The Cancer Research Fund was established on the 4th of July, 1902, by doctors and surgeons concerned by the suffering caused by cancer. It was the UK's first specialist cancer research charity – before this there were no independent institutions in the UK wholly devoted to investigating the causes and treatment of cancer. In 1904 the Fund was renamed the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF).
The ICRF's first laboratories were set up on Victoria Embankment, in a building that is now the Institute of Electrical Engineers. By 1909, the staff had grown to four research scientists, six voluntary scientific workers and 14 laboratory technicians, prompting a move to larger space in Queen Square, Bloomsbury in 1912.
Further growth led to a move to Mill Hill in 1938, then to a building next door to the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The new labs were opened by the Queen in 1963. As well as this flagship London Research Institute, the ICRF funded cancer researchers around the UK, working to understand the molecular ‘nuts and bolts’ of cancer.
In the 1920s, a group of doctors and scientists wanted to focus more heavily on clinical research rather than the fundamental lab research in progress at the ICRF. They formed a new charity, the British Empire Cancer Campaign, later renamed The Cancer Research Campaign. Decades later, the two organisations would merge, forming Cancer Research UK in 2002.
We now fund a wide range of cancer research across the whole of the UK, from our five institutes - in London, Cambridge, Manchester, Glasgow and Oxford – to departments and labs in universities and major hospitals. And we’re currently developing Centres of Excellence in many major cities.