Aberdeen University hits £4.5 million target for cancer research

© DC ThomsonValerie Speirs (L), Professor of Molecular Oncology and Breast Cancer Researcher and cancer patient Elaine Shallcross (R).
Valerie Speirs (L), Professor of Molecular Oncology and Breast Cancer Researcher and cancer patient Elaine Shallcross (R).

Aberdeen University has hit its target to raise £4.5million for cancer research in the north-east.

The team want to attract and recruit a world-class cancer research team, and launched a fundraising drive in January 2017.

Friends of Anchor donated £1million to the campaign, which was raised through a variety of initiatives including the sale of giant anchors used in a trail across Aberdeen.

University staff also raised £30,000 by cycling the North Coast 500 and other donor contributions and fundraising efforts were made.

Elaine Shallcross, who has battled back from breast cancer, is one of the individuals fundraising.

Doctors told the 68-year-old they had found two grade three tumours in her left breast last summer.

Miss Shallcross, who lost both her parents to cancer and whose brother has been successfully treated, and said supporting the university’s campaign was “particularly important for her”.

She raised £3,000 by crocheting Bressie beanies and hopes to contribute £10,000 in total.

Miss Shallcross, from Ellon, added: “I went through quite rigorous treatment. I had an operation, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to prevent it from coming back.

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“When I was told what the cost of one the treatments I was having I knew I needed to start paying it back.

“Making and selling Bressie beanies has been a positive therapy for me throughout my treatment, and a perfect way for me to contribute to research that will make a difference to the lives of men and women who are yet to receive the devastating news that they have cancer.”

Professor Paul Fowler, director of the university’s Institute of Medical Sciences, said the team was “incredibly grateful” to supporters for helping to reach the target.

He added: “Their generous support is providing a vital boost to cancer research in Aberdeen, enabling us to accelerate and expand our work to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer.”

The funds have already been put to good use by expanding the team of cancer researchers.

Breast cancer specialist Professor Valerie Speirs joined last year, and further appointments are planned.

She said: “It’s absolutely amazing, especially since it’s such a huge sum to raise.

“We’re grateful to all the people like Elaine who have contributed and have been so generous. They have made this possible.”

In the last academic year, several students have carried out research projects in Professor Speirs’ lab, contributing towards their degrees and adding to the cancer research capability in the north-east.