Involving people in research into early detection and prevention of cancer

Ally Boyle

Above left: Ally Boyle, Co-Chair of PPI Panel and Network Member

Cancer Research UK recently recruited new representatives to join their panel that supports research into early detection and prevention of cancer.

The Early Detection and Prevention Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Panel has evolved significantly over the years and has gone from strength to strength. Originally a Lay Review Panel made of four patients and carers, it became a larger panel of 17 people in 2021. The panel was made up of people with and without experience of cancer.

"This [PPI] Panel is unique in gathering insights on funding applications from a group of thoughtful and perceptive people united in a commitment to support the highest quality research into cancer.” - Angela King, PPI Panel Member 

The panel exists to bring a public voice and perspective to applications for new research proposals in early detection, prevention, and population research. Members give feedback on the relevance of the research and its potential impact.

There are two Co-chairs who along with being part of the panel, attend research committee meetings and have influence on decision-making. Their role is to represent the views of the wider panel and have equal voting as other committee members. 

Since its creation, demands and pressures on the panel have grown, as has the number of applications to our research committees. Last year, we decided to refresh and expand the group, to increase representation from underrepresented groups (e.g. those from black ethnic backgrounds or rural areas).

Our recruitment campaign was highly successful, and we received over 80 expressions of interest and 45 applications from a very diverse range of people. Following interviews, 11 new members were invited to join the PPI Panel! Of those, a third are from an ethnic minority background, a third are from a devolved nation and/or rural area, and several live with disabilities. 

All new members have been inducted, assigned mentors, and had their first panel meetings.

“It's powerful to see the importance Cancer Research UK has placed on the patient voice. They've ensured people affected by cancer have their views considered alongside those of the scientific community and have assembled a group of amazing people who share their insights. Working alongside them has been an incredibly rewarding experience." Ally Boyle, Co-Chair of the PPI Panel

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