MCRC Director’s Update – April 2022
I hope everyone is well and has had an enjoyable and productive April.
CRUK Manchester Centre: A New Vision of Cancer Precision for All
This month marks the beginning of the new Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre. With our new vision of delivering Cancer Precision for All by harnessing inclusive translational science and clinical excellence, my aim is for the Manchester Centre to be a core pillar in helping to drive the impactful new scientific discoveries directly into the clinic and deliver meaningful change directly to patients.
The Manchester Centre joins Cancer Research UK’s new network of seven Centres across the UK, linking Cambridge, Oxford, City of London, Convergence Science, Newcastle and Scotland.
In Manchester, the Centre will continue to drive translational science across our five cross-cutting research themes:
- Cancer Biomarkers,
- Experimental Cancer Medicine,
- Cancer Early Detection,
- Integrative Pathology and
- Radiotherapy BioAdaption.
It is great recognition of our heritage and ambition that we join this new Centre network, and we now look ahead to the science that will be continuing in Manchester.
With our new vision of delivering Cancer Precision for All by harnessing inclusive translational science and clinical excellence, my aim is for the Manchester Centre to be a core pillar in helping to drive the impactful new scientific discoveries directly into the clinic and deliver meaningful change directly to patients.
Prof. Rob Bristow
Director, Manchester Cancer Research Centre
To recognise the discoveries and showcase our scientific ambitions, I was very pleased to officially launch the CRUK Manchester Centre at our Launch Celebration event held on the 26th of April. This event was a major development for us not only because it was the first in-person event we have held in the Oglesby Cancer Research Building since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because it was our first hybrid event. For me, one of the most enjoyable elements about this event was undoubtedly the ability to network and meet people we have either never met in person or haven’t seen in years. I’m very excited to see how we can utilise this new format of events to stimulate more scientific discussion.
Joining me in this event was Dr Claire Trinder, who will be managing the delivery of the new Centre objectives as well as representatives of our themes:
- Prof. Caroline Dive – Cancer Biomarkers
- Dr Matthew Krebs – Experimental Cancer Medicine,
- Prof. Emma Crosbie – Cancer Early Detection
- Prof. David Wedge – Integrative Pathology
- Prof. Marcel van Herk – Radiotherapy BioAdaption
The next five years offer an exciting time to translate new innovations in basic and discovery science directly into the clinic. Recognising these translational research opportunities, I was pleased that Roger Spencer, Chief Executive at The Christie, was also able to join us for the launch and speak about the Manchester ecosystem and environment that supports innovation.
It is important to also state that the scientific influence of the Centre goes beyond our core research themes, and researchers across Manchester will benefit this Team Science approach to collaboration and expertise sharing. I was therefore also pleased to share the floor with Dr Sankari Nagarajan, one of the early career researchers funded by CRUK who spoke about her research in her talk: “Linking chromatin architecture to endocrine resistance”. Moreover, we are fortunate in The University of Manchester to have several researchers with highly competitive CRUK Programme Grants. Speaking about his Programme grant, Professor Stephen Taylor outlined work that he has led in developing new novel therapeutic strategies for ovarian cancer.
Beyond the scientific activities from the centre, it was also an opportunity to showcase how the Centre will support our wider research community. Rachel Chown, our Education and Development Lead discussed the education opportunities available through our collaboration with the University of Leeds for clinical research training fellows and the Yale University for the Digital Futures programme. Additionally, Rebecca Elliott showcased the Cancer Research Project Managers Network, a network of individuals across the university and NHS, to encourage and support the development of project managers. And finally, Dr Nathalie Dhomen spoke about ambitions in commercialisation and business development.
All these elements are essential for a functioning Centre to operate effectively, and it was encouraging to see so many people both in the OCRB and virtually engage with the scientific themes and professional services of the Centre to support our delivery. I look forward to updating everyone more in future about further activities from the Centre.
Developments from across the MCRC
I’d like to formally welcome Dr Nathalie Dhomen, who has joined the MCRC Strategic Team as the Innovation and Commercialisation Lead. Many of our colleagues may know Nathalie as she joins us from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute where she spent many successful years in the Molecular Oncology group. Nathalie will be working alongside The University of Manchester’s Innovation Factory CRUK Commercial Partnerships Search and Evaluation Team and the MCRC to identify innovations, intellectual partnerships and opportunities for commercialisation and collaboration. We want to welcome her to the team and look forward to accelerating our ambitions in commercialisation and business development and engagement.
Next month we will be continuing our Let’s Talk About…. seminar collaboration with the CRUK Barts Centre. Our next seminar will be ‘Let’s Talk about Mental Health and Loneliness in Research’ and we are joined by Prof. Pamela Qualter, Professor of Education at The University of Manchester. If you wish to attend, please register via Eventbrite.
Earlier this month, I was invited to speak at a Janssen Prostate Cancer UK Summit on recent advances in prostate cancer research. After which I co-chaired a panel discussion focused on advances from diagnosis to treatment.
I was also invited to give a keynote address at the MMRSSoc Annual Undergraduate Conference showcasing our approach to building back from COVID through international engagement.
I wish everyone a good May and will speak soon.