About Us

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 people with cancer 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 people with cancer.

Thanks to your support we have invested millions in cancer research, funding the development of new treatments for cancer.

Here's How Breakthrough Cancer Research Is helping

  • 300+
    Novel
    Discoveries

  • 8 New
    Treatments
    Delivered

  • 1000+
    patients
    Treated

Our Charitable Purpose for which the company (which has charitable status) is established, is the raising and application of money and other resources for the purpose of education, and research and development, in the field of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

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 person with cancer. Our funded researchers have already developed and pioneered seven new treatments for people with cancer 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!

Our History

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.

1995

CRAM

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.

1999

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.

2000

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.

2003

HIGH ALERT

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.

2004

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.

2004

MOVING ON UP

Translational Research moves to the Leslie C. Quick Jr. Laboratory, UCC with significant expansion in programmes and personnel.

2006

ELECTED

Our Founder Prof. Gerald C. O’Sullivan is elected President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

 

2006

IN THE BLOOD

Leukaemia research published in Blood – One of the Top 100 influential Biology and Medical Journals.

2007

IT'S A FIRST

Irish Medicines Board’s (IMB) approval to commence the first clinical trial in Ireland using gene delivery.

2008

PROFOUND IMPACT

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.

2009

PROSTATE CANCER VACCINE

A gene therapy approach is shown to reduce prostate tumour growth and is published by CCRC in Molecular Therapy.

2009

EUROPE CALLING

Founder Prof. Gerald C. O’Sullivan commences Presidency of the European Surgical Association.

2009

NEW HOPE

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.

2009

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.

2010

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.”

2010

BREAKTHROUGH

Our national charity Breakthrough Cancer Research is launched, allowing us to take our message of hope all around Ireland.

2012

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.

2012

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.

2013

CHANGE GANG

CCRC researchers receive the 2013 Pfizer Innovation through team work award for their device to treat inoperable lung cancer.

2014

HOPE GROWS

The Clinical trial for inoperable Colorectal cancer expands to three Irish hospitals and to Denmark.

2014

FIRST TIME

First proposal of the existence of a Tumour Microbiome.

2015

WAITING TO EXHALE

The first patient is safely treated with Thora-Ve device for inoperable lung cancer

2015

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.

2015

GERM WARFARE

First In the world to show chemotherapeutics can be both positively and negatively affected by local bacteria.

2016

SYNERGY

New trial for Malignant Melanoma combining Electrochemotherapy and Immunotherapy opens

2017

SCOPE FOR NEW TREATMENT

Phase one oesophageal trial opens for Endo-Ve device.

2018

PHASE 2

Colorectal Trial of Endo-Ve device moves to Phase 2

2019

OVERCOMING THE REISTANCE

Phase 1 trial of combination treatment to overcome drug resistance opens.

2019

ENDOWED CHAIR

Professor Roisin M. Connolly appointed to Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair In Cancer Research to lead cancer research in South West Region.

Our
Mission

100% survival for 100% of cancers.
Our world-class researchers are beating cancer, one genius breakthrough at a time.

JOIN US.

Our Team

Our Board

scientific committee

Governance

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.

1. Good Fundraising : Commitment to Standards in Fundraising Practice

The Board of Breakthrough has formally adopted, is signed up to and is fully committed to achieving the Guidelines for Charitable Organisations Fundraising from the Public.

The Guidelines exists to:

  • Improve fundraising practice
  • Promote high levels of accountability and transparency by organisations fundraising from the public
  • Provide clarity and assurances to donors and prospective donors about the organisations they support.

We, Breakthrough Cancer Research, have considered the Guidelines and believe we meet the standards it sets out.

 

  • Read the Guidelines for Charitable Organisations Fundraising from the Public here (pdf)
  • Visit the Charities Institute of Ireland (CII) website here
  • Read our Public Compliance Statement here
  • Read our Donor Charter here
  • Read our Complaints and Feedback Procedure here
2. Annual Financial Reporting : Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP)

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:

2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

3. Governance : Governance Code for the Community and Voluntary Sector

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