MCRC Director’s Update – October 2022

Professor Robert Bristow in his office in the OCRB

Hello everyone,

I trust everyone has had a wonderful October. For the MCRC team and I we have marked this month by attending many spectacular conferences across the globe from Oregon to Manchester, and London to Heidelberg. It’s also been a month filled with NIHR success following the award of two National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) grants including a Global Health Research grant with Kenya and the award of the second Biomedical Research Centre.


Success in NIHR Grants

The start of October began with the two major grant successes. The first is a £2.6m Global Health Research award that cements our ongoing partnership between Manchester and Kenya. It follows over three years of work establishing relationships between the MCRC, The Christie, The University of Manchester and Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) and I’m delighted that we are building activities that will impact the lives of people living in Kenya.


I’m particularly excited about this award as it demonstrates the importance of Team Science on a global scale. This research has been co-designed between Manchester and Kenya to address the cancer challenges that affects people in Kenya. Squamous cell carcinoma is the predominant form of oesophageal cancer that affects people in Kenya and has an almost 99% mortality rate (Globocan 2020). Our aim for this grant is to support the earlier detection of oesophageal cancer, and work with KUTRRH to implement a new hub and spoke model to deliver activities that will help communities the most.


Hot off the heels of this award, the NIHR awarded the Manchester BRC a further £59.1 million to translate its scientific discoveries into new treatments, diagnostic tests, and medical technologies to improve patients’ lives in Greater Manchester, and beyond, over the next five years (2022-2027).


The BRC forms part of the 20 new Biomedical Research Centres across England. This award is a significant boost to the city region and will help to increase the coverage of early-stage research across the nation and ensuring everyone has access to cutting edge clinical trials. Within cancer, the new BRC has four cancer themes: Cancer Prevention and Early Detection, Cancer Precision Medicine, Advanced Radiotherapy and Living with and Beyond Cancer.

Globetrotting Events

This month has seen a mix of local, national and international conferences and I’m pleased to see that the MCRC has been out in force representing Manchester at many of the major conferences.


Black in Cancer Conference, London

Beginning at the start of October, our Director of Research Operations and Strategy, Dr Claire Trinder and Postgraduate Programme Manager, Simon Reeds attended the Black in Cancer Conference. Over two days, our team heard about the challenges and barriers that prevent or hamper black researchers or patients involvement and inclusion in research. It has left us with many thought-provoking actions about how we can be the face of change, what we can do to champion inclusion and equality within Manchester, and how we can make our workforce as diverse as cancer itself.


Early Detection Conference in Portland, Oregon

In mid-October, researchers and wider team from our early detection theme attended the annual early detection conference this year held in Portland, Oregon. It was fantastic to see such a large group of researchers attend the conference and have an opportunity to network and hear from international researchers. Our team then followed this up with the Cancer Prevention conference in Heidelberg, Germany where again they were able to network with their peers and develop their own networks. There was some commonality to both conferences as the major topics covered the delivery of new multi-cancer testing as well as tackling important aspects of the ethics of screening.


GM Cancer Conference

Closer to home, this month also saw the team attend the Greater Manchester Cancer Conference, returning to a face-to-face event for the first time since the pandemic began. Like previous years, this conference was a great opportunity to hear from researchers from across the entire cancer pathway from research through to treatment and patients who are living with and beyond the disease.


The highlight of the conference was of course the first Awards ceremony which celebrated the achievements of teams from across Manchester. A special congratulations to Professor Emma Crosbie who, along with her research team won the Research Award, Professors Janelle Yorke and Corinne Faivre-Finn and Dr James Price and The Christie e-Proms team who won the Innovation Award. The full list of winners were:

  • The Outstanding Care Award went to “Teaching Patients and Carers to Inject Chemotherapeutic Drugs at Home” by the Northern Care Alliance team
  • Commitment to Equality Award went to: “Encouraging Inclusivity in Technology Clinical Trials Project” by the dECMT
  • Greater Manchester Collaboration Award went to: “Primary Care Network Collaboration in Greater Manchester” by the GM Cancer Alliance
  • Research Award went to “Testing womb cancer for Lynch syndrome: How Manchester-led research changed UK clinical practice” by Prof. Emma Crosbie and The University of Manchester team
  • Educational Impact Award went to “Making Smoking History in Greater Manchester” by the GM Integrated Care Partnership
  • Innovation Award went to “MyChristie-MyHealth – The Christies ePROMs” project by The Christie


Many congratulations to all the teams involved for their achievements.


A look ahead to November

November is shaping up to be an important month for the MCRC as we hold both the Scientific Advisory Board for our CRUK RadNet programme as well as the International Advisory Board for the MCRC and CRUK Manchester Centre. I’m delighted to welcome the members of both boards to Manchester and provide them the opportunity to see first-hand the impactful work that takes place within our laboratories and clinics. We’re very fortunate that on Friday the 4th November, the chair of our IAB, Professor Karen Knudsen will deliver the next in our series of 2022 Director’s Lectures on: “A tripartite approach for ending cancer as we know it”. Registration for the event is now open via Eventbrite.


We will also be joined on the 8th November by Professor Ian Mills who will deliver an MCRC Seminar on: “Deciphering and exploiting genomic and metabolic alterations in prostate cancer”. Registration is now open via Eventbrite.


I hope everyone has an enjoyable November and I look forward to updating you all again in the next month.


Robert Bristow, Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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