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Petitions Committee announces evidence session on brain tumour and childhood cancer research

25 May 2021

On Thursday 27 May, the Petitions Committee will hear evidence on brain tumour and childhood cancer research from campaigners, experts, and Government Ministers.

The session follows a petition calling on the Government to fund research into childhood cancers with the worst survival rates, which received more than 109,000 signatures.

Five years on from the publication of the Committee’s landmark report on funding for research into brain tumours in 2016, the evidence session will seek to assess progress against the Committee’s recommendations on how to encourage more high-quality research into this disease.

It will also examine the research environment for childhood cancers, including brain tumours in children, some types of which – such as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) – remain almost universally fatal. 

Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee, comments 

“I am delighted that we are holding this session to follow-up on the recommendations the Committee made in our report in 2016, and to expand our work to the devastating impact of childhood cancers.

“Since 2016, the Government has committed to spend £40 million on brain tumour research and it is vital that we understand what progress has been made and the impact this funding has had.

“The Committee has continued our work around this topic since the publication of the report, and I am looking forward to taking evidence from petitioners, experts and the Government on the advancements made in this area over the last five years.”


The Petitions Committee will hear from a range of experts and petitioners about their experiences of brain tumour and childhood cancer research. It will also hear from Lord Bethell, the Minister with responsibility for health research, together with officials from the Department of Heath and Social Care. Witnesses will include:

Panel 1

  • Peter Realf, brain tumour awareness campaigner
  • Fiona Govan, petition creator

Panel 2

  • Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive, Brain Tumour Research
  • Ian Walker, Executive Director of Policy, Information and Communications, Cancer Research UK
  • Professor Richard Gilbertson, Chair, Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission; Director, CRUK Cambridge Centre, and Head of Department of Oncology, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Chris Jones, Professor of Childhood Brain Tumour Biology, Institute of Cancer Research

Panel 3

  • Lord Bethell of Romford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Innovation), Department of Health and Social Care
  • Mike Batley, Deputy Director of Research Programmes, Department of Health and Social Care
  • Helen Campbell, Portfolio Manager, Department of Health and Social Care

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