Orchid’s Research Strategy 2013 – 2016

Every year over 50,000 men in the UK will be diagnosed with a male specific cancer – testicular, prostate and penile cancer. Founded in 1996, Orchid is the only UK registered cancer charity to focus entirely on  male cancers. Orchid’s aim is to improve standards of care and to offer the best possible support for men and their families through 3 key areas:

  • Research to improve our understanding of male cancers, ways to detect and stage disease and to identify new treatments and novel strategies to improve survival.
  • Education to promote better awareness of the signs and symptoms of male cancers, to encourage early diagnosis leading to improved outcomes and to ensure the best possible care through our influence at local and national level.
  • Support and information offered in a variety of formats, from specialist Male Cancer Information Nurses to a portfolio of publications, which enable people affected by or interested in male cancers to have the best possible outcome.


Orchid has over 15 years of history in funding medical research with many notable successes. The charity’s  current research programme consists of three collaborative groups working on four tightly focused areas of research: i) molecular biology and cancer genetics, (interrogating molecular pathways to understand how cancer developes and progresses ii) Establishing a high quality repositoiry linked to clnical outcome data for histopathology analysisiii) cancer epidemiology (the study of risk factors involved in cancer development) and iv) clinical trials.

Looking forward, there is still much work to be done. The charity is committed to working in an area where there are very real unmet needs and not enough research funding. Building on our current success, informed by the knowledge and expertise of a range of stakeholders and taking into consideration opportunities and the external environment, Orchid’s long term research strategy is to offer the best possible care and support for men and their families.

Orchid’s Research Strategy 2013 – 2016

Over the next three years Orchid wants to make a real, tangible difference through improving understanding of the risk, diagnosis and treatment of male cancers. We want to support medical education and scientific research and encourage innovative, new ways to tackle problems that need solving. Ultimately we want to promote, support and accelerate step change in cancer management.

Our aim will be to:

  • Fund research programs which will contribute towards an in depth understanding of the development and progression of male cancers.
  • Fund research that leads to the better treatment and management of patients affected by male cancer.
  • Encourage young researchers into the field of male cancer research through training and career development awards.
  • Enable specialists to share information on a regular basis and to ensure progress is disseminated widely and in a timely fashion.

Orchid will endeavour to ensure that at least one research programme is awarded following a National call to a high quality research group. The charity will fund consultant clinicians, academic scientific and medical research fellows, lecturers, PhD students, laboratory staff, technicians, and research nurses whose output is related to the work of Orchid-funded principles.

Priority Areas for Research

The priority research areas for the next three years include:

  • Establishing a high quality biorepository. The availability and meticulous management of tissue samples and cell culture lines is a prerequisite to productive and research outcomes. Orchid’s funding of a bespoke Tissue Bank has been and will remain a key enabler in other research outcomes, and plays an important part in international research collaborations.
  • Clinical research. The focus of Orchid’s clinical research will be split between early and advanced stage disease, to enable the differing perspectives to inform and test hypotheses. Hence in testicular cancer, where cures rates are already high, the focus is likely to be on reducing side effects and improving the prospects for fertility.  In prostate cancer, research should focus on interventions that aim to prevent, eradicate, or control development of early disease, while the emphasis for advanced cancer should be on identifying new combinations of currently available drugs as well as new regimes. Orchid will seek to address the absence of effective treatments for advanced stage penile cancer building on the supra-centralisation of penile cancer cases within the UK with the potential for network collaborations.
  • Molecular therapeutics. A key area of research is to discover the genetic bases of cancer development and the use of this knowledge for tumour prevention and/or therapy. In future we hope tumours will be targeted according to their individual characteristics, as we are already seeing for some other tumour types. This may lead to the development of a personalised approach for treatment selection and diagnostic testing to improve outcomes for male cancers.
  • The Orchid Chair of Male Genito-Urinary Oncology. In 2011 Orchid announced the appointment of Professor John Kelly, the Orchid Chair of Male Genito-Urinary Oncology. In 2012, two Senior Lecturers were appointed (Mr Paul Cathcart & Mr Manit Aryia) Professor Kelly and his team will support innovative research into male cancer.
  • Training and development. Attracting and supporting young researchers at critical points in their academic career is vital. We will offer travel scholarships, study scholarships, junior and intermediate fellowship schemes for clinical and non-clinical researchers.
  • Encouraging research into rare male cancers particularly penile cancer. Orchid is unique in that it funds and promotes research into penile malignancy. Additionally, Orchid is committed to supporting men who are affected by this disease. Penile cancer affects over 500 men in the UK every year and the incidence is slowly increasing. Whilst treatment and management techniques have improved with the introduction of specialist Penile Cancer Supra-networks, there is still limited knowledge about this distressing disease.  Diagnosis of penile cancer and its treatment can have  devastating psychological consequences for the affected individual. Late presentation is common and organ preservation and reconstruction are offered only to selected patients.  Orchid will support promising, innovative clinical and translational studies into penile cancer to understand the molecular pathways underpinning the disease process and its response to therapy.  Key in penile cancer, will be the support mechanism which Orchid can provide to patients and carers following diagnosis and throughout treatment.

Awarding Grants

Orchid will award funding for high quality research from applicants across the United Kingdom or Ireland.  A rigorous peer review process will be overseen by Orchid’s Scientific Advisory Committee. Invitations to submit a research grant application will be made via adverts in relevant journals and on the Orchid website www.orchid-cancer.org.uk.

Awards will be made on the basis of scientific quality and the potential for high clinical impact. Successful applicants are required to supply Orchid with a satisfactory progress report on a six month basis and at the end of their grant period. Externally, the benefit of funding research programmes will be judged according to peer reviewed annual reports, which will demonstrate development and, more specifically, by publication in reputable journals.  In the case of clinical research, success can also be measured by the number of trials that are accredited by the NCRI, NCRN, UKCRC and/or form the subject of national and international collaborative ventures.

Grant Awards

Orchid will offer three types of awards depending of funding availability:

  • Prize studentships. These will be awarded to scientists and clinician scientists by open competition and to students wishing to complete a PhD.
  • Programme funding. Orchid currently supports three research programmes. In the future Orchid will support one programme to encourage high quality research groups into the genitor-urinary process.
  • Project grants. Orchid will fund project grants for clinical research to young investigators from medical and nursing backgrounds. These may include education projects focusing on awareness and survivorship thereby addressing the specific needs of patients and their families.

The Orchid Scientific Advisory Board

The Orchid Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) exists to advise the charity’s Board, and by implication funders of the research, as to its quality and value for money.  The increasing onus on research governance puts a premium on the availability of eminent individuals, and the Board is most grateful to them for the vital role they play in the grant-giving process.  Currently chaired by Professor Norman Maitland, the SAB comprises researchers at Professorial level from UK and overseas and its membership is reviewed regularly to ensure its authority, in the context of a rolling 5 year tenure.

Working Together 

Orchid works in partnership with cancer specific charities, social and healthcare professionals, policy makers and the NHS to deliver the best possible, integrated service for men and their families. This includes the Cancer Campaigning Group, Cancer 52, Patients Network, the Department of Health, Penile Cancer Supra-networks, the British Association of Urological Nurses (BAUN), the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) and charities such as Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support. We will seek and welcome opportunities to fund research jointly with other charities, umbrella organisations and government agencies.


Orchid will invite people affected by male cancer to play an active role in the work undertaken by the research community through invitation to join the Orchid Editorial Board and the Orchid Scientific Advisory Board. We will also facilitate the direct involvement of men affected by male cancer in research projects and clinical trials.

Dissemination and accountability

Orchid is committed to sharing progress of its research work widely and in a timely fashion. Orchid funded researchers will be expected to publish their work and we will ensure that important advances resulting from projects are actively communicated. Six monthly progress reports and a final detailed report are mandatory and the outcomes will be communicated to our stakeholders, including funders and supporters, healthcare professionals, the wider research community and people affected by or interested in male cancer. Orchid will develop an e-bulletin for researchers, the SAB, healthcare professionals and other interested parties to highlight and promote Orchid’s achievements and news, maintain goodwill and improve communications.


December 2012

Was this page useful?

  • Please type the code above, so you can submit the form.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.