MCRC Director’s Update – December 2023

Professor Robert Bristow in his office in the OCRB

In my final update of 2023, I want to reflect on the past year and acknowledge and celebrate the incredible contributions of our many scientific researchers.


2023 Reflection

2023 has been a year of discovery, innovation, and reconnection. The re-opening of the Paterson Building in April 2023 represented the homecoming and culmination of more than six year’s work to create a thriving cancer research campus. By creating a single site for exemplar cancer research, we have now combined the research strengths of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, Division of Cancer Sciences and The Christie Research and Innovation that will catalyse next decade of cancer research for the MCRC. I know that over the next decade, we will see positive outcomes for our research and our patients through increased clinical and pre-clinical  scientific collaborations.

Like all other years, 2023 has seen the launch of many novel research interdisciplinary trials such as BCAN-RAY and RAPID-RT. They contribute to the strong portfolio of over 800 clinical studies currently active at The Christie that provide cutting-edge clinical opportunities to people affected by cancer. Spotlighting two trials currently actively recruiting, in 2023, we’ve seen the launch of:

  • DETERMINE – seeking to repurpose existing clinical trials for paediatric and adult cancers
  • TARGET National – matching patients to clinical trials based on their genomic alterations


Finally, 2023 is also a year to reflect and celebrate the achievements of several colleagues who, after many years of research, have decided to retire or move on to new research realms:

  • In March, we celebrated Professor Catharine West, who led the Radiobiology research group and who leaves a legacy on the field of radiotherapy biomarkers and biology.
  • In June, we celebrated Professor Juan Valle, who has changed the international treatment landscape for people affected by pancreatic, biliary, and neuroendocrine tumours through a prestigious career of clinical trials.
  • Also in June, we celebrated the work of Professor Tony Howell. His career, spanning over four decades, implemented paradigm-changing targeted drug therapies for breast cancer, such as tamoxifen, anastrozole and goserelin and the first in class selective estrogen receptor downregulator (SERD), fulvestrant.


Annual Report 2022/2023

Further cementing the outstanding work of the MCRC over the past year, this past month, we launched our Annual Report 2023. Our latest report documents the research milestones, funding achievements, and new clinical trials in Manchester that are contribute to our vision of creating a future free from the burden of cancer covering:

  • The development of novel clinical trials such as TARGET National, rEECur, DETERMINE, POBIG and RAPID-RT.
  • Our international cancer research programme, including the strong partnership developing between Manchester and Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital to improve the lives of people with oesophageal cancer in Kenya.
  • Renewals and updates from many Manchester Centres of Excellence, including the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, Cancer Research UK RadNet Manchester, ACED, and CRUK Manchester Centre.


In other developments from the MCRC

  • Congratulations to Professor Noel Clarke, has been awarded the Michael Margberger Award from the Association of Academic European Urologists (AAEU) at their 2023 conference. The lecture award is only given to members of the AAEU who have contributed significantly to its meetings by presentations and contribution to the discussions at the very highest level.


I wish everyone a restful holiday break. I look forward to updating you all again in January to mark the start of 2024 and let’s make it the best year yet for your research and its impact.


Rob Bristow



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