Cross-Disciplinary Research

Tackling the biggest cancer challenges together

A meeting in the OCRB

Problems are easier to solve when tackled together. We find that even the most challenging research questions can be overcome when a cross-discipline team with complementary experience and expertise is assembled and can collectively work on solutions.

Explore some examples of our multi-disciplinary research fields below.

Vials on a shelf within the laboratory
Professor Robert Bristow presenting at a Town Hall

Advanced Materials

Within the family of advanced materials being investigated within the University of Manchester, biomaterials have the greatest potential to improve lives of patients with cancer. From nanomaterials that are used for early detection and drug delivery to advanced modelling systems, biomaterials can lead to a revolution in our healthcare.


Taking place within the Henry Royce Institute and the Faculty of Science and Engineering, some of the most exciting research is taking place to advance our understanding of how cancer develops.


One exemplar project is part of the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) research and is in collaboration with Professor Sarah Cartmell. Her team are investigating materials that can be used as 3D models of human tissue for lung cancer.

Sarah Cartmell profile picture

Read more about Professor Sarah Cartmell’s research and how the 3D lung cancer tissues will further advance our understanding of how cancer develops in this Cancer Futures article “A Marriage of Giants“.

Drug Discovery

As our understanding and appreciation of cancer evolves over time, new drug molecules are going to be needed. Before a new drug molecule even reaches the clinic, it goes through an entire process of discovery, development and refinement progressing through clinical trials and multiple scientific experiments.

This multi-disciplinary process is at the core of drug discovery, taking high-quality science and providing the resources and expertise to translate lab discoveries into the clinic.

Professor Stephen Taylor headshot

Professor Stephen Taylor has collaborated to develop PARG inhibitors to treat ovarian cancer. Read more about his research in ‘Taking Discovery Research Up a Gear‘ in Cancer Futures.


Following the Nobel prize winning discovery of how to extract and isolate graphene in 2004 by University of Manchester Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, interests in the use of nanomaterials in oncology has grown in popularity and prevalence.

Work from Manchester’s National Graphene Institute is seeking to explore the connection between nano-materials and healthcare. Researchers such as Professor Kostas Kosterelos and his Nanomedicine Lab are exploring in vitro and in vivo studies to design and engineer novel systems that can be translated into clinical therapeutics.

Sample tubes on a laboratory bench

Professor Kostas Kostarelos is Professor and Chair of Nanomedicine at The University of Manchester. His research looks at how nanotechnology and nanomaterials can be used as advanced tools for early diagnosis, progression and treatment of cancer.

Read about his research in ‘Graphene and Cancer’.

Health Data

Following the formation of the Christabel Pankhurst Institute for Health Technology Institute for Research and Innovation, Manchester has positioned itself at the forefront of developments in health data.

This cross-disciplinary research field involves biologists, biostatisticians, computer scientists, chemists and mathematicians all working together to advance how health data is used in research.

Such projects are essential in many themes, most notably Cancer Genomics. Taking for example, the 100,000 Genome Project, researchers are involved in the collection, and analysis of genomes. This has helped transform our understanding of cancer diagnosis, prognosis and the design of personalised drug treatments.

Professor Andy Brass, professor of bioinformatics at the University of Manchester

Professor Andy Brass elaborates on the importance of health data and how we’re ‘Thinking Differently‘ when it comes to health research in this Cancer Futures article.

Cancer Futures

Read all the articles from the University of Manchester's Cancer Beacon's flagship publication


Discover more about collaboration at the MCRC.