What’s our history?


Ovarian Cancer Action was conceived in 2002 when Allyson Kaye MBE hosted an open lecture on ovarian cancer. Inviting 300 leading scientists, clinicians and women and their families who had been touched by the disease, she recognised the urgent need to find advocates for awareness. Allyson had already been driving international collaborations in scientific research on ovarian cancer through her work with the Helene Harris Memorial Trust (HHMT) for over ten years. John Harris CBE established the Helene Harris Memorial Trust (HHMT) in 1985 in memory of his wife  Helene who died from ovarian cancer. The HHMT international symposiums on ovarian cancer are still a strategic driver in the work that Ovarian Cancer Action does.


The International Gynaecological Society awarded HHMT an honour for its contribution towards the understanding of ovarian cancer.


In 2005 Ovarian Cancer Action was registered with the charity commission.


Ovarian Cancer Action set up the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Unit.


  • Ovarian Cancer Action was awarded the first government grant of £46,000 to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
  • Ovarian Cancer Action funded the first national UK survey into ovarian cancer finding that two thirds of women were unaware of the symptoms of the disease.


Ovarian Cancer Action received two key strategic grants of £1m each from the Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation.


The Ovarian Cancer Action Centre grows from unit to research centre with over 50 scientists and relocates to a floor in the IRDB, Imperial Hammersmith Hospital campus.


More than one hundred voices were recruited across the UK to help campaign for ovarian cancer awareness.


  • GlaxoSmithKline awarded the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre a GSK Gold Award for its clinical trial on platinum chemotherapy resistance.
  • The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) partnered with Ovarian Cancer Action to promote the launch of the first NICE guidelines on the diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
  • The Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre established a system where a biopsy can be taken from a patient and frozen for future analysis within twenty minutes, ensuring molecular information is preserved for accurate analysis.


Ovarian Cancer Action launched BriTROC (British Translational Research in Ovarian Cancer Consortium), a pioneering database.

The BriTROC study uses two biopsy tumour samples from the same women, one taken at diagnosis and one after a course of chemotherapy, to understand the genetic changes that have happened  due to chemotherapy and better target future therapies.

Understanding these changes could help researchers make treatment more effective in the future so that once ovarian cancer is treated, it doesn’t come back.

Medical Science Review Committee states: “The Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre has made impressive progress over the last five years with the strong leadership of Professor Gabra. This is important work and if it can be achieved, this is the team which will do it.”


  • The world’s first cancer patient was fitted with an Alfapump, developed with the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre, a mechanism for managing ascities.
  • In Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Ovarian Cancer Action developed a fact file and online learning module sent to 42,000 GPs across the UK in partnership with GP magazine.


Founder, Allyson Kaye was awarded an MBE for her work fighting against ovarian cancer.


Ovarian Cancer Action hosted the 13th HHMT forum on ovarian cancer in Toledo in January 2015. The international thought leaders who attended published their finding in a Nature Reviews Cancer paper called ‘Rethinking ovarian cancer 2: Reducing mortality from High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer’ in November 2015.