Female scientists to play leading role in new women's health research centre

24 March 2022

Female scientists to play leading role in new women's health research centre
A new research centre supported by Imperial Health Charity and the Parasol Foundation will empower female researchers to play a leading role in advancing treatments for women’s cancers and pre-term birth.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has established the Parasol Foundation Centre for Women’s Health and Cancer Research, which is being generously funded by a £2.25m donation from Ms Ruth Monicka Parasol and the Parasol Foundation. The Foundation has a strong commitment to improving women’s health and creating opportunities for women to pursue successful careers in research and STEM fields.

The Foundation’s donation will support research in three key areas:

  • developing enhanced care and treatments for women’s cancers
  • understanding the health impacts of pre-term birth
  • investigating the impact of gender on career progression for female academics in science and healthcare.

Today, fewer than a third of the world’s researchers are women. Through a research awards programme, this project will include a key focus on helping female researchers progress their careers and play a leading role in science and healthcare.

"Our partnership will unlock opportunities for vital research for women's cancers and pre-term birth."

Ruth Parasol

Ruth Parasol, Principal Benefactress at the Parasol Foundation, said: “I’m delighted to fund this new centre to help improve treatments for women affected by life-threatening conditions. Our partnership with Imperial College Healthcare and Imperial Health Charity will also unlock opportunities for vital women-led research with the creation of new research fellowships for women’s cancers and pre-term birth.”

Ian Lush, Chief Executive of Imperial Health Charity, added: “This important programme of research will help our clinical colleagues go above and beyond in developing the best possible care and treatments for women living with gynaecological cancers and those affected by pre-term birth.”

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Improving treatment for women’s cancers

Despite advances in treatment, ovarian cancer remains a deadly disease. As one of the foremost cancer centres in the country, Imperial College Healthcare has the expertise to offer radical new surgical techniques alongside pioneering research. The centre will open up a brand new care pathway for women with gynaecological cancers, underpinned by the latest research and treatments. The Parasol Foundation’s donation will also enable the Trust to purchase innovative surgical equipment and award three fellowships for women to lead research in the field.

Professor Katie Urch, Divisional Director of Surgery, Cardiovascular and Cancer at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “The opening of this new centre marks a major milestone for the Trust and a significant moment in our ongoing efforts to learn more about life-threatening women’s cancers.”

Understanding the impacts of pre-term birth

Premature labour is the major cause of infant death and disability in the UK and pre-term babies are at greater risk of developing complex conditions, such as cerebral palsy. The new centre will enable Imperial College Healthcare to award three additional grants to continue its world-leading pre-term birth research, exploring approaches to reduce the likelihood of premature labour and improve outcomes for women.

Professor Tg Teoh, Divisional Director for Women’s, Children’s and Clinical Support at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “It’s so important for us to continue our leading research in this field and make sure we’re doing everything possible to reduce the risk of premature birth.”

To find out more about the new centre and hear from some of the researchers who will lead this important work, visit our web page.