Tributes paid to 'fearless and passionate' medical charities campaigner

Tributes have been paid to former Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) chief executive Aisling Burnand, who died this week from bowel cancer.

Burnand had led the AMRC from 2014 until last year, after being diagnosed with late-stage bowel cancer.

“She was a fearless and passionate voice for charity funded medical research as well as a much-respected colleague to us all,” said the AMRC in a statement.

“She leaves a huge legacy to a sector that will sorely miss her.”

Earlier this year Burnand was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s platinum jubilee honours. This is a second official honour, having received an MBE for services to science in 2007 while working at the Bioindustry Association.

While undergoing treatment for bowel cancer she became a trustee at Bowel Cancer UK and continued to sit on the board of medical research charity Life Arc.

“We will all miss Aisling more than words can ever express,” said Life Arc chief executive Melanie Lee.

“She was not just our trustee but our good friend as well, and our thoughts are with her husband Will, her sons and her whole family during this sad time.”

She was also a former policy and public affairs director at Cancer Research UK and since 2012 had run the firm DNA Coaching to support charity and business sector leaders.

Her funeral will take place on 3 October in Highbury, London. For more information contact

An event to celebrate her life is to take place later this year, with further details to be released in due course.

Karen Addington, the chief executive of type 1 diasbetes charity JDRF UK is among charity leaders to pay tribute to Burnand.

“Aisling was a remarkable CEO and also a kind, insightful friend. The medical research sector has lost a real champion,” she said.

British Heart Foundation head of policy Maeva May said: “Aisling’s voice, passion and general humility n the truest sense of the world will be so missed.”

Meanwhile, Target Ovarian Cancer chief executive Annwen Jones described Burnand as “a formidable advocate” who will be greatly missed “by so many in the medical research charities sector”.

Another to pay tribute is Antony Nolan policy and public affairs manager Greg Judge.

“At various events, Aisling always had the pick of the crop in VIPs to talk to. Though she always made time to chat with younger professionals and was genuinely interested in what we had to say,” he said.

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