MCRC Director’s Update – November 2021
Hello, I hope everyone is safe and well and has had an enjoyable November.
I must start off this month’s Director’s Update with some very sad news. I’m sure that many of you will now be aware that our research colleague Professor Amit Patel, Consultant Haematologist at The Christie, passed away after a period of illness.
Amit was a true friend and superb colleague to many across Manchester. He was nationally recognised for his trial’s portfolio and clinical leadership in transplant and chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapies. He also chaired the Christie Fellowship Board.
His legacy is showcased in the current “Cancer Revolution: Science, Innovation and Hope” exhibition at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, with a life-size photo of Amit where he outlines the challenges for research and trials in the future. Amit will be hugely missed, and our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues at this difficult time.
International Collaborations: Kenya, Shanghai and CLARA-France
November saw the MCRC further develop our international collaborations through a series of workshops with collaborators in Kenya and Shanghai and France.
At the start of November, we welcomed a delegation of representatives from Kisii County, Kenya, to the Oglesby Cancer Research Centre. Here, we built on the foundations of our Memorandum of Understanding signed in July 2021. This acted to advance our ties and provide the skills and expertise to develop comprehensive cancer centres across Kenya to improve the outcomes of people with various forms of cancer. We had very fruitful discussions and we are now looking forward to continuing these discussions in the coming months.
We also hosted our fourth collaborative research symposium with Shanghai Jiao Tong University and colleagues from CLARA (Grenoble and Lyon) in France. Across the four days, the symposium focused on new topics for cancer research, including epidemiology, new technologies for treatments and multi-omics and AI approaches to healthcare. There are now plans for further collaborative workshops and joint training positions.
“Manchester Can” Statements: Paterson Re-Build Update and Fundraising
This month, we’ve launched the first in a series of stories that shows that Manchester Can. This issue focused on ctDNA and the series of trials including CAcTUS, TARGET and COMPASS that could enable us to “Use your blood sample to understand unique molecular features of your cancer in real-time”. You can read more in the latest MCRC Blog.
November has also seen substantial progress in the replacement Paterson facility. The building is an opportunity to show that Manchester Can rise to the global challenges through the best science that is enabled by this new build.
In other construction developments, the building has now met an impressive milestone in reaching its highest point with work well underway on the development of the interior lab blocks, electrics, and plumbing. Still on schedule to complete by December 2022, this is an exciting time where we continue to develop the synergies enabled through this new world-leading facility.
To mark this building milestone, I was invited to join a virtual ceremony with major donors for the project alongside Michelle Mitchell, Nancy Rothwell, Roger Spencer and Caroline Dive. We were thrilled to show this film featuring Nic Jones and Caroline, thanking our donors for their support. I have also been supporting the University’s fundraising teams on the wider Re-Write Cancer campaign with more appeals launching at the end of November.
I know many people reading this update want to help the development of this new cancer facility. If you can help, whether through fundraising, donations, or spreading the word, then please see more information on the Re-Write Cancer campaign.
EVENTS: NCRI 2021, Museum Exhibit, Skin Cancer Workshop, ACED
November has been a busy month for conferences, seminars and wider events.
Firstly, the “Cancer Revolution: Science, Innovation and Hope” temporary exhibit is now open at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. Here until March 2022, the exhibit features several prominent Manchester researchers and their research including Caroline Dive and ctDNA research, Fiona Thistlethwaite and CAR-T therapies, and Phil Crosbie and the Lung Health Check. I’d encourage everyone to attend the free exhibit while it’s still in Manchester.
I also hosted “NCRI Festival 2021: Making Cancer Research Better Together”. Across the five days, it was great to see the integration of so much novel science and networking spanning the many themes throughout the days.
On the 16th of November, we held the latest MCRC Workshop “Identifying Translational Research Priorities in Cutaneous SCC” organised by Dr Agata Rembielak and Dr Amaya Viros. This event embodied the Team Science ethos at the MCRC by bringing together clinicians and basic researchers to work together, and I’m very happy to have supported it. We look forward now to the next steps, and how our translational research can be accelerated.
It has now also been two years since the launch of the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED). To celebrate, Cancer Research UK held a celebration event in mid November for all the centres to discuss the next steps for the Alliance and future direction of research. Collectively, we agreed that ACED will focus on: Cancer disease progression, multi-cancer approaches and early detection tests and immunology.
ACED currently has a funding call open for pilot and project proposals in understanding disease progression for early detection. To submit an application you must complete a short “intent to submit” online form by Monday 20th December 2021, and more information can be found on the ACED website.
We’re almost at the end of the year, and I hope everyone has an exceptional December and I look forward to updating you prior to the holiday break.