MCRC Director’s Update – December 2021

Professor Robert Bristow in his office in the OCRB

Hello everyone, this will be the final update of 2021 before, what I hope will be, a long and much deserved break for everyone. We’re all very much looking forward to taking a few weeks off to come back refreshed and ready for 2022.


December has certainly not been a quiet month for us at the MCRC, and as we face the re-imposition of restrictions in the wake of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, I hope that everyone is well and keeping up to date with the current Government and organisation guidance designed to keep us all safe.


While we are building up to the holiday season, I am delighted to share that two of our newsletters focusing on our trainee activities in Manchester have now been published:

  • The Autumn/Winter edition of our Training and Education Newsletter focuses on the multi-faceted achievements of our postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers from across the MCRC partnership and it is now available on the MCRC website
  • The Winter edition of The Christie International Fellowship Programme Newsletter is now also available on the MCRC website and focuses on the many accomplishments of clinical fellows at The Christie.


2021 in reflection

This year has continued to demonstrate the many challenges we face as a collective research organisation: research funding is more competitive and contracted than ever; expert healthcare professionals have worked diligently to keep services going under difficult circumstances; and laboratory researchers have continued to press ahead with their life-saving research. I want to thank everyone once again for the continued professionalism in the face of the most challenging environment we have ever encountered as cancer researchers.


Reflecting on 2021, we have multiple reasons to look back on this year with some positivity. It has been a year filled with research excellence from the numerous high quality research papers – a selection of which have been spotlighted in our 2020/2021 Annual Report – to developing our international collaborations.


This past year, we have continued to build upon our Memorandum of Understanding with colleagues in Kenya, that first started in 2020, with further key meetings throughout the year. Our goal is to create a hub and spoke model to improve cancer services in Kenya. This year we also completed further discussions with colleagues from KUTRRH (Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital) and Kisii County to take our vision of Precision Medicine For All to the next level. We’re keen to develop these foundations further in 2022 with several collaborative workshops, and new potential grants to meet our ambitions.


One of the more striking developments to have taken place in the past year is in relation to the new Paterson facility. Construction has accelerated quite strikingly, to the extent that the site is almost unrecognisable compared to one year ago. As the building has now reached the highest point of construction, attention is turning to fine tuning the interior of the building and ensuring the activities within it maximise the potential of the team science and co-location.

View from the top of the OCRB on December 2020 showing the Paterson facility site with construction beginning in the basement area

View from the OCRB on the 15th December 2020.

Manchester Cancer Research Centre | MCRC Director’s Update – December 2021

View from the OCRB on the 14th December 2021.

Continuing with our focus on virtual and accessible events, this past year will perhaps be more notable for several large-scale events within the midst of many high-quality seminars, workshops, and Director’s Lectures:

  • On World Cancer Day 2021 in the middle of the Winter Lockdown, cancer doctors, researchers and patients from across Greater Manchester collaborated with Manchester poet Tony Walsh on ‘Innit Love’, highlighting the continued commitment to cancer services
  • This was then followed by Virtual Cancer Week organised by Greater Manchester Cancer featuring public engagement sessions, sessions focused on radiotherapy, early detection, living with and beyond cancer and finally our international impact
  • In Summer, our early detection team hosted the ACED Early Detection Summer School for almost 100 delegates to showcase some of the latest innovations in early detection research
  • In Autumn, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester launched a temporary exhibit called Cancer Revolution: Science, Innovation and Hope that is open until March 2022. Featuring several of our academic researchers, you can find out more about the exhibition in the latest MCRC Blog


2022 and beyond

Looking ahead to next year, I’m very confident that 2022 will be a tremendous year for cancer research in Manchester. There are several exciting developments underway, with perhaps the most exciting being the Paterson facility due to open in December 2022. Throughout the next year we will continue to communicate how this new build will accelerate and prime the future direction of cancer research in Manchester.


In closing, I’d also like to draw attention to a new Seminar Series that has been established as a collaboration between the CRUK Manchester and Barts Centres. ‘Let’s Talk About …’ is our joint inclusivity seminar series that focuses on specific topics in equality, diversity and inclusivity and is open to everyone in Manchester.


The first seminar is Let’s talk about LGBTQ+ in Cancer Research and takes place on the 10th January 2022 12pm -1pm. Our agenda includes talks from Dr Dan Saunders and I, as well as introductions from the leaders from the leadership of both centres. You can sign up now via Eventbrite.


I hope everyone has a fantastic and relaxing holiday and I look forward to speaking with you all in the new year.



Happy Holidays in 2021 from the MCRC Team


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