Jul 04 2022 Posted: 08:00 IST

The People There to Catch Us’ tells the story of Tom Hope and Rachel O’Mahony, two cancer survivors who work alongside researchers at Precision Oncology Ireland (POI), to help improve the lives of others living with the disease. The documentary, produced by Ronan Cassidy of Carbonated Comet and Directed by Luke Brabazon, will have its world premiere at the Galway International Film Fleadh on July 7th 2022.

This is the latest Science on Screen Documentary, a joint initiative between CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, and Ardán, the non-profit organisation across Ireland to support creatives within the audio-visual industry. ‘The People There to Catch Us’ was produced in collaboration with POI and the Patient Voice in Cancer Research (PVCR) and funded by CÚRAM, the All-Island Cancer Research Institute (AICRI), the UCD-Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) and the National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI).

The film features Dr Róisín Dwyer (POI Investigator, NUIG), Prof. William Gallagher (POI Deputy Director, UCD Conway Institute and Co-Lead, AICRI) and Prof. Walter Kolch (POI Director, UCD) all of whom are focused on personalised cancer research at Precision Oncology Ireland.

‘Precision Oncology Ireland researchers are working on developing a variety of targeted approaches to diagnose and more accurately treat cancer patients based on the exact type of disease they have and their own personal biology. In the past, cancer patients were only offered generalised approaches, such as chemotherapy, to tackle their disease, often leading to significant side effects. Our team is working hard to find unique characteristics of certain cancers that can be used to improve patient outcomes while lessening the challenge of side effects’ explains Prof. William Gallagher, POI Deputy Director and AICRI Co-Lead, whose own personal experience with cancer in his family continues to shape and motivate his approach to cancer research.

‘We all have had some experience of cancer, whether directly or through family members or friends, and one in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime’, says Dr Róisín Dwyer, CÚRAM Investigator and POI researcher who has worked with Rachel O’Mahony in the years following her cancer diagnosis. ‘Patient contribution to the research process can have a huge impact, and will help to guide the development of targeted therapies with less debilitating side effects so that patients can live full enjoyable lives.’  

Tom Hope explains his role as a patient advocate, saying ‘I am now involved as a patient on a number of committees with oncologists, radiologists, urologists and scientists. Sharing my personal experiences, I have found that most medics don’t understand the anxiety that diagnosis and treatment can cause a patient and their family. In addition to occasionally discussing research with scientists and giving them the benefit of my lived experience of cancer, I have had the great pleasure of acting as a peer-to-peer volunteer and sharing my personal experience with men diagnosed with prostate cancer. In this way, I hope that I am giving them comfort that their experience is not unique, with supports being there to get through their treatment and live a normal life. A few comforting words telling you that you can get through this, can make all the difference,’ he says.

Alan Duggan, manager of Ardán, said “We are incredibly proud to have worked with CÚRAM again and with POI through the Science on Screen initiative to produce this powerful documentary. We have all been affected by cancer in our lives in some way. ‘The People There To Catch Us’ highlights the human element involved in helping improve the lives of those living with the disease, while also focusing on the incredible work and research being done behind the scenes to combat the disease in more targeted ways."

The documentary shines a light on the lived experience of cancer survivors, their contribution to the research and the ongoing work of research centres like CÚRAM and Precision Oncology Ireland that will shape how cancer will be treated in the future.

The People There to Catch Us’ will screen at the Town Hall Galway at 10 am on Thursday July 7th 2022. Tickets are available at https://www.galwayfilmfleadh.com/project/irish-talent-new-shorts-3-documentary/

This is the seventh documentary produced through the CÚRAM-Ardán Science on Screen initiative, which aims to facilitate, promote and increase the inclusion of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) content in Irish film and TV production. The partnership began in 2016 with CÚRAM funding documentary filmmaking and providing access to leading scientists and laboratories within CÚRAM to explore methods of scientific ‘storytelling’ and to produce short films that incorporate current research at CÚRAM and its partners. These documentaries are available for community and educational screenings nationwide. Find out more at https://curamdevicesengage.ie/resources/science-on-screen/


Press queries to Claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie


Notes for Editors

CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, established in 2015, is a world-leading Irish Medical Device R&D Centre based out of NUI Galway. CÚRAM’s partner institutes include University College Dublin, University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Dublin City University, Technological University of the Shannon, Technological University Dublin and the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training. The Centre is focused on the development of biomedical implants, therapeutic and diagnostic devices that address the needs of patients living with chronic illness. Our researchers focus on engineering approaches for repair and remodelling, improved drug delivery solutions and superior medical implant designs to treat chronic diseases. CÚRAM was created because of the need for clinicians, industry and researchers to collaborate in developing medical devices that will create jobs and a global hub for MedTech. Follow us @ CURAMdevices or visit www.curamdevices.ie 

Precision Oncology Ireland (POI) (www.precisiononcology.ie; Twitter @PrecisionOncIre) is a consortium of 5 Irish Universities, 6 Irish Charities, and 7 companies aiming to develop new diagnostics and therapeutics for the personalised treatment of cancer. The consortium is part-funded by Science Foundation Ireland under their Strategic Partnership Programme, and is co-ordinated by Systems Biology Ireland (SBI; https://www.ucd.ie/sbi/; Twitter @sysboire). The shared vision is to combine cutting-edge genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and imaging technologies integrated through computational analysis and modelling to generate molecular profiles that allow us to better understand cancer pathogenesis, progression and response to therapies. The results will be better diagnostics, personalised cancer therapies, and acceleration of cancer drug discovery and development.  

The Patient Voice in Cancer Research (www.ucd.ie/patientvoicecancer; Twitter @PVCR_Ireland) is an initiative to actively engage cancer patients, cancer researchers and other interested parties (patient advocates, families, carers, healthcare professionals, policy-makers and those with an interest in cancer research), in discussions and decision-making processes, which positively impact on cancer research and outcomes for patients. The initiative is led by Professor Amanda McCann, University College Dublin. Since 2016, more than 1200 people impacted by cancer have been involved in events and activities that inform and shape research in Ireland.

The vision of the All-Island Cancer Research Institute (AICRI) (Twitter @AICRIproject) is to create an overarching virtual framework for cancer research across the island of Ireland from discovery to implementation, for the benefit of cancer patients and broader society. Through their collective work, they are focused on gaining a better understanding of cancer, developing more personalised treatment options and easing suffering and saving lives. Ten academic institutions (UCD, TCD, RCSI, DCU, TUD. QUB, UU, NUIG, UL and UCC), along with multiple other stakeholders including patient advocates, are collaborating on this project which received substantial funding under the HEA North-South Research Programme in March 2022. This funding is the foundation stone for AICRI and it will establishes an all-island PhD and Post-doctoral training programme in precision cancer medicine, as well as large-scale research programmes in digital health and liquid biopsies. Prof. William Gallagher is one of the primary drivers behind the AICRI initiative.

The UCD-Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF; Twitter @UCD_ISSF) is supported under the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Research Partnership, with matched funding from UCD. It aims to help UCD’s researchers overcome systemic barriers to career and network development, ultimately unlocking future research potential within the University and beyond. The fund has supported high-quality research in the biomedical and clinical sciences. It has also directly support research or collaborations within the medical humanities field. This award aimed to enable UCD to strategically advance research in key areas, such as personalised & translational medicine, and to leverage further external funding from agencies such as the EU and the Wellcome, amongst others. A key remit behind the UCD-Wellcome ISSF scheme is also public and patient involvement in research. See https://www.ucd.ie/research/portal/ucdinstitutionalstrategicsupportfund/.

The National Breast Cancer Research Institute (https://breastcancerresearch.ie/; Twitter @BCResearchIre) is a national charity that funds a comprehensive research programme at the National University of Ireland Galway. The research team, in collaboration with universities and hospitals across the globe, focuses on the development and improvement of diagnostic techniques and treatment strategies, to drive real and measurable improvement in clinical outcomes for breast cancer patients. NBCRI is a charity partner in Precision Oncology Ireland (POI).


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