When most people think of research they tend to think of people in white coats working with test tubes, but laboratory work is only one facet of scientific research.
Research is often defined as any activity undertaken to increase knowledge. It involves systematically investigating a problem or question.
Although much of the detailed work to understand what is happening at the cellular level requires laboratory work, there are many other issues related to cancer and the burden it imposes on communities.
Research also involves behavioural studies, such as how best to deliver cancer prevention messages about high-risk behaviours to specific groups within the population.
It can also involve extensive computer simulations to highlight what is occurring across large populations. This type of work can provide important insights into the most efficient and effective way of spending the limited funding available for cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Systematically reviewing and seeking improvements in the care provided to cancer patients and the outcomes achieved also represents a significant area for detailed investigation and study.
What is the value of research?
Research underpins the framework for understanding our society and helps to steer ethical decision making in policy, practice and legislation. Without research we wouldn’t be able to discern myth from fact or opinion over evidence, with potentially catastrophic consequences – wasting money and resources, and putting people’s lives at risk. Research also helps to organise and provide systematic ways to find answers to questions; its goal is always to provide the scientific evidence to inform and empower.
At Cancer Council we use clear evidence to make significant decisions about the many aspects of cancer and its burden to the community.
From fundamental research into the genetic causes of cancer through to the development of evidence-based clinical guidelines, our research activities always aim to improve patient outcomes through informed decision making.
Through transparent governance processes, we ensure that every dollar allocated to cancer research is invested in the most promising research projects, to advance our understanding of cancer and to attract the most talented staff to make that happen.
We involve the community in decision making by inviting consumer input into the selection and evaluation of grant proposals through our Consumer Review Panel, which represents an integral part in the selection process for all Project Grants submitted for Cancer Council funding. A consumer-led initiative also instigated the creation of a new grant scheme investigating the promise of personalised medicine in cancer (Pharmacogenomics grant).
It is our emphasis on excellence that has secured our strong international reputation within the research community.
For more information about Research download our book – Understanding Clinical Trials and Research (PDF)