Thursday, 2 August 2012


There are times when being involved with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation leaves me feeling proud. Or amazed. Or emotional! Sometimes – like many people - I feel sad too, for understandable reasons. Today though, was a day for pure wonder. Why?

Well, whilst the science baffles me – let’s face it, it doesn’t take much – seeing scientists gleefully excited about the arrival of equipment that will make a huge difference to cancer research and treatment is a genuinely thrilling experience.

In the basement of an unassuming building at Newcastle University, funded to the tune of £625,000 by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and a significant contribution from the University, now sits Europe’s first Advanced Biomarker Technology Biomarker Generator Compact Cyclotron.

Due to be officially unveiled later this year, a few lucky folk were allowed a sneaky peek today and Professor Herbie Newell (Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at Newcastle University's Northern Institute for Cancer Research) and Dr Mike Carroll are right to be proud of their new piece of equipment.

This is only the second biomarker generator of its type in the world and it will be used to do something truly revolutionary in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The biomarker generator will allow clinicians to better understand the location and size of cancer in a patient whilst also allowing them to assess if drug treatments are reaching the cancer and hitting their targets, and whether the cancer is responding to the treatment.

All of which is brilliant news for cancer patients in the north east, Cumbria and beyond. But the wonder doesn’t stop there. 

For while new equipment is exciting, and very clever people doing clever things with that new equipment is inspiring, it is important to remember how that equipment came to be in the hands of the very clever people in the first place. 

The answer is of course through the amazing work of the Foundation’s amazing fundraisers. Coffee mornings, sponsored reads, swims and silences. School projects, pub whip-rounds, shaking a collection bucket. The hordes of Great North Runners. Charity climbs, treks and challenges. 

Please don’t stop doing what you are doing – you are making a difference and funding life changing projects like this one. That is truly wonderful.

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