Cancer Research UK invests £15 million to unite finest minds across UK to develop better treatments

Cancer Research UK has invested £15 million to inspire collaborative cancer research between scientists across the UK through a new awards scheme launched today.

"Effective partnerships are crucial for delivering the greatest science and boosting advancements in fighting cancer." - Dr David Scott

The Cancer Research UK Centres Network Accelerator Award is a new initiative which provides infrastructure support to research centres in order to encourage collaboration between different organisations and boost 'bench to bedside' science.

Four centres – Queens University Belfast(link is external), the University of Leicester (link is external), the Francis Crick Institute(link is external), and the University College London (link is external) – have each received a five-year grant.

Queens University Belfast* received £3.9 million to develop new pathology and image analysis techniques for solid tumours. This includes research to improve cancer diagnosis through tissue imaging, biomarker discovery, and clinical trials. The award will also invest in the next generation of scientists with a Clinical Fellowship programme in molecular pathology.

The University of Leicester** received £1.7 million to set up facilities to study structural biology among centres to improve drug development. The award will focus on research to translate the understanding of structural biology into drugs that could treat patients.

The Francis Crick Institute*** received £4.2 million to support more experimental cancer research and create Clinical Research Fellowships to help unite different research centres in London. This will help turn innovation in the laboratory into tangible benefits for patients – to save more lives from the disease in the future.

University College London**** received £5 million to help advance immunotherapy research – a field of cancer research which has shown promise for a long time and recently provided exciting breakthroughs in cancer treatments. The award will fund research to understand how patients develop immune responses – and why they stop responding to treatments. The award will also help scientists develop new therapies, and safe ways to give treatments.

Professor David Waugh, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queens University Belfast, said: "This award will allow us to accelerate the development of clinically-robust diagnostic tests that assist in personalizing cancer therapy. The network will help us set technology standards for this increasingly important and fast growing area of cancer research."

Professor Catrin Pritchard, science director at the Cancer Research UK Leicester Centre, said: "Personalised medicine is the future of cancer treatment, and by collaborating with centres across the UK, we look forward to accelerating research underpinning drug development."

Dr Richard Treisman, a research director at the Francis Crick Institute, said: "Thinking outside the box and collaborating across different disciplines and institutions is what we need to invigorate more innovative cancer research."

Professor Henning Walczak, scientific director of the Cancer Research UK – UCL Centre, said: "There has been great progress in the field of cancer immunotherapy and by collaborating with centres across London our Accelerator Network aims to bring successful cancer immunotherapies to more patients and to overcome some of the hurdles in this field."

Dr David Scott, Cancer Research UK's director of science funding, said: "Effective partnerships are crucial for delivering the greatest science and boosting advancements in fighting cancer. We're proud to invest in collaborative and innovative research across the UK with the new Centres Network Accelerator awards.  It's through working together and uniting expertise that we will do better research and save more lives."

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