By Carol Bewick, Director of Membership Engagement, AMRC

Published: 22 September 2022

A force to be reckoned with. Passionate. Caring. Quick. Kind. 100 ideas a minute.

All things her former colleagues said about Aisling Burnand when asked. For every person there was a special memory but the one thing they all had in common was how much she will be missed – as a friend, a colleague and as a powerful advocate for medical research.

Aisling’s old team at AMRC (Association of Medical Research Charities) were shocked to hear the news of her death on Monday 19 September. How could someone so vital and full of life not be here anymore?

When Aisling took over AMRC in 2014, she was an unknown entity to many of its members despite already having successfully led the Bioindustry Association and life changing campaigns at Cancer Research UK. How was she going to change this small but loved membership body? The answer came quickly. AMRC wasn’t so small anymore! In size maybe but in ambition, drive, and visibility it was becoming something you couldn’t avoid.

Aisling quietly forced her way onto the top table of discussions. Her name, her voice and not only the needs but the immense value of medical research charities became known across Government. She positioned the members as a vital part of the life sciences ecosystem. A beating heart of the UK’s research capability.

When underestimated in a meeting, she took a breath and destroyed her detractor’s arguments. We watched, smiled, and thought ‘that’s our Aisling’ while colleagues from other organisations messaged us saying they wished they had a CEO like that.

We sometimes referred to her as ‘whirlwind Aisling.’ Advice to a new member of the team was always ‘go nowhere without a pen already poised on your notebook as she’ll have ideas, lots of them, and quickly.’ No-one talked as fast or produced so many ideas that might just work – and so often did. She made us proud to work for AMRC.

But there was so much more to her than this passionate and driven campaigner. She was always game to join in. She let us run with our own ideas – some of which others may have dismissed as hare-brained – she trusted us to try. After many an event she would be first to buy a round for the team to celebrate our success and hard work. She embraced our creative and, at times, downright wacky social ideas whether that be letting colleagues stuff balloons into a pair of tights on top of her head to create reindeer antlers,, running round the Science Museum on a treasure hunt or laughing at the slide we showed at the AGM with her as an angel on top of the Christmas tree and then asking for a copy to use as her Christmas card.

She cared. About medical research, about AMRC members, about her team and the potential of all of these. With Aisling at the helm, the sector grew, and we got to know our wonderful members all the better. It is sadly ironic that someone so passionate about embedding the patient voice in research became one of those voices and a recipient of treatments born of medical research.

We know you will join us in sending our thoughts and deepest condolences to her family. She will be sorely missed.

Due to Aisling’s immense reach and popularity the family may need to limit numbers at the funeral, which will take place at 11am on Monday 3 October in Highbury. So that they can attempt to gauge numbers we have agreed to collect details of those who wish to attend. Please contact [email protected] to let us know if you wish to attend.

If you would like to make a donation, please support the work of Bowel Cancer UK (

We will also be holding an event to celebrate her life in the next couple of months which we are now beginning to plan with our friends at BIA and LifeArc we will let you know the details of that as soon as we can.