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Announcement of funding for brain tumour research

22 February 2018

Today the Government has announced £45 million in funding for brain tumour research.

This is in response to the report from the Working Group, which was set up in response to the Petitions Committee report in 2016, after Maria Lester started a petition on the one-year anniversary of her brother Stephen's death.

Chair's comments

Reacting to the publication today (22nd February) of a review into brain tumour research in the UK, and announcement of additional research funding, Petition Committee Chair Helen Jones said:

"Today's announcement by the Government that brain tumour research in the UK will receive additional funding, from the Government and Cancer Research UK, is hugely welcome and long overdue. We will want to ensure that this is new money and represents additional investment.

This announcement has happened because of a petition signed by more than 120,000 people and an inquiry by the Petitions Committee. Our investigation found that brain tumour patients are failed at every stage – from diagnosis and treatment to research funding.
The petition was started by Maria Lester, whose brother Stephen Realf lost his life to a brain tumour at the age of just 26. Back in 2015, the Government's response to the petition gave us little reason to be confident that Ministers had grasped the seriousness of the concerns that Maria and her family were raising.
Today's announcement is evidence that the Government has now fully accepted the urgent need for action. This is testament to the tireless campaigning of patients, their families and the brain tumour research community.
Our work, however, is not done. The Committee will want make sure that brain tumour patients and their families continue to be heard by the Government. More funding is very welcome, but there remains a need for improvement in other areas, including better training for doctors, to improve diagnosis rates."


  • August 2015 – Maria Lester starts petition.
  • September 2015 – Government respond to the petition and reject that further action is needed.
  • October 2015 – Petitions Committee announce inquiry.
  • March 2016 – Petitions Committee report published.
  • April 2016 – Report and petition debated in Westminster Hall. It was standing room only for MPs. During the debate the Minister announces that he will set up a working group.
  • June 2016 – Government response to the Committee report accepts that further action is needed and confirms the new Working Group. The petitioner's father, Peter Realf, is invited to join the Working Group.
  • February 2018 – Publication of the Working Group's report and the Government announce funding for brain tumour research.

The Petitions Committee published its report "Funding for research into brain tumours", revealing the distressing experiences of people whose lives have been affected by the disease, as well as exploring the reasons behind the historic underfunding of research under successive governments, in March 2016.

Read the report, the Government response and transcript of oral evidence sessions on our inquiry webpage:

This inquiry was the first ever inquiry by the House of Commons Petitions Committee into a subject raised by an e-petition. The petition was started on by Maria Lester (née Realf) on 3 August 2015 and closed on 3 February 2016 with 120,128 signatures.

This topic was debated by MPs on 18 April 2016.

Further information

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