Cancer Research UK invests £15 million in new major centres

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK launches Major Centres in Oxford, Manchester and Cambridge today, with each receiving £5 million to boost their work in personalised cancer medicine and early detection research.

The Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre*, the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre**, and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre*** are the first to gain Major Centre status in the charity’s network of 15 research centres around the country****.

They will act as vital research hubs for the Cancer Research UK centre network, drawing together expertise, encouraging collaborative research, and bridging the gap between innovative laboratory work and benefits for patients.

The centres will keep patients at the heart of their work, turning innovation in the laboratory into tangible benefits for patients with cancer. This includes developing more personalised treatments based on growing knowledge of how cancer varies between patients. 

The Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre will harness research to make treatments less invasive and more tailored to individual patients. It will invest further to remain at the forefront of multidisciplinary research into cancer including funding for computer sciences to help boost knowledge bases and access to biological data. 

The Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre will transform cancer treatments by developing new techniques in personalised medicine. They will profile blood samples at diagnosis and throughout the patient’s journey looking for DNA and cancer cells that are released from the tumour. The information will then be used not only to pick the right drug for the right patient but also help personalise surgery and radiotherapy.

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre will bring together the diverse strengths of Cambridge to create novel practical applications that will improve the detection and treatment of cancer. The Centre will develop programmes in early detection, and integrative cancer medicine with the aim of developing new therapeutic approaches.

Professor Gillies McKenna, director of the Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre, said “We look forward to making the most of our role as a Major Centre and leader in cancer research in the UK. The new initiative will bring researchers and clinicians together in sustainable networks with longer-term investment. This will allow us to combine the latest developments in radiotherapy and surgery with clinical trials of new drugs, providing the best evidence to guide cancer treatment.”

Professor Nic Jones, chief scientist at Cancer Research UK and director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre, said: “There has been great progress in cancer survival rates over the last 40 years with survival doubling, but many challenges remain. The Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre will invest not only in collaborative and innovative research, but in the next generation of world-leaders in cancer detection, treatment and prevention.”

Professor Richard Gilbertson, Li Ka Shing Chair of Oncology in Cambridge and Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, said: “The designation of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre as a Cancer Research UK Major Centre is a tremendous honour and exciting opportunity. This award represents a critical investment in the research infrastructure at Cambridge, equipping us with the key laboratory and clinical research tools needed to further advance the understanding and treatment of cancer. We look forward very much to our continued collaboration with Cancer Research UK as together we develop the next generation of lifesaving cancer therapies.”

Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director for research funding at Cancer Research UK, said: “The development of these Major Centres will accelerate national and international collaborations and improve treatments for patients. In each location we are developing cutting-edge approaches in how we treat the disease, be that the detection of individual tumour cells in the blood that allow us to monitor the disease or precision radiotherapy. With these Centres the UK goes from strength to strength in supporting the best cancer research in the world.”

ENDS

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Notes to Editor

* The Oxford Centre represents a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Oxford University and the Oxford University Hospitals Trust and was established in 2010.

** The Manchester Centre benefits from a strong partnership with The University of Manchester, and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

*** The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre is a partnership between the University of Cambridge, Cancer Research UK, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

**** Cancer Research UK’s network of Centres is a leading model for translating new discoveries in laboratory and clinical research into patient benefit.  The Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre, the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre and the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre are key members of the broader centre network - having the scale, vision and expertise to accelerate excellence both locally and across the network.