MCRC Director’s Update – July 2022

Professor Robert Bristow in his office in the OCRB



I hope everyone has had an enjoyable summer and has coped with the record heat that we have encountered.


These summer months have been a time of establishing and assessing our capabilities with multiple workshops conferences and scientific events to build collaborations.


Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre Scientific Deep Dive

Most recently we held our first scientific deep dive for the renewed Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre. As part of the new centre structure, each quarter we are going to be taking a deeper look into specific themes and projects within the centre with the aim of identifying synergistic collaborations.


Attended by central CRUK admin team, we showcased the Experimental Cancer Medicine theme around new nationally-led trials and digital approaches to clinical insights and care. We heard from Amanda Rees(ECM), Dr Donna Graham (ECM) and Dr Andre Freitas (digital ECMT and Computer Sciences, University of Manchester). We are in an excellent position to drive AI-driven trials and can use clinical insights to inform mechanistic science and biology driven trials in the future.  In addition, Jane Rogan from Integrated Pathology updated about the development and progress of the MCRC Biobank. She focused on delivering complex biospecimen collection across biology-driven trials and linking the biobank to the electronic health record at the Christie; the latter has challenges but also great opportunities.


GM Cancer Conference Awards

I’m also delighted to see that the Greater Manchester Cancer is launching its inaugural awards to coincide with the 2022 conference. The past two years during the ongoing COVID -19 pandemic demonstrate the need to take stock and celebrate our many achievements and successes. Applications are now open and close on the 31st August and cover six categories:

I know first-hand the exceptional nature of research in Manchester that impacts on our GM conurbation. I highly encourage anyone in a laboratory or clinical research environment who thinks their work meets this high bar to consider submitting their work for an award.


Other developments from the MCRC


  • The MCRC was also represented by Dr Claire Trinder at the Division of Cancer Sciences first annual away day as I was chairing the CRUK Clinical Research Panel. While I was sad not to be able to attend in person, I was prebriefed by Stephen Taylor and debriefed by our team. DCS and MCRC leads have regular meetings and align recruitment in the non-clinical and clinical space and the away day was an excellent refresh to joint ambitions.


  • We held our first or two collaborative workshops with University of Toronto funded by a Manchester-Toronto networking award from The University of Manchester covering technologies and trials to probe heterogeneity in the tumour microenvironment (TME). Led by Prof. Marianne Koritzinsky and I, across two sessions and 11 speakers, we looked at our common areas of interest in TME data capture and analysis, hypoxia biomarkers, patient selection, as well the next symposium focused on glioblastoma to bring together ambitions from the MCRC and Geoffrey Jefferson Brain Research Centre. We’re in the process now of arranging other follow-up workshops and reciprocal travel; if you have an interest in this area and wish contacts in Toronto – please liaise with me and get involved.


  • I was invited to speak at the National University Singapore (NUS) Centre for Cancer Research as part of their Distinguished Research series. My presentation covered our work in hypoxia research, multi-omics, and the evolutionary trajectory of localised prostate cancer. I will be visiting them to chair their Scientific Advisory Board later in November this year.


Like many of you, I will be taking some time away to rest and reassess over the next month so the next time I provide an update will be for our September bulletin. I hope everyone has an enjoyable summer period and I look forward to seeing you all soon.





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