As one of Ireland’s top surgeons, Prof Gerry O’Sullivan saved plenty of lives with his skill and knowledge. But there was a limit to what he could do, and he knew it…
Prof O’Sullivan could treat only one patient at a time, painstakingly performing the most cutting edge surgical procedures to beat cancer. But more importantly, he was limited by what was known about cancer.
As a maverick, outside-the-box thinker, Prof O’Sullivan understood that patients were dying due to the spread of cancer and the lack of ways to combat that. He knew only one thing could change things for good: research.
But Prof O’Sullivan didn’t want to wait for someone else to make the medical breakthroughs that would yield new treatments. And he saw no reason why a small team in south-west Ireland couldn’t revolutionise cancer care. So in 1995, Prof O’Sullivan initially founded a small research group at the Mercy Hospital which expanded into Cork Cancer Research Centre in 1999 and became a national effort in 2011 when Breakthrough Cancer Research was launched.
Today, our approach is just as impatient and dynamic as Prof O’Sullivan’s – and we still don’t take no for an answer.
- An international scientific advisory group sets priorities to ensure our work has the greatest impact.
- We connect doctors, patients and researchers to identify clinical challenges and develop solutions.
- An agile grant funding process means progress is accelerated for faster results.
- Innovative funding solutions means we can overcome obstacles to get research into the lab.
- Our committed teams focus on patients and families, putting the patient and their needs first.
- We only fund projects with clear end benefits for patients – treatments and prevention.
Prof O’Sullivan remained a director at Breakthrough Cancer Research until his death in 2012. His founding vision, to disrupt cancer’s future one breakthrough at a time, still drives this organisation. His maverick approach to finding smart ideas and funding them quickly means we’ll get to 100% survival sooner.
One man’s legacy, to invest in research for the benefit of future families, lives on.