The Ongoing Collaboration between the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) and Cambridge

Zoom Meeting Sep 2020

Written by Polly Basak, Project Coordinator on the UCI-Cambridge Initiative, Cambridge-Africa Team.

The Uganda Cambridge Cancer Initiative is a collaboration between the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) and several departments at the University of Cambridge. The UCI is a cancer treatment, research and teaching centre located in Kampala, Uganda, which has 80 beds and sees approximately 200 patients every day. The collaboration between UCI and Cambridge started in 2018 and has since grown into a wider network compromising of a number of research projects, collaborations, student exchanges and staff visits. Several departments and organisations within the University of Cambridge are involved and have direct links to the UCI. These include Cambridge-Africa, the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, the Department of Pathology and Cambridge Global Health PartnershipsOne of the collaborative projects between UCI and Cambridge currently in progress is an audit to improve chemotherapy administration safety in the paediatric department at the UCI. The main team at the UCI has visited Cambridge and many members from Cambridge have visited the UCI. See the Uganda Cambridge Cambridge Cancer Initiative page for more information about projects, history of the Initiative and personal blogs. 

Photo above showing Dr Joyce Balagadde Kambugu, UCI and Dr Denise Williams, Addenbrooke's Hospital with the paediatric oncology team at the UCI

Although COVID-19 has brought challenges, throughout lockdown we have been meeting regularly via Zoom. This has been a great way to stay in touch and keep the momentum going whilst many of us have been working from home throughout lockdown in Cambridge and stricter COVID-19 regulations have been enforced at the UCI. As well as regular group meetings we have had smaller focused meetings on particular projects. Researchers from Cambridge University and the UCI successfully collaborated on a joint paper on haematology, focusing on Uganda and the wider Sub-Saharan Africa region, which will be published in the Lancet Haematology later this year. Since August, many of us have also been meeting regularly to collaboratively write a large research grant application with charities, NGOs and government organisations joining us in this exciting bid. Fingers crossed this will be successful. 

The first ever Uganda Cambridge Cancer Newsletter was published on 1st October 2020 with focused features on current research projects, work in progress between the UCI and Cambridge and news from members in our Initiative. Read the first issue here. We aim to published subsequent newsletters quarterly with the next newsletter due out in January 2021. If you would like to sign up to the next issue please add your details to our mailing list.

We also offer congratulations to Dr Nixon Niyonzima (UCI) and Dr Davina Gale (Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge) for recently being successfully awarded funding from the Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund and the Pfizer Breast Cancer Competitive Research Grant Program for Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America Regions. The funding will enable the researchers to investigate the use of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) as a non-invasive liquid biopsy for the detection of tumour DNA in blood samples from patients with metastatic breast cancer treated at the UCI. 

See our Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) – Cambridge Collaboration pages for more information about our Initiative. Get in touch with Polly Basak, Project Coordinator on the UCI-Cambridge Initiative if you’d like to be involved in our group

Main photo: Screenshot of recent Zoom meeting. From top left: Kristijan Marinkovic, Cambridge Global Health Partnerships; Polly Basak, Cambridge-Africa; John Doorbar, Department of Pathology; Marta Ferraresso, Department of Pathology; Suzanne Turner, Department of Pathology; Ignacia Arteaga, Department of Social Anthropology; Caroline Trotter, Cambridge-Africa; Jackson Orem, Director of Uganda Cancer Institute; Evelyn Brealey, Cambridge Global Health Partnerships; Sylivestor Kadhumbula, Uganda Cancer Institute; Nixon Niyonzima, Uganda Cancer Institute; Davina Gale, Cambridge Research UK Cambridge Institute, Joyce Balagadde, Uganda Cancer Institute.