People believe that the worst day they or a loved one will have is hearing a cancer diagnosis. However, this is not the worst day. The worst day is when the doctor tells them there is no hope. They have tried everything. There is nothing more they can do. The cure for their cancer does not exist.
Breakthrough Cancer Research (Breakthrough) is working hard to make sure our family, friends and communities across Ireland have access to the best treatments for cancer and never have to hear the words, there is no hope.
Breakthrough Cancer Research is an Irish medical research charity focused on cancer. We work to significantly impact the number of children and adults who can survive this disease. We invest in world-class research in Ireland to impact the quality of life for cancer patients and save lives. We are particularly focused on improving outcomes for those cancers, which are poorly served by current treatment options.
Our focus is on:
Funding world-class cancer research into poor prognosis cancers, which are poorly served by current treatment options
Facilitating collaboration between scientists and clinicians across Ireland and Internationally
Accelerating the translation of lab discoveries into new effective treatments for cancer patients
Thanks to your support we have invested millions in cancer research, funding the development of new treatments for cancer.
Here's HowBreakthroughCancerResearchIs helping
300+ Novel Discoveries
8 New Treatments Delivered
1000+ patients Treated
Breakthrough funds cancer research that responds to current clinical challenges and offers a clear and demonstrable path to positive clinical outcomes. Research programmes funded by Breakthrough must focus on translating lab discoveries into new treatment opportunities. To this end we work closely with clinicians in practice all over Ireland so that our research is targeted at finding new options for poor prognosis and currently incurable cancers.
We are clinically focused, bringing the best and brightest together to tackle this disease. Our funded scientists work directly with surgeons and physicians in practice so we can find new treatments for the most challenging cases.
Cancer can start in many places within the body but it is once a tumour has spread to secondary locations, the prognosis and treatment options change dramatically. We have multiple research programmes focused on developing therapeutic options for this most lethal component of the disease.
We deliver results and strongly emphasize transferring research breakthroughs into clinical reality for the patient. Our funded researchers have already developed and pioneered seven new treatments for cancer patients who did not respond to conventional therapies.
Monies raised through Breakthrough fundraising activities are used to support focused research programmes, directly fund scientists and purchase laboratory consumables. Investment is intended to also enhance facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and ensure that all cancer patients throughout Ireland have the opportunity to access the most up to date and effective treatment for their disease. Consultant physicians and surgeons collaborate with us across Ireland and do so at no cost to our charity; giving their time to our research voluntarily with the aim of improving the care and treatment of Irish patients.
There is hope and that hope is in research!
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.
In 1995 Professor Gerry O’Sullivan, spurred on by the unmet needs of his patients and his own belief in research, set up a small research group in the Mercy Hospital in Cork called CRAM – Cancer Research at Mercy Hospital. Starting in a small basement disused pathology lab, from these humble beginnings began a vision of research, to focus on the secondary spread of cancer and poorer prognosis cancers.
Cork Cancer Research
In 1999 Cork Cancer Research Centre was formed with support from Atlantic Philanthropies and Irish Government funding to create a foundation structure to link clinicians working in the Cork Hospitals with researchers working in University College Cork.
A NATURAL REACTION
First group in the world to link immune reactivity and cancer survival publishing in Nature Medicine – the premier journal for biomedical research.
Cork commences a colorectal screening clinic, the first in Ireland, to screen high risk patients. The clinic also gives opportunity to research diet and lifestyle influences.
UNDER MY SKIN
Only Irish Site for ESOPE commences with a clinical study using Electrochemotherapy to treat inoperable skin based cancer, melanoma and recurrent breast cancer. The combined EU study results show an 85% response rate to the treatment.
MOVING ON UP
Translational Research moves to the Leslie C. Quick Jr. Laboratory, UCC with significant expansion in programmes and personnel.
Our Founder Prof. Gerald C. O’Sullivan is elected President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
IN THE BLOOD
Leukaemia research published in Blood – One of the Top 100 influential Biology and Medical Journals.
IT'S A FIRST
Irish Medicines Board’s (IMB) approval to commence the first clinical trial in Ireland using gene delivery.
In recognition of his “profound impact on Irish, European, and American surgery”, the American College of Surgeons confers an Honorary Fellowship on Centre Director Prof. Gerald C. O’Sullivan.
PROSTATE CANCER VACCINE
A gene therapy approach is shown to reduce prostate tumour growth and is published by CCRC in Molecular Therapy.
Founder Prof. Gerald C. O’Sullivan commences Presidency of the European Surgical Association.
In 2009, CCRC receives IMB approval to commence clinical trial for treatment of inoperable colorectal tumours using their patented device for both drug and gene delivery.
LET'S TALK TREATMENT
Helping host the 10th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy of Cancer, bringing world class experts together to share their findings.
A NOBLE PURSUIT
In 2010, while visiting our research teams, Nobel prize winner James Watson says about the centre’s Autophagy programme; “You’re ahead of us over here. This is incredible, I can’t wait to tell them about this back home.”
Our national charity Breakthrough Cancer Research is launched, allowing us to take our message of hope all around Ireland.
A STRONG FOUNDATION
Our founder Prof. Gerry O’Sullivan passed away in 2012 but left behind the legacy of a strong research vision and team. “He laid an incredibly strong foundation and on that foundation great things are being built.” Dr. Derek Power.
A PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE
Dr. Mark Tangney’s work using bacteria to deliver anti-cancer treatment is selected in 2012 by the prestigious journal, New Scientist, as one of the 5 most promising approaches to end cancer in the next 10 years.
CCRC researchers receive the 2013 Pfizer Innovation through team work award for their device to treat inoperable lung cancer.
The Clinical trial for inoperable Colorectal cancer expands to three Irish hospitals and to Denmark.
First proposal of the existence of a Tumour Microbiome.
WAITING TO EXHALE
The first patient is safely treated with Thora-Ve device for inoperable lung cancer
HOME SWEET HOME
Research Labs move to new purpose built centre within to join other health research groups in a new Translational Health Campus in UCC’s Western Gateway Building.
First In the world to show chemotherapeutics can be both positively and negatively affected by local bacteria.
New trial for Malignant Melanoma combining Electrochemotherapy and Immunotherapy opens
SCOPE FOR NEW TREATMENT
Phase one oesophageal trial opens for Endo-Ve device.
Colorectal Trial of Endo-Ve device moves to Phase 2
OVERCOMING THE REISTANCE
Phase 1 trial of combination treatment to overcome drug resistance opens.
Professor Roisin M. Connolly appointed to Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair In Cancer Research to lead cancer research in South West Region.
100% survival for 100% of cancers. Our world-class researchers are beating cancer, one genius breakthrough at a time.
Orla has been part of the team since 2006 when she came on board to help out on a temporary basis! Inspired by the quality of the research she joined full time within six months and has since presided over the expansion of the fundraising team. Originally a trained scientist, Orla worked in business management for 6 years with companies in the US and now applies all that knowledge to helping ensure the scientists and clinicians have the necessary resources they need for their research.
Orla is a board member of the National Cancer Registry of Ireland. “I do not want lack of money to be the reason someone does not get an effective treatment for their cancer”. “The research we fund is focused and targeted and thus worthy of significant investment.”
Eoghan joined Breakthrough Cancer Research in 2012 and is responsible our national fundraising campaigns. Having worked at senior management level for over 10 years in 4 & 5* hotels and resorts throughout Ireland, he has extensive experience in running major events in high profile venues as well as dealing with major multi national corporate clients about all aspects of their business needs.
In addition to holding two business certificates from Failte Ireland, Eoghan also holds an honours BA in Hotel & Catering management from Galway Mayo Institute of Technology. A subsequent Failte Ireland Marketing course in conjunction with Cornell University with a residential module in Boston College in the US led to an interest in campaign work, building on numerous years as a volunteer for cancer research.
Mairead joined the team in May 2018 and is responsible for the internal Finance function of the charity. Having over 17 years’ experience working in Finance roles in the multinational sector, she has extensive experience in financial procedures and processes which she applies to her role within the charity.
Mairead has a Bachelor Degree in European Studies from UCC and a Masters in International Studies from UL. She qualified as a Certified Public Accountant in 2008.
Frances joined the team in October 2019. Having qualified with a PhD in Biochemistry from University College Cork, Frances shifted her focus to patient focused research. She has fifteen years of experience in cancer research. Frances also has a BA in Applied Social studies in Counselling from Cork Institute of Technology.
She has been a counsellor for 8 years and an active volunteer for many years. Frances believes passionately that research is vital to improve health and survival at both the individual and the population level.
Julian joined Breakthrough Cancer Research in October 2020 and brings a range of experience from fundraising to farming. After growing up in New Zealand and moving to London and then Cork, he likes to bring friendliness and efficiency to a very worthy cause.
Linda joined Breakthrough Cancer Research in 2021 and is responsible for our marketing communications. She has extensive experience in developing robust public information and awareness campaigns having worked in various strategic communications agencies for over 10 years. She is passionate about achieving better outcomes for people with cancer and the integral role that research plays in saving lives and providing better futures.
Linda is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast, the Irish Management Institute, and the Digital Marketing Institute.
Mr Bryan Mohally
Mr Bryan Mohally is retired but most recently was Vice President of Supply Chain Operations Europe – Johnson and Johnson and Former Managing Director of Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd. Bryan is a Past President of PharmaChemical Ireland, the representative body within IBEC for the pharmaceutical and chemical sector and a Director of Business in the Community Ireland. Bryan has been a board member since 2011.
Prof. Brendan Buckley
Prof Brendan Buckley, trained as an endocrinologist and has over 30 years’ experience in the medical sector. Brendan has been CMO of ICON since 2011 having joined ICON through the acquisition of Firecrest Clinical in 2011, where he was one of the founders of the company and Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs.
Brendan has extensive experience in clinical trials and chairs several independent Data and Safety Monitoring Boards for medium to large cardio-metabolic and rare disease clinical studies.
Brendan is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at the School of Medicine, University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, and has also been director of the university’s European Center for Clinical Trials in Rare Diseases. He has been a board member of the Irish Medicines Board and of the European Medical Agency (EMA)’s Scientific Advisory Group for Diabetes and Endocrinology since 2005.
He was also a member of the EMA Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products from 2000-2003 and a member of the EMA’s panel of experts. Professor Buckley is also chairman of the Irish Statutory Anti-Doping Agency and is a member of the UK Anti-Doping Scientific Advisory Board. Brendan have been a board member since 2011.
Enda Lynch, Head of Enterprise with Munster Rugby, is a commercial and sponsorship veteran with some of Ireland’s leading brands. Enda’s current role oversees a new business venture for Munster Rugby, the High-Performance Leadership programme, in partnership with University of Limerick.
Previously Enda was Head of Commercial & Marketing with Munster Rugby overseeing all revenue generation and marketing for the organisation for over five years. Prior to that, he was a sponsorship expert, working across a number of sponsorships such as the Irish Rugby team sponsorship, The O2, GAA All-Stars, Ferrari team sponsorship, Champions League etc. for brands both domestically and internationally for over 12 years including O2, Vodafone and Digicel.
Ms Doreen O'Mahony
Doreen O’ Mahony is a creative marketing professional specialising as Digital Brand Manager with laya healthcare. She has over ten years of industry experience in Public Relations and Digital Marketing.
Previous roles have ranged from Social Media Manager for Media Manager to Communications Officer with Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. She also worked as Account Manager with Fuzion Communications managing a variety of consumer and corporate clients.
She has an honours BA in History, Politics and Social Studies and a H. Dip (hons) in Business Administration both from the University of Limerick. More recently she obtained a Professional Diploma in Mobile Marketing from the Digital Marketing Institute and a certificate in user experience (UX) design. Board Member since January 2018.
Mrs Breda O’Sullivan
Mrs Breda O’Sullivan is the wife of the founder of Cork Cancer Research Centre & Breakthrough Cancer Research, Prof Gerald C. O’Sullivan. After her husband passed away Breda was appointed to the board of Breakthrough to ensure that the research remains in keeping with the vision of Prof O’Sullivan. Breda has been a board member since 2012.
Dr Derek Power
Derek Power graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1994 with an honours degree in Pharmacy. He then graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2001 with an honours medical degree.
After his general medical training and 2 years of specialist training in medical oncology he won a bursary from the Irish Society of Medical Oncology and embarked on a Solid Tumour fellowship in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, New York 2007-2009. He then did a Cancer Genetics fellowship in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre 2009-2010. He was appointed as a Consultant Medical Oncologist in The Mercy and Cork University Hospitals and an Honorary Clinical Lecturer in UCC – July 2010.
Derek has given oral presentations at the ASCO and ESMO meetings and is a member of national and international cancer organisations. He is a national principal investigator on several Cancer Trials Ireland (formerly ICORG) clinical trials in gastrointestinal cancers and melanoma. He is the recipient of a Translational Research Access Programme Application grant from UCC for ‘Neuroendocrine and Gut Microbiome Biomarkers in Pancreatic cancer cachexia’, and has received investigator initiated funding on kidney cancer and melanoma studies.
Derek is also a Principal Investigator with Cork Cancer Research Centre. Derek has been a board member since 2016.
Mr Sean Ryan
Sean Ryan is a retired director of a landscaping and civil engineering business. Sean has been a board member since June 2016.
Prof Buckley, trained as an endocrinologist and has over 30 years’ experience in the medical sector. He has been CMO of ICON since 2011 having joined ICON through the acquisition of Firecrest Clinical in 2011, where he was one of the founders of the company and Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs. He has extensive experience in clinical trials and chairs several independent Data and Safety Monitoring Boards for medium to large cardio-metabolic and rare disease clinical studies.
Prof Buckley is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at the School of Medicine, University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, and has also been director of the university’s European Center for Clinical Trials in Rare Diseases. He has been a board member of the Irish Medicines Board and of the European Medical Agency (EMA)’s Scientific Advisory Group for Diabetes and Endocrinology since 2005.
He was also a member of the EMA Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products from 2000-2003 and a member of the EMA’s panel of experts. Professor Buckley is also chairman of the Irish Statutory Anti-Doping Agency and is a member of the UK Anti-Doping Scientific Advisory Board.
Dr Horgan is a physician scientist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was born in London, and his parents were natives of Clare and Cork. After attending Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick he graduated in medicine from University College Cork in 1982. He completed postgraduate medical training at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, and UCLA in internal medicine, immunology and gastroenterology.
After four years on the faculty at UCLA, where he specialized in managing inflammatory bowel disease, he joined the pharmaceutical industry at Merck Research Laboratories. There he led the development of the groundbreaking drug Emend for the prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. A decade after its approval in 2003, no similar drug has been successfully developed.
Since then, Dr Horgan has contributed to the development of several novel therapies and diagnostics for inflammatory bowel disease and Alzheimer’s. His immunology research provided important early support for the development of three approved medications for multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. After working with several small biotechnology companies on novel immunotherapies and diagnostics, he is now a Global Medical Lead at Astra-Zeneca in the rapidly developing area of immunooncology
Dr O’Mahony is currently Vice President of Research Biology at Eurofins DiscoverX leading the scientific application of their proprietary BioMAP® platform to fundamentally improve the productivity and efficacy of drug development. As head of R&D, Alison has lead efforts on the development, validation and utilization of BioMAP systems in the areas of autoimmunity, inflammation, fibrosis, immune oncology, tissue remodeling etc. Prior to joining the BioMAP team, Dr O’Mahony was an Investigator at the Gladstone Institutes at UCSF and has over 25 years specializing in cell biology, signal transduction and biomarker expression.
She has considerable expertise and experience in phenotypic primary human cell-based systems as predictive models for drug discovery. Dr O’Mahony holds a Ph.D. from the National University of Ireland and was a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Davis and at UCSF. She has published multiple peer-reviewed papers and invited book chapters and has received a number of international and national awards for her work.
Prof. Harrington specialises in developing new treatments using biologically targeted agents (such as viruses, antibodies and small molecules) that selectively destroy cancer cells. He is Professor of Biological Cancer Therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research and an honorary consultant oncologist at The Royal Marsden.
He was appointed as Joint Head of the ICR’s Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging in 2013. Prof. Harrington studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, and began focusing on head and neck cancer while a PhD student at Hammersmith Hospital. He completed postdoctoral research in molecular medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, before joining the ICR in 2001 as Team Leader in Targeted Therapy within the Section of Cell and Molecular Biology.
Dr Goggins is a professor of pathology, medicine and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He serves as director of the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Laboratory and is an attending physician in medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, as well as a molecular biologist.
Dr. Goggins’ research interests include the role of germline BRCA2 mutations in pancreas cancer and characterizing the molecular genetic progression model for pancreas cancer. He obtained his medical degree in 1988 from Trinity College of the University of Dublin, Ireland. He completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in Gastroenterology at St. James’ Hospital in Dublin. He obtained his Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 1991 and his European Diploma in Gastroenterology in 1995. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1999.
Dr. Goggins is a member of the Royal College of Physicians and the European Board of Gastroenterology. He sits on the editorial boards of Gut, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and Cancer Biology and Therapy.
Dr. O’Connor is an international authority in lymphoma and drug development, with more than 25 years of experience in academic medicine. He is Chief Scientific Officer of TG Therapeutics. Dr. O’Connor is widely recognized for his contributions to the field, having pioneered the development of several first in class drugs leading to regulatory approval, including the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib, the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors belinostat and vorinostat, and co-invented and led the international development of pralatrexate, which became the first drug approved for patients with relapsed or refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma, now approved in over 35 countries around the world.
A past member of the Food and Drug Administration’s Oncology Drug Advisory Committee (ODAC), he has also successfully aided in filling New Drug Applications in China, Japan, and Taiwan, as well as the European Medicines Agency (EMA). He has held a number of prestigious leadership positions in the major cancer centers in New York City including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he held a faculty position for a decade leading the Laboratory of Experimental Therapeutics for the Lymphoid Malignancies, and Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, and Deputy Cancer Center Director at the New York University Medical Center prior to joining Columbia.
Dr. O’Connor has published over 200 articles in peer reviewed journals, books and book chapters and reviews on the management of lymphoma, in addition to being a member of several important advisory boards, including the Scientific Advisory Board for the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
He has received countless awards for his research, including being named to Americas Top Cancer Doctors, being named among the Top 50 Irish-Americans in Science and Medicine by the Irish government, and being inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame. He is also recipient of the American Cancer Society Research Professorship, the most prestigious honor bestowed by the Society.
Breakthrough Cancer Research continues to demonstrate openness, transparency and integrity to our donors, supporters, volunteers and funding partners by operating rigorously to the triple lock standards set out by the Charity Institute of Ireland – ethical fundraising, transparent annual financial reporting and governance.
Breakthrough’s annual accounts are independently audited every year by Moore Ireland. We prepare our accounts in accordance with Irish accounting standards and with reference to the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) for charities.
This is a comprehensive framework that enables us to explain what we aim to do, how we go about it and what we achieve. You can download and view our most recent audited accounts by clicking below:
Breakthrough Cancer Research is fully compliant with the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations, and are currently migrating towards the Charities Governance Code as set out by the Charities Regulator in 2018.
Breakthrough’s Charity No: CHY19801
Registered Charity No (RCN): 20077945
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