Prostate Cancer Research Lab Tour 2019

Last week, we invited our fundraisers to meet some of our scientists and see their labs. PCR Fundraising Intern Hannah reports on her first lab tour.

A very well-organised, informative and enjoyable evening. Thank you, and to the team, for organising.

Richard Collier
Bursar, Balliol College, and Newly Appointed PCR Trustee

For the PCR Lab Tour, our scientists based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in Central London, open up their labs for some of our wonderful fundraisers and supporters. These are the people who make our research projects possible, and the tour gives them an opportunity to learn more about where their money is going.

The evening kicked off with some lovely words from one of our fundraisers, Joel, who is running his second marathon for PCR in April. Joel supports PCR in memory of his grandfather, a WW2 veteran, avid Watford FC fan, and Joel’s hero. Joel’s grandfather found out he had advanced prostate cancer in 1995, for which there was no cure then and still no cure now. The experience highlighted the need for members of Joel’s family to get regular check-ups. These regular check-ups caught Joel’s uncle Martin’s prostate cancer early enough to receive effective treatment. Joel finished his speech with ‘prostate cancer affects all of us in one way or another’. Very well said and very true.

Following the speeches, the tours set off. Everyone was divided into three groups to see three of our lead scientists; Dr Aamir Ahmed, Dr Magali Williamson and Dr Christine Galustian. Each of the scientists gave a short explanation of their work and the potential outcomes. You can learn more about all of our research projects here.

Dr Magali Williamson began by explaining to us the difference between DNA in normal healthy cells and in prostate cancer cells and how production of the protein PlexinB1 is higher in prostate cancer tumours. Then, Dr Williamson allowed one lucky member of the tour to help her extract DNA from cells in a test tube. The experiment involved adding salt and ethanol to the test tube, shake it up and extract DNA. Easy as that! It was fascinating to see DNA in person and to understand a little more of the process behind understanding the science of our cells.

Guided by Dr Williamson, our fundraisers have a go at a hands-on experiment.
Guided by Dr Williamson, our fundraisers have a go at a hands-on experiment.

Dr Aamir Ahmed and PhD student Marta were up next. They showed us fascinating videos of prostate cancer cells dividing over a few days and explained how certain drugs, already in use, can slow down or potentially stop the process.

Last up was Dr Christine Galustian and her team talking to us about her innovative and exciting immunotherapy treatment. Dr Galustian is working with IL-15, a naturally-occurring protein, and has already achieved startling results. By injecting specially ‘tailed’ IL-15 directly into the tumour site, she has dramatically reduced tumour size in the lab.

I just wanted to say thank you for inviting me to the Lab Tour last night! I really enjoyed learning more about what the scientists do!

Emma Greenwood
PCR Volunteer

In February we held a Valentine’s Day Fundraising Competition for our London Marathon Runners. The aim of this competition was for our fundraisers to try and either make the biggest difference in their fundraising total, or gain the most individual donations to their fundraising page, all over Valentine’s Day week. Following the lab tour, our events staff rewarded the two amazing winners. Sophie began Valentine’s Day week with a fundraising total of £1280, and ended with an amazing total of £7362, raising £6082 in one week. Sophie raised this by getting her workplace involved, and 170 branches across the country took part in small fundraising events for PCR, whether that was bake sales or dress- down days. Manvir started the week with £3010 and ended the week with £3680, raising £670 in one week, but he had the most support over that week with 15 individual donations to his fundraising page. Now, Manvir has raised £4348 so far for PCR. Congratulations to both for winning the competition and thank you for all your hard work!

Thank you for arranging Lauren, it was great and enjoyed getting to know a little more!

Iain Bailey
PCR Fundraiser

The aim of the tour was to give our supporters a unique experience in seeing PCR-funded labs and meeting our scientists. The tour allowed us to see the science up close and also gave an opportunity to understand it better. As someone from a non-science background, it can be difficult to grasp the science behind the projects just from reading about them. The Lab Tour gave fantastic insights into the work, provided an opportunity to ask questions and ultimately, to understand what is being funded by our dedicated supporters.

In her introductory speech at the start of the evening, our Research and Communications Manager Dr Naomi Elster reminded our fundraisers that the results from PCR Research Projects belong to them too.

All PCR fundraisers should be proud of the results, as without them, the projects would not be possible.

There are many ways to support us, and support our mission.

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