Improving cancer diagnosis and treatment by training the next generation of molecular pathologists



Our Accelerator Awards aim to speed up progress in translational research through collaboration. Research teams will be awarded up to £5m over five years to develop the tools and bring together the best people to help accelerate the translation of discoveries in the lab into cancer treatments. The award is not intended to find solutions to specific research questions, but to provide the resources that will enable the research community to develop these solutions.

With funding from an Accelerator Award, Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez – a renowned molecular pathologist at Queen’s University Belfast, is leading a UK-wide research partnership to help train the next generation of clinical researchers, and improve cancer diagnosis through imaging, molecular research and clinical trials.

Professor Salto-Tellez is using his expertise to establish a new training programme for molecular pathologists. This type of doctor studies and diagnoses cancer by looking at the molecules and cells in fluids and tissue samples taken from tumours – a specialism that requires many years of training and experience. They look at things like the interaction between the body’s immune system and the disease, and the presence of cancer ‘biomarkers’, which are tiny molecules that indicate the presence of the disease. Improving training and education in molecular pathology will help to drive growth and progress in this field. This in turn could help improve our understanding of cancer biomarkers, an area of research that has the potential to revolutionise the way we diagnose cancer and help doctors tailor treatments to patients according to the underlying biology of their disease.

Professor Salto-Tellez is also working with his team to establish standards of practice to make sure pathologists are interpreting and classifying samples in the same way. He is encouraging collaboration and knowledge-sharing between experts by connecting Cancer Research UK Centres of Excellence around the UK and developing new platforms that will enable researchers across the world to share their data. This will help bring together world-leaders in the field of molecular pathology, allowing them to share ideas and helping to speed up the development of better diagnostic methods and more targeted treatments for people with cancer.