MCRC Director’s Update – April 2024

Professor Robert Bristow in his office in the OCRB

Hello, and welcome to your April Director’s update. I hope that you are enjoying the start of spring and looking forward to the warmer weeks ahead.

April has been a busy month for conferences and collaborations, and this short update should give you an idea of some of the activities myself and the MCRC have been engaging in.


AACR 2024


From the 5th – 10th April 2024, some of our researchers ventured to San Diego, for the AACR Annual Meeting which highlights the work of the best minds in cancer research from institutions all over the world.

This annual meeting is an opportunity for scientists, clinicians, patients, survivors, and advocates to share the latest advances in cancer science and medicine, with this year’s themes of ‘inspiring science’, ‘fuelling progress’ and ‘revolutionizing care’.


‘Team womb’ AACR award for Team Science


Our very own Manchester ‘Team Womb’ was presented with the prestigious “AACR award for Team Science”, for their pioneering work on Lynch-syndrome associated endometrial cancer.

The collective, headed by Professor Emma Crosbie, received this award at the 2024 AACR Annual Meeting on Sunday 7th April, in recognition of their outstanding interdisciplinary research and innovative and meritorious science that has ‘advanced or may advance our fundamental knowledge of cancer, or has applied existing knowledge to advancing the detection, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of cancer’.

The Team led a research programme that identified significant gaps in knowledge about Lynch syndrome-associated endometrial cancer. They found a lack of clinical guidelines and inconsistent delivery of care across the UK and completely reversed this on behalf of our patients.

Following this study, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) commissioned an expert advisory group to assess the evidence, and resulted in a change in guidance which recommends universal testing of all endometrial cancer patients for Lynch syndrome. This new guideline means that in the UK, 1000 people a year with Lynch Syndrome will now benefit from cancer preventions.

Read more in this MCRC blog.

Manchester Cancer Research Centre | MCRC Director’s Update – April 2024

From left to right: Prof. Ray McMahon, Ms Nadira Narine, Prof. Katherine Payne, Dr Louise Gorman, Prof. Emma Crosbie, Dr Neil Ryan, Dr Rhona McVey, Dr James Bolton. Also Prof. Gareth Evans and Dr Durgesh Rana (not shown). Credit: Sally Best

AACR Scholar-in-Training Awards


I was delighted to see that Clinical Research Training Fellow, Dr Laura Woodhouse, and newly appointed Senior Lecturer in Cancer Biology, Dr Jon Lim, have both received an AACR Scholar-in-Training Award.


These awards are highly competitive and were incepted to recognise ‘outstanding young investigators presenting meritorious proffered papers at the AACR Annual Meeting.’


Dr Laura Woodhouse was presented the 2024 AACR Scholar-in-Training Awards supported by an independent educational grant from for her abstract on KRAS mutant lung adenocarcinoma is associated with distinct mutational signature profiles.


Dr Jon Lim, who recently completed his Medical Oncology training at The Christie, was presented the AACR-Pezcoller Foundation Scholar-in-Training Award for his PhD work deciphering the role of the dendritic cell receptor DNGR-1 in shaping immunity to cancer. We are delighted that he will be returning to Manchester as a Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Cell Therapy later this year.


FASTMAN visit – Prostate Cancer Team Science


As part of the FASTMAN centre of excellence, I was delighted to welcome our Belfast colleagues to the Paterson Building where we had a very productive meeting to discuss key successes and future collaborations between our two cities.  

I am very proud to say that the impact of our FASTMAN programme has shown support for practice changing trials and strengthen our Belfast-Manchester relations on sharing invaluable datasets and knowledge in our biological understanding of prostate cancer. We also explored different ways of building training pipelines for Medical Physics and continue to work between the two centres on this. 

During this, I had the pleasure of hosting Hayley Luxton who is a Senior Research Impact and Intelligence Manager at Prostate Cancer UK, where we discussed our strength of future FASTMAN collaborations in imaging  and genomics/DNA repair. 

I am excited to move this collaboration forward with various opportunities for future trials. 

Rob and MCRC team with Belfast colleagues at the FASTMAN centre of excellence

Prostate Cancer UK – From Ideas to Innovation


I was delighted to present in London at the Prostate Cancer UK ‘From Ideas to Innovation’ event alongside many other academics including our very own Dr Mick Brown (who sat on the Scientific Organising Committee), Dr Alan McWilliam, Dr Ashwin Sachdeva and Dr Jane Shortall.

I presented on the intra and inter-tumoral genetic and microenvironment prognostic factors that address relative aggression of high-risk locally advanced prostate cancer.

Dr Alan McWilliam presented his research on developing methodologies to data mine the radiotherapy dose directly, aiming to uncover hidden associations with anatomical sub-regions and patient outcomes and developing image-based biomarkers to aid with treatment personalisation and risk stratification.

Dr Ashwin Sachdeva presented on his work on imaging biomarkers within the STAMPEDE trial, evaluating long-term toxicity of therapies using routinely collected health data, and development of AI-driven spatial infrared spectroscopy.

Dr Jane Shortall discussed prostate cancer risk, discussing her current work on developing risk stratification models based on a man’s anatomy, biological make-up, and response to treatment over time, with the aim of moving towards more personalised treatment for all prostate cancer patients.

This was a great event that focussed on how we as researchers can best support our community and enable each other to accelerate the impact of our research.


RB PCUK Talk April 24

In other developments from the MCRC


One in Two Season 2 finale


This month, we released our One in Two Season Finale with Professor Matt Evison and patient Sally Hayton, a never smoker with ALK positive lung cancer.


This episode, namely “Never-smoking lung cancer with Professor Matt Evison and patient Sally Hayton: Overcoming barriers to early detection in symptomatic lung cancer patients” marks the finale in a five-part season. Find out more and listen here.


You can also tune into the rest of Season 2, ‘Lung Cancer: From basic biology to transformative therapies’ here.


MCRC Springboard Awards 


With generous support from the CRUK Manchester Centre and Cancer Research Horizons, The Manchester Cancer Research Centre launched the Springboard Award to support early-stage innovations showing the greatest potential to deliver patient impact with a pump prime funding programme that will accelerate these projects to reaching their full potential.


We are pleased to announce the winners of our Springboard awards, which will support individuals to explore routes for commercialisation and innovation.


These are:

  • Dr Alicia-Marie Conway and Dr Alexandra Clipson for their project on Blood-based biomarker discovery for the diagnosis and early detection of Biliary Tract Cancers (BTC)
  • Dr Robert Chuter for their project on Investigating the use of liver function MR images for bio-adaption in radiotherapy
  • Professor Brian Derby and Dr Stephen Edmondson for their project on Next-generation phantoms for MRI-Linac guided radiotherapy
  • Michael Dubec for their project on Comparison of gene-derived and oxygen-enhanced MRI-derived hypoxia markers in head and neck cancer


Read more in our MCRC blog.


A look to the month ahead


  • Members of our Radiotherapy Research groups will be travelling to Glasgow at the start of May for ESTRO Congress 2024. This congress theme will be ‘Radiation Oncology: Bridging the Care Gap’.


  • On Thursday 9th May 2024, 16:00-17:00, four Ukrainian presenters: Dr Lesia Mytsak, Dr Maryna Sokolovska, Dr Liudmila Bordiuh, and Dr Serhii Mykhiliuk, will visit Manchester and speak about delivering radiotherapy in Ukraine. We hope you’ll join us in the Oglesby Cancer Research Building Lecture Theatre for what should be an exceptional seminar.


  • I’m very excited for the fifth Greater Manchester Cancer Conference on the 14th-15th May. The agenda will cover the full breadth of the cancer pathway in Manchester, also spotlighting several impactful research projects. I’m also excited that several research projects have been shortlisted for the GM Cancer Awards on the evening of the 14th May, and look forward to seeing which projects are announced as winners!


I wish everyone an enjoyable May and will update you all at the end of next month.


Robert Bristow

Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre

Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre



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