Cancer Research UK will invest over £100 million across 15 cutting-edge research centres to help get new treatments and diagnostics to cancer patients sooner, it was revealed today.
The investment marks the latest phase in the development of the Cancer Research UK Centres network of excellence – a unique chain of research hubs that have been established across the country. This new £100m of funding will further draw together world class research and medical expertise to provide the best possible results for cancer patients nationwide.
The Cancer Research UK Centres are in: Belfast; Cambridge; Cardiff; Edinburgh; Barts, London; Glasgow; Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden, London; Leeds; Leicester; Manchester; Newcastle; Oxford; Southampton; Imperial College, London; and UCL, London.
This initiative brings together researchers and support from local universities, the NHS and Cancer Research UK. Each Centre will focus on specific areas of research and aim to raise standards of care and forge links with local communities. Collaboration is key to the success of the Centres network – they will enable researchers who do not normally work together to exchange ideas and information more easily.
A core part of the network’s role will involve training the next generation of cancer researchers. Nearly 200 PhDs will be funded through the network, including around 80 PhDs specifically for cancer clinicians. This is the largest cancer focused cohort of clinical PhDs in the EU.
The investment follows an extensive process overseen by an international panel of experts who chose the centres with the most exciting potential to deliver advances in cancer research to benefit patients. In total 21 locations applied to be part of the network of excellence.
Over the next few years Cancer Research UK aims to continue the development of its Centres initiative by providing funding to enable Centres in different locations to collaborate. In this way experts from across the network will work together towards a common goal of beating cancer sooner.
Professor Margaret Frame, science director of the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre, and member of the CRUK Training and Career Development Board said: “This is great news. This funding will help build closer links between scientists and doctors – and that will increase the pace of research, leading to improved treatments for patients.
“The clinical PhDs are especially important – making sure that clinicians have the opportunity to do research as part of their role opens up many opportunities for discovery and innovation in tackling the biggest challenges in cancer research. We also know that there is a shortage of clinician scientists, so this will greatly help.
“But it’s also incredibly important for us to train the next generation of cancer researchers. The pace of discovery is such that we must ensure we’re offering the brightest scientists the opportunity to be part of a very exciting time in the field of cancer research.”
Professor Sir Bruce Ponder, director of the Cambridge Cancer Research UK Centre, added: “The network is giving us unprecedented opportunities to work effectively across the local hospital and university environment, while also opening up broader avenues for us to work with scientists in other Cancer Research UK centres around the country.
“This new funding will also help forge collaborations with other scientific fields that can help cancer research – in today’s fight against cancer we are pulling in support from many areas – physics, engineering, maths and many others that can help us have a real impact.
“All of this is especially important when working on rarer cancers or those cancers that are harder to detect and treat. For us, that means more opportunities to collaborate on pancreatic, oesophageal and lung cancers. And that means a better chance of making a discovery that could lead to a new treatment in those cancers.”
Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Funding these centres of excellence is one of the charity's priorities and will enable us to work towards the goals we have set to improve the treatment and survival of cancer patients. We must make sure we have the infrastructure to enable and push the boundaries in translational research – it’s an area that doesn’t get enough support or funding, but it’s a core part of what we must do – get the discoveries out of the lab and to the patient’s bedside. We also have unprecedented opportunities to learn lessons from how individual patients respond to treatments. This can help us better target treatments to patients who will benefit most, but also help to develop new treatments for those who will not.
“None of that is possible without the generous donations we receive from the public. It is an incredible story of collaboration – the public, cancer patients, scientists, the NHS, universities and Cancer Research UK – all working together to translate new discoveries into better ways to understand and beat cancer.
“We are in a golden era of cancer research. The research tools at our disposal are unprecedented and these centres will grasp the opportunities that are within reach for them. Our research is saving lives today. These centres will enable more research that will save more lives tomorrow.”