Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


The Rotary Club of York Vikings and their corporate member, D E Ford (Insurance Brokers) Ltd., are raising funds to purchase equipment to update an existing Olympus BX51 Microscope, a fluorescent microscope used by a research team at York University, led by
Prof. Norman Maitland. These York based scientists are carrying out pioneering research into prostate cancer.

Given the age profile of our fellow Rotarians, you will not be surprised to learn that there are members currently under treatment for prostate cancer and unfortunately the numbers affected echo the statistics below. This has brought home to us the importance of this research.

We are fortunate to have an eminent research team on our doorstep and are privileged to be able to support them with our fundraising efforts. Indeed, in recent times we have raised funds to purchase a ‘Bio Ruptor’ which Prof. Maitland’s team has used extensively to break down the DNA in tumour stem cells into ‘bite sized’ pieces, which are easier to analyse.


1 in 6 men in York will suffer from prostate cancer at some stage of their lives
2 in 5 men aged 50+ will be affected
4 in 5 aged 80+ will be affected
If a man has a close relative (grandfather, father, brother) who has had prostate cancer there is a 40% chance that he will also be affected and down the generations this often occurs at an increasingly younger age.

Not all of these cancers will prove fatal, however research is needed to be able to distinguish the deadly ‘tiger’ cancers from the ‘pussycats’ so that an appropriate long term treatment can be developed.

As Prof. Mailtand has said, “Current treatments for prostate cancer are like using a weedkiller that kills the leaves but allows the weed to grow back. What we are doing is the same as ‘Roundup’, we kill the cancer at the roots by eliminating the cancer stem cells and the leaves will die: then the cancer can’t grow back”.

This donation will upgrade an excellent Olympus microscope body with a new lens and filter cubes to detect fluorescence and, most importantly, a new high resolution colour camera and software to interpret the digital images it produces.

The justification is that the lab’s current Nikon high resolution fluorescence microscope is 13 years old and can no longer be upgraded, as the microscope body is now obsolete. It is also very heavily used and is becoming unreliable as the filter cubes wear out. The Olympus microscope is considerably newer, but lacks the capacity to record fluorescent images and the software to process these images.

This microscope is used frequently by almost every member of the 15 strong research team and is essential to the research.

To date, we at The Rotary Club of York Vikings have raised £9,450 and need to find a further £9,890 to purchase the new parts.

Prof. Maitland is quite honest: he does not expect to find a cure for prostate cancer overnight, however the impact of this upgraded microscope will be immediate as the researchers will be able to see deep into the cancer tissues enabling them to identify and tag cancer cells with greater accuracy and clarity.

Prostate cancer patients from the York area have kindly donated tissue from their tumours to the research team which means the development of their cancer cells can be monitored throughout their treatment with the aim of finding a bespoke and therefore more effective drug regime. These local men and their families are often invited to the lab to meet Prof. Maitland and his team which has proven to be a very positive experience for everyone.

The Rotary Club of York Vikings is always looking to help worthwhile local causes and we believe that by supporting the pioneering research carried out here in York, we will be playing our part in finding an effective treatment for generations to come, locally, nationally and worldwide.

Project Video

The Rotary Club of York Vikings

Moment of Pride

We are fortunate to have such eminent scientists on our doorstep and the selflessness of our local cancer patients is an inspiration to us all. We are proud to be able to work together with the York doctors, patients and scientists in their common purpose and to contribute in some way to this cause.

Location: York