ONE of the region’s leading cancer research charities is championing the investment in education and studentships, in the fight against cancer. North West Cancer Research discussed the importance of studentships at its latest AGM and announced a commitment to funding more than £600,000 over the next five years, to developing students at the University of Liverpool, Lancaster University and Bangor University. The funding will create PhD studentships, intercalating MRes degrees and Summer Studentships. The studentships will help to progress new projects in the areas of cancer biology and foster collaborations between research teams. They will also encourage careers in cancer research by offering a unique experience to work a research laboratory first hand. Speaking at the AGM in Liverpool, Professor Neil Johnson, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medicine at Lancaster University, said: “When I started my career as a GP, being diagnosed with cancer was viewed as the equivalent of being handed a death sentence. “Today however, half of all people diagnosed with cancer survive. This is thanks to the research which is being advanced by world-class researchers, like those which North West Cancer Research currently supports. “Studentships are a vital part of the research we carry out every day. They play a crucial role in our research teams and are a vital part of the network of experts and specialists across the science community. “I along with my colleagues at North West Cancer Research believe education has the power to change the world for the better. By investing in the education and development of the best young scientists, we can ensure we have the right people to advance cancer research in the future.” North West Cancer Research has committed to funding more than £12.3million worth of research over the next five years. £686,689 of this will be used to fund studentships at Liverpool, Lancaster and Bangor. Nigel Lanceley, chairman of North West Cancer Research, said: “As a charity, we have a responsibility to develop talent and skills in the field of cancer research, in order provide a sustainable pipeline of quality researchers. “We have made a multi-million pound commitment to advancing research here in the North West and a big part of this focus is support for studentships. “They play a crucial role in nurturing and developing the next generation of cancer researchers and future industry leaders who will have an increasingly important role to play in the fight against cancer.” North West Cancer Research has also committed to increasing education and awareness within local communities. A series of campaigns and events designed to engage with the public will be rolled out over the next 12 months. Mr Lanceley added: “Just under half of all cancers diagnosed in Merseyside can be attributable to lifestyle choices. “It is important that we continue to engage with the public and arm them with as much information as possible to encourage healthier lifestyles, which could reduce their chances of developing cancer. “Working with communities to educate people from an early age helps to raise awareness of cancer and promote healthy living, as well as the importance of cancer research when it comes to cancer diagnosis and treatment.” North West Cancer Research welcomed six new Trustees who will support the delivery of its strategic objectives, including investment in studentships. Professor Ross Sibson, Mark Haig, Dr Phil Robertshaw, Hilary Atherton, Steven Smith and Catherine Jones, will join the board as of March 2016.