking up the post of President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s in March 2014, Professor Johnston was Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.  He is an international leader in bowel cancer research.

1997: Cancer Focus NI Research Laboratory established at QUB

For details of our most recent research projects click here




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