Charities play a vital role in biomedical research. The AMRC calculated that charities contribute a staggering £1.6bn on medical research in the UK each year. The Quadram Institute is privileged to have the support of local, national, and international charities in several biomedical research projects to deliver healthier lives.
Every year on the 5th of September, the UN honours charities worldwide with the International Day of Charity. In tribute, we sat down with Kathleen McCall from Invest in ME Research and Dr Melanie Pascale at Big C Cancer Charity. They spoke to us about their charities, their aims and why they support the biomedical research taking place at the Institute.
Kathleen McCall with Dr Ian Gibson, who sadly passed away earlier this year.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a severely debilitating condition that is thought to affect up to 250,000 people in the UK. Symptoms include widespread pain, extreme tiredness and an inability to concentrate.
To date, much of our biomedical research has been supported by the charity, Invest in ME Research (liMER). Kathleen McCall is the chairman of the charity. Here, she explains how Invest in ME Research is working with the Quadram to establish treatments and understand ME/CFS.
“Invest in ME Research (IiMER) is an independent UK charity, run by volunteers, that funds and facilitates biomedical research into myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME or ME/CFS) and advocates for people with ME.
The pathway to making progress in understanding and treating this disease is via a strategy of collaborative, international biomedical research. The charity is facilitating this by working with an institute that is performing high-quality biomedical research in partnership with world-class institutes at one of the most outstanding research parks in Europe.
Invest in ME Research (IiMER) has now funded four PhD students at the Quadram Institute. It is also fully funding a clinical trial of FMT underway there – the only clinical trial for ME in the UK.
Developing a major clinical trial for ME that offers a new form of treatment for ME using modern facilities and developing solid outcome measures brings hope to all people who have ME and their families.
Our commitments continue to demonstrate our confidence in the quality and direction of research at Quadram Institute as we work together in changing the face of research into this serious and debilitating disease.”
Our ME/CFS research builds on recent evidence that ME/CFS has a basis in the immune system. Our focus is on the interactions between the immune system and the microbiota in the gut. Many ME sufferers also have gut-related conditions and several studies have recorded altered microbiota communities.
Dr Melanie Pascale is the Director of Charitable Operations at Big C Cancer Charity. As Director, Melanie has strategic oversight of the charity’s research and equipment investment. Here, she explains more about the Big C, Norfolk’s cancer charity since 1980, and their long-standing support of the Institute.
“At Big C, we are passionate about the potential and impact of outstanding cancer research and the power of collaboration. We have been delighted to support the Quadram Institute, both in capital investment in the building itself and through ongoing grant support for the innovative research programmes taking place within this state-of-the-art facility.
Back in 2016, Big C were the first donors to announce support for the development with a contribution of £400,000. An institute whose mission is to understand food and microbe interaction to promote health, healthier lives and prevent disease was a natural fit for Big C and our mission to help realise the best possible outcomes for patients in Norfolk and beyond.
Since then, thanks to our generous supporters, we are proud to have been able to invest in several research projects working to improve our knowledge and understanding of the gut and its relationship with food, disease and disease prevention.”
Amongst the research projects at the Institute funded by the Big C is the BEAM study. Led by PhD student Nancy Teng, the BEAM study investigates the role of the gut microbiota in breast cancer.
The study focuses on microbes, specifically the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in each of our digestive systems. Known collectively as the microbiome, they might seem like unlikely heroes in the fight against breast cancer. However, many studies have indicated that these microbes can boost cancer therapies and may also act as a biomarker to screen cancer patients.
The research team from the Quadram Institute, University of East Anglia (UEA), and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are recruiting participants for the BEAM study who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer to donate their tissue for research.
Thank you to all the charities who support research and projects at the Quadram Institute.