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Curtin PARP Fund

Scientist donates cancer drug proceeds to set up charitable fund

Published on: 26 November 2019

A scientist involved in the creation of Rubraca®, a new cancer drug that has been approved for use on the NHS, has donated her share of proceeds to the Community Foundation.

The Curtin PARP (Passionate About Realising your Potential) Fund at the Community Foundation has been established with a generous gift of nearly £865,000 by Newcastle University’s Professor Nicola Curtin and aims to help individuals realise their potential in life.

The Curtin PARP Fund at the Community Foundation is now open for applications in 2019, with a deadline of Monday 2 December and will reopen in mid-January for the 2020 round, receiving applications at any point throughout the year.

(L-R) Sandra King; Helen Goddard and Professor Nicola Curtin
(L-R) Sandra King (Chief Philanthropy Officer at the Community Foundation), Helen Goddard (Advisor to the Fund) and Professor Nicola Curtin

Overcoming barriers

The Fund will support a range of activities to help people to develop the skills, talents and confidence to overcome barriers to employment or education.

Priority will be given to carers, black and minority ethnic people, disabled people, homeless people and people who are experiencing disadvantage that prevents them from realising their potential.

The Fund is named after the drug, which is classed as a PARP inhibitor, and works by exploiting a defect in the cancer cell’s ability to repair normal wear and tear to its DNA.

This defect is common in ovarian cancer and currently Rubraca® is approved for ovarian cancer. Research shows that the PARP inhibitor kills tumour cells without harming healthy cells, which is part of the groundbreaking research developed by scientists at Newcastle University, including Professor Nicola Curtin.

It is estimated that around 1,350 people in England could benefit from this new ovarian cancer treatment. But this wasn’t enough for Professor Curtin, whose generosity will support hard to reach individuals to develop skills and confidence to overcome barriers to employment or education.

Professor Curtin said: “I feel very privileged to have such a great career. By working with a team of scientists at Newcastle University to bring Rubraca® to market, we’ve created a cancer treatment that has the potential to change thousands of women’s lives.

“Our extraordinary journey began in the 1990’s, and the clinical development of Rubraca® is the result of many years of hard work.

“This journey has made me reflect on my own life, and it seems wrong for me to benefit from this financially. I’m proud that this research will change lives, and I have everything that I need in life - a good job, a loving family, a nice house, but in society there are many who do not have this.

“I know first-hand that people are capable of amazing things, but society sometimes doesn’t always allow people to reach their full potential. So, through the Curtin PARP Fund at the Community Foundation, I want to leave a lasting legacy that will change lives for the better.”

Open for applications

Sandra King, Chief Philanthropy Officer at the Community Foundation, said: “We’re delighted to celebrate the generosity of Professor Nicola Curtin, as the Curtin PARP Fund is officially open for applications at the Community Foundation.

“Her generosity is incredible - a truly inspiring philanthropist who should be recognised for her generous contribution to society.

“Not only has Professor Curtin had a hugely successful career that has changed lives and improved health, but she is sharing the proceeds of her success to help people overcome barriers and realise their full potential.”

Professor Curtin established the Curtin PARP Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, a local charity that matches generous people with important community causes.

The Newcastle-based charity is the UK’s biggest Community Foundation, working with a network of generous people, businesses and organisations to build an endowment of over £84 million.

Through its portfolio of more than 300 funds the Community Foundation aims to tackles the vital issues in our community, and through the Curtin PARP Fund will support individuals to reach their potential with grants available of up to £3,000.

The fund is open for applications until Monday 2 December 2019 and will reopen in mid-January 2020 on a rolling basis, with applications considered at any point throughout the year.

For more information about applying to the Curtin PARP Fund at the Community Foundation visit


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