MCRC Director’s Update – February 2024

Professor Robert Bristow in his office in the OCRB

Hello and welcome to my second update of 2024. I hope the new year is treating you kindly and I know we are all looking to the warmer weather that’s just on the horizon.

February has been a month with a lot of international travel for myself, leading to a short update on some of my activities.


World Cancer Day


Sunday 4th February marked World Cancer Day, in which we at the MCRC were able to reflect on our achievements to deliver cancer care for all. I want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to our international supporters, collaborators, researchers, and patients who are helping us to close the care gap.

This year, we spotlighted several activities from the MCRC:


  • Simon Reeds – MCRC Outreach and Engagement Manager – Dr Jen Davies-Oliveira – Clinical Research Training Fellow – co-wrote an article reflecting on Jen’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity work in this University of Manchester blog. Read here about how Jen and her team are addressing cancer healthcare inequalities in the LGBTQIA+ community.


  • We spotlighted a special episode of our One in Two podcast with Dr Emma Woodward and patient Nick Brown. This episode discussed Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS), a rare cancer predisposing condition which gives you a 70% lifetime risk of developing cancer. Dr Woodward discussed the ATLAS study which she is running in collaboration with Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto, Canada. This study is working to change cancer detection in people with LFS.


  • We worked with The Christie School of Oncology to highlight the activities of our International Clinical Fellows. This latest issue also spotlighted the work of Dr Diego Sanchez-Martinez a current clinical research training fellow from my CRUK MI laboratory. You can read about their experiences in the latest newsletter now available on the MCRC website.


Our research is truly international, and we are lucky to be represented by such a talented, global team working together to combat cancer.

Manchester Cancer Research Centre - MCRC Director’s Update – February 2024

Executive Advisory Board in Kenya

Prof Phil Quirke (EAB), Prof Fiona Walter (EAB), Dr Rose Oronje (EAB), Prof George Njoroge, Rob, Prof Diana Menya (EAB), Prof Olive Mugenda (KUTRRH Chairperson)

Manchester Cancer Research Centre - MCRC Director’s Update – February 2024

Executive Advisory Board in Kenya

During the external advisory board’s trip to Kiambu county, Professor Diana Menya tries on the Community Health Promoters kit that helps them to play a vital role in the government’s preventive and promotive health approach.

Manchester Cancer Research Centre - MCRC Director’s Update – February 2024

Dresden visit to the Centre for Radiation Research in Oncology

Colleagues and research partners from the MCRC and Dresden met to discuss international training opportunities in radiotherapy in Germany.

More Research, Less Cancer


Cancer Research UK have launched their latest campaign to build a cancer free future: More Research, Less Cancer. We are fully supportive of this latest drive to increase funding for vital cancer research.

As part of the fundraising efforts, colleagues from across the world have penned a joint letter in recognition of our collective effort. This letter, co-signed by Professor Nic Jones, Professor Caroline Dive and Professor Nancy Rothwell represents Manchester’s commitment to joining a combined effort that realises a vision of a cancer free future.


Executive Advisory Board in Kenya


I am delighted to say that we are now half-way through a three-year NIHR funded project which is focussed on improving oesophageal cancer early detection. This project is run in collaboration with Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH), The University of Manchester and The Christie International.

This month, Dr Sinead Savage, Rachel Chown, and I joined members of Professor David Wedge’s lab group to travel to Kenya for an Executive Advisory Board meeting. During this time, a team from Mount Kenya University alongside our team from Manchester delivered a bioinformatics session as part of this ongoing NIHR partnership. We focussed on clinical bioinformatics, cancer evolution and a workshop looking at cancer mutations and signatures.

It was fantastic to meet again with our collaborators on a successful visit, and we are excited for another year collaboration.


In other developments from the MCRC


  • This month, colleagues from the MCRC and I travelled to Dresden to visit the Centre for Radiation Research in Oncology (OncoRay). During this time, we discussed international training opportunities in radiotherapy in Germany. We had many positive discussions, and we look forward to our continued joint programming.


  • Congratulations to Professor Caroline Dive who featured in a Guardian labs article on “How technology is helping to prevent and diagnose an array of cancers.” Read more on Professor Dive’s liquid biopsy work here.


In late February to early March, I will be going to several conferences. One of which is the University of Cambridge and AstraZeneca Annual PhD symposium, where I will be participating as a panellist.


I look forward to updating you on this and other activities next month.


Robert Bristow

Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre

Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre



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