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Driving forward Tessa’s legacy: mission celebrates progress and plans

Leading brain tumour experts and campaigners joined the family and friends of Tessa Jowell yesterday to mark the progress made in her name since she pledged to improve the lives of those diagnosed with the disease

The event at Westminster took place a year after Baroness Jowell’s speech to the House of Lords in which she talked movingly about her own glioblastoma diagnosis and her determination to help others affected by a brain tumour.

Since her death last May, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission has driven forward changes aimed at improving access to new treatments, enhancing standards of care for patients and increasing investment in research.

Among those attending yesterday’s gathering were Professor Richard Gilbertson, chair of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, Baroness Jowell’s daughter Jess Mills and our Chief Scientific Officer Dr David Jenkinson. We are among the Mission’s key partners.

In November we committed £2.8m of funding to establish the Tessa Jowell BRAIN-MATRIX, a ground-breaking UK-wide clinical trial aimed at increasing the number of brain tumour patients who are offered experimental treatments.

The trial, which is due to begin recruiting participants later this year, was key among the achievements and plans highlighted by the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission at yesterday’s event.

Others included:

  • a new scheme to improve training opportunities in brain cancer for doctors in the UK
  • an NHS pledge to ensure all patients diagnosed with a brain tumour have access to the same high standard of care
  • the government’s commitment, announced immediately after Baroness Jowell’s death, to increase its investment in research into brain tumours.

Jess Mills, Tessa Jowell’s daughter, said, “As we celebrate all we have done and all that is to come, my heart is full with pride today, as I know Mum’s would be too if she could see the change we are creating together.”

Dr David Jenkinson, our Chief Scientific Officer, said, “Tessa Jowell was as determined as we are to improve the lives of everyone diagnosed with a brain tumour.

“We are delighted to stand alongside so many others in honouring her legacy through the work of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, particularly through our drive to widen patients’ access to novel treatments through our funding for the Tessa Jowell BRAIN-MATRIX trial.”

The Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission is supported by organisations including NHS England, Cancer Research UK, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Eliminate Cancer Initiative, Brain Tumour Research, Brainstrust and Brain Tumour Support