MCRC Director’s Update – June 2023

Professor Robert Bristow in his office in the OCRB



I hope everyone has had a productive month. June has been eventful at the MCRC with events to mark our postgraduate researchers, celebrating the lifetime work of Prof. Juan Valle, presenting research at international conferences as well as forging ahead with new research projects and alliances.


Postgraduate research showcase

It was our pleasure at the start of the month to organise the latest Postgraduate Research Showcase in collaboration with the Division of Cancer Sciences. Early career researchers are the future of cancer research, and it is vital that they have the opportunities to present their research through poster and oral presentations. A special thank you to our two outstanding keynote speakers: Dr Laura Greaves discussing the connection between mitochondria and cancer and Dr Rebecca Lee discussing her work on translating pre-clinical research into the clinic via the CAcTUS trial.


This year was another excellent demonstration of cutting-edge science with 16 oral and 20 poster presenters showing work from the years of their PhDs. Now with the CRUK MI returning to the Withington campus at the Paterson and OCRB buildings, future collaborative events like these are going to be critical to help drive and foster our postgraduate research community.

MB-PhD Students - Left to right David Withey, Hadiyat Ogunlayi, Nadin Hawwash, Yuki Zhou, Jean Ling-Tan

Current cohort of MB-PhD students - (L-R) David Withey, Hadiyat Ogunlayi, Nadin Hawwash, Yuki Zhou, Jean Ling-Tan

Academics and PhD students at the PGR showcase in front of academic posters within the OCRB

Students discussing their posters at the Postgraduate Research Showcase

Celebrating the lifetime work of Prof. Juan Valle


Following a career at The Christie spanning more than 30 years, one of Manchester’s most accomplished clinical academics Prof. Juan Valle has decided to retire. Juan’s illustrious scientific career has led to true impact and clinical change in HPB, cholangiocarcinoma, and neuroendocrine cancer treatment in the UK and across the globe.


One of his most impactful research projects were the ABC series of trials which discovered optimal first- and second-line treatments for patients and have influenced clinical standards. Beyond his brilliance as an academic and clinician, Juan was an outstanding mentor and has helped create future HPB and clinical academic leaders. His legacy of mentees has led to many becoming leaders in their own fields across the globe.


On behalf of everyone at the MCRC, we thank Juan for his incredible work in this field, his focus on delivering excellent patient care by putting patients at the heart of research and wish him all the best in his retirement plans.


A photo from Juan Valle's retirement celebration showing all the guests who attended the celebration

Attendees at Juan Valle's retirement celebration

Presentation at International Conferences

June has continued to be an active conference season, with ASCO, CRUK-ARR Radiotherapy Research Conference, EACR, and the Gordon Research Seminar on Cancer Nanotechnology all taking place this month with our researchers delivering their research at an international level.


Manchester had another strong of its Medical Oncology research at ASCO 2023 with our researchers included in 43 abstracts across poster, oral and submitted research papers. No doubt the highlight of the conference was Dr David Thomson who spoke about the NIMRAD trial, a Phase III trial looking at radiotherapy and the drug nimorazole for people with head and neck cancer.


Following ESTRO in May, Manchester had another strong radiotherapy research showing at the Radiotherapy Research Conference in Glasgow this month, with Gareth Price, Prof. Kaye Williams, and Prof. James O’Connor all speaking about their radiotherapy, data and imaging research.


Finally, congratulations to the team from Manchester, including Dr Marilena Hadjidemetriou and Prof. Kostas Kostarelos, for their work presented at the GRS Nanotechnology conference in the USA. As a growing research theme taking advantage of the advanced materials and cancer research foci within Manchester, it is encouraging to see how nanotechnologies are bridging the gap with translational pre-clinical cancer research.

In other developments from across the MCRC

  • This month I was in Cambridge to meet collaborators around an excited new immunology project we are working on in collaboration with Cambridge, UCL, and our USA partners OHSU in Oregon and Stanford.


  • Members of the MCRC team were involved in a training ‘Cultural Competency’ workshop organised by the charity Can Survive UK. Feedback from the group who attended has been incredibly positive with the workshop aiming to identify new ways to engage with the local community and drive new initiatives within patient and public engagement and involvement with the aim of co-creating more research projects in the future.


  • Members of the MCRC senior leadership team and I met with our counterparts at the Henry Royce Institute this month to scope potential future collaborative efforts. We have identified several interesting areas of collaboration including in radiotherapy, pathology, and tissue structure and will be building these collaborations further over the coming months.


  • I also joined virtually the Scientific Advisory Board for Gustave Roussy assessing their research programmes and ambitions.


I hope that everyone has a productive July and I look forward to updating you about further activities from the MCRC at the end of the month.


Robert Bristow

Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre

Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre



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