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Manchester benefits from share of Cancer Research UK £100m investment

25 Nov 2013

Manchester scientists will benefit from a Cancer Research UK investment of over £100 million across cutting-edge research centres to help get new treatments and diagnostics to cancer patients sooner.

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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 Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC) is one of 15 national ‘centres of excellence’ to receive funding. The others are in: Belfast; Cambridge; Cardiff; Edinburgh; Barts, London; Glasgow; Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden, London; Leeds; Leicester; 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. Research in Manchester will target lung cancer, women’s cancers, melanoma and blood cancers; personalised medicine, radiotherapy, molecular pathology–to better understand the underlying disease processes in cancer–screening and prevention. 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 Nic Jones, director of the MCRC said: “This is fantastic news. The renewal of funding is an endorsement of the research we are doing here and of the partnership approach at the heart of the MCRC. The investment in training is especially important and will ensure that we have the expertise and skills to continue to make breakthroughs that lead to improved outcomes for cancer patients.

"Each centre of excellence brings its own areas of strength to the network. Our focus on personalised medicine reflects the strategic goal of the MCRC to develop tests and treatments better tailored to individual patients. With the new MCRC research building due to be completed in Summer 2014, we have an outstanding opportunity in Manchester to make a valuable contribution to the network of excellence and to drive research that changes lives.”

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.”