Do your bit this Christmas and help fund research for children with brain tumours

02 Dec 2016 11:06:07.813

As many excited children prepare for the festive season by writing letters to Santa and rehearsing school nativity plays, there will be some who will spend Christmas this year on a hospital ward receiving treatment for a life-threatening brain tumour.

Researchers at The University of Nottingham are urging people to add these children to their Christmas gift list – by making a donation to fund life-saving research for those affected by this deadly form of cancer.

The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre (CBTRC) at the University is aiming to raise £100,000 before 31 December. The money will fund vital research into identifying the cause of ependymoma, a rare type of tumour of the nervous system which most commonly occurs in the brain.

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A brighter future for children with cancer

Professor of Paediatric Neuro-Oncology at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, Richard Grundy said: “When a child is diagnosed, the first question asked by the parents is always ‘what has caused this to happen?’ But it’s a question to which we simply don’t know the answer. We have no idea what causes 95 per cent of childhood cancers.

“As part of this clinical trial, we want to look at very young children with ependymoma to see if the underlying genetics show a predisposition to this condition. If we do identify predisposition genes, we may in the future be able to screen children, so that ependymoma can be caught at the earliest possible moment.”

Each month, more than 45 parents in the UK will hear the words, ‘Your child has a brain tumour’. Almost 40 per cent of children diagnosed with ependymoma do not survive and of those that do, two thirds are left with major disabilities. But researchers at the CBTRC are trying to change that - their world-leading research is working to understand what causes ependymomas to develop.

This would be a major breakthrough that could lead to screening tests to detect brain cancer early, and safer, more effective treatments that don’t have the long-term side effects that many patients suffer.

Established in 1997, the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre brings together a multi-disciplinary team of leading healthcare professionals and researchers ─ all experts in their fields, and all committed to improving our understanding of childhood brain tumours.

A Christmas wish - Jessica's story

Jo French is mum to Jessica Simpkin of Mansfield, Notts, who has been treated at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre after being diagnosed with a brain tumour 25 years ago.

She said: “When Jessica was a toddler, she never seemed to recover from a bout of chickenpox. She lost weight, her voice changed and she couldn’t walk in a straight line. Then she started having terrible headaches – she would just scream in pain, then vomit and go to sleep. It was the beginning of an unbelievably hard time for us all, because a few months later she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

“Since that first diagnosis, Jessica has been in hospital more than she’s been out. Most recently, she’s received treatment for six more tumours that are growing in her brain. She calls them woodpeckers, because the pain they cause feels like a woodpecker hammering away inside her head.

“Every day I count my blessings that I’ve still got my daughter. But for many parents, that’s not the case. That’s why this appeal is so crucial. This research could go on to save the life – and change the future – of a child like Jessica.”

Hear more about Jessica’s story on the University’s Impact Campaign website.

The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre appeal is being run through the wider University of Nottingham’s Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, which aims to raise £200 million to change lives in Nottingham and around the world.

Donations can be made by online at or by calling +44 (0)115 951 3627.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK for research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Richard Grundy in the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 823 0717,

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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