MCRC Director’s Update – March 2023

Professor Robert Bristow in his office in the OCRB

Hello! I hope everyone has had a productive March. This month, the MCRC has celebrated the valuable contributions from our female researchers as part of International Women’s Day, we’re taking significant strides closer to the opening of our new cancer research facility, and we’ve been celebrating many of our researchers who have been recognised as NIHR Senior Investigators.


International Women’s Day

To mark international Women’s Day and celebrate the accomplishments of our various female researchers, we had the opportunity to help organise a symposium for our researchers to share experiences, knowledge, and advice for the next generation. It was a great opportunity to hear directly from individuals speak about their extraordinary leadership in Manchester and their global impact.


The symposium itself provided an exciting avenue to hear from many different people’s experiences within cancer research, from project management and engagement activities to professors and PhD students. There are still further challenges to overcome to make the whole world an equitable place for research, but the progress to date cannot be understated. The MCRC aims to continue to highlight and promote the creation of a more equitable workplace.

Prof. Anna Scaife presenting at the International Women's day event

Prof. Anna Scaife presenting during International Women's Day event in March

Dr Beenish Siddique presenting at the International Women's Day event in March

Dr Beenish Siddique presenting during International Women's Day event in March

NIHR senior researchers

Early this month, the government’s main funder of health research, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) announced the appointment of its new Senior Investigators recognising several cancer researchers and collaborators. Congratulations to Professors Janelle Yorke, Corinne Faivre-Finn, and Katherine Payne who have been newly appointed NIHR Senior Investigators as well as Professor Tim Illidge who was re-appointed as a Senior Investigator.


NIHR recognition is very prestigious and symbolises the volume and quality of internationally excellent research, relevance to patients and the public and impact on improvements in healthcare and public health. Congratulations on such a prominent achievement! You can find out more about this prestigious award, please see our news story.


Paterson Redevelopment Progress

For our Withington colleagues you will no doubt have witnessed the significant progress in building construction that has occurred on the new cancer research facility on the site of the former Paterson building. With the majority of construction now completed and the finishing touches on our £150m new cancer research facility being applied, attention is now turning to executing our moving in process.


At the time of writing, we’re imminently expecting the building to be handed over from the construction team to our new owners marking a significant moment when the building becomes our new research home. Once this process happens, our teams in The Christie Research and Innovation Division, Division of Cancer Sciences, and Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute will then commence with an extensive move in process that is expected to take several months.


This is an exciting moment that in our progress back after the devastating fire in 2017. As we approach the sixth anniversary of that fire, it is incredible to think that we’re on the precipice of returning to our new state-of-the-art facility that will enable cancer research to thrive. Stay tuned to more updates from our teams as we begin the next phase of our redevelopment.


Wisdom From ‘The West’

Professor Catharine West has left a legacy on the fields of radiobiology and hypoxia radiotherapy research. It was incredibly fitting then that following her retirement in 2022, members of the Radiotherapy Related Research team organised a conference to recognise her legacy, impart some of her wisdoms for the future generations, and celebrate the exiting future of radiobiology research.


Wisdom from ‘The West’ held between the 15th and 17th March 2023, boasted an eclectic group of scientists spotlighting several of Catharine’s research successes and look ahead to future developments in hypoxia research, gene signatures and biomarkers, leading to clinical applications.


As a great advocator for collaboration, Catharine has worked on an impressive portfolio involving international speakers. It was fitting then that the conference featured 24 speakers from 11 different countries all with stories about how they have worked and learned from Catharine’s work.


Some of the wisdoms shared by speakers and Catharine herself are documented in our blog live on our website.


In other developments from the MCRC

  • Congratulations to Dr Matthew Krebs and the DETERMINE Team who won the Healthcare Project of the Year Award at the Bionow awards on the 16th The award is recognition of the DETERMINE Trail which aims to provide treatments to those with rare cancers by aiming to repurpose currently licensed drugs to target tumours with similar genetic profiles.
  • Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute have launched the latest round of Cancer Grand Challenges. We’re extremely excited about this funding call and progress is underway to work collaboratively with our partners in America, Australia, Africa and Asia to develop our expression of interest and prospective competitive application.
  • In March, I visited Institut Curie as part of their Scientific Advisory Board where it has been excellent to see potential areas of scientific overlap and synergy.
  • One final congratulations is to a member of our International Advisory Board, Professor Patricia LoRusso who has been elected as President-Elect for the American Association for Cancer Research for 2023-2024 recognising the extensive nature of her research portfolio.



Robert Bristow

Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre

Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre


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