Ovarian cancer visual graphic

University of Nottingham establishes new £4 million ovarian cancer research centre

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

A new research centre to drive forward the latest advancements to tackle ovarian cancer is to be launched at the University of Nottingham.

The Nottingham Ovarian Cancer Research Centre (NOVARC) will be established within the university’s Biodiscovery Institute on University Park Campus, thanks to a significant donation by Nottingham alumnus Farid Suleman, his wife Jenna Suleman and their family in memory of Farid’s sister, Naaz Coker, who died of ovarian cancer in 2015.

Combined with this donation, significant further support from the university and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust will see total investment of more than £4 million into the new centre, which will bring together leading scientists and clinicians to develop innovative new approaches to diagnosing and treating the disease.

Leading the new centre will be Srinivasan Madhusudan, Professor of Medical Oncology in the university’s School of Medicine.

It is truly an exciting time to be at the University of Nottingham. Our team will be at the forefront of research into better understanding of ovarian cancer and new drug therapies. I am grateful to Farid and Jenna for their commitment and support to our work.
Professor Srinivasan Madhusudan, School of Medicine

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women in the UK and the US and the fifth leading cause of death among women. Despite advances in surgery and chemotherapy, the overall outcomes for patients with ovarian cancer remains poor with over 4,000 patients – more than 50 per cent - dying from the condition each year in the UK.

The latest gift from the Suleman family builds on previous support they have given ovarian cancer research at the university to honour Naaz, including the Naaz Coker Ovarian Cancer Scholarship. Naaz spent two decades working in the NHS and held many leadership roles, ranging from Pharmaceutical and Clinical Director to General Manager of an acute hospital in London.

She dedicated more than 45 years of her life to helping others, working in the public and voluntary sectors. She was born in Tanzania and came to the UK to pursue her education and career. A successful and intelligent leader, she became Chair of St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, as well as a trustee of The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, C3 Collaborating for Health and the Clore Social Leadership Programme.

Naaz also wrote widely on leadership and management, racism and ethnic health inequalities in the NHS. She was generous with her skills and expertise, and held numerous voluntary appointments including Chair of the British Refugee Council, Chair of Shelter, a trustee and deputy Chair of the RSA. In November 2009, she was awarded the lifetime achievement award in the Lloyds TSB Jewel Awards for her contribution to public life.

Farid Suleman, who graduated from Nottingham with a degree in Production Engineering in 1974, said: “It is indeed a privilege to be associated with Professor Srinivasan Madhusudan and his outstanding team. I am also grateful for the continued commitment of the University and all its resources, which make this ground breaking research possible."

We hope that NOVARC will serve as a foundation to expand future research into ovarian cancer.
Farid Suleman, Production Engineering 1974

NOVARC will trial new approaches in treating ovarian cancer, including developing new agents that block DNA damage signalling and repair in ovarian tumours and expanding research into new therapies to prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.

It will also be investigating issues that some patients have with developing resistance to certain drugs and therapies which otherwise can offer improved outcomes for the disease, including platinum-based chemotherapy and emerging precision medicines such as PARP inhibitors.

The centre will bring together cancer scientists from the university’s Centre for Cancer Sciences in the Biodiscovery Institute with clinicians at Nottingham University Hospital Gynaecological Oncology Surgical Centre (NUHGOC) and Nottingham University Hospital Cancer Centre (NUHCC).

Emma Thorne - Head of News
Phone: 0115 846 8092

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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