Cancer Research Facilities and Infrastructure

Laboratory equipment in the OCRB

Access to state-of-the-art equipment, expertise, and facilities is essential to enable high quality cancer research. Within Manchester, we are fortunate to have some of the best experimental laboratories and clinical facilities that allow us to develop ground-breaking cancer research.

Cancer research facilities are located across Manchester. The majority of the facilities used by our researchers and clinicians can be found on the main campus at The University of Manchester, the Oglesby Cancer Research Building in Withington, the central site of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Withington, Oldham and Salford, and at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, currently located at Alderley Park in Cheshire until 2023.

Clinical Research Facility sign
Scientist in the OCRB imaging cells

The Christie Radiotherapy Department

The Christie is home to one of the largest radiotherapy departments in Europe as well as being one of only two centres worldwide that offer MR-linac and proton beam radiotherapy.

The Christie currently houses ten linear accelerators in the Withington site, with two further accelerators at The Christie’s Salford site and another two at the Oldham site.

In addition, the Withington site is home to an MRI-guided radiotherapy system called the MR-linac enabling real-time imaging during treatment to more accurately deliver radiotherapy beam to tumours.

The Christie also offers specialist linear accelerators for Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR), to treat lung, spine, liver, adrenal, lymph nodes and bone disease tumours.

In 2018, The Christie became the first NHS centre in the UK to provide high energy proton beam therapy (PBT). The centre in Manchester includes three gantries for patient treatment and includes a fourth gantry that is dedicated to research into this cutting-edge treatment.

Clinical Studies and Trials Facilities

The Christie is home to one of the largest early-phase clinical trials unit in Europe, with a portfolio of around 650 clinical studies taking place within a given year. This facility is located within the Oak Road Treatment Centre, a £35 million three-story building completed in 2010, that also houses the biggest chemotherapy facility in the UK.

Clinical trials and studies are also delivered through the National Health for Health Research Manchester Clinical Research Facility (NIHR Manchester CRF). Trials are delivered across four dedicated experimental medicine centres, with cancer activities taking place at The Christie CRF. The CRF provides the space and expertise needed to offer more patients the chance to take part in clinical trials, and supports adult and children’s studies across a diverse range of clinical areas.

Facilities at The University of Manchester

Our scientists have access to the various facilities on the Oxford Road main campus within the University of Manchester. All the facilities are staffed by skilled experimental officers and technicians to provide an efficient and effective means of delivering key technologies.

Facilities available to our scientists include:

  • Biological mass spectrometry including facilities within the Stoller Biomarker Discovery Centre enabling the identification, characterisation and quantification of proteins and other markers.
  • Flow cytometry facilities to analyse cells
  • Genomic and gene editing technologies including CRISPR technologies
  • Bioimaging and molecular imaging technologies

A full list of core facilities is available through The University of Manchester can be found on the Faculty of Biology Medicine and Health website.

Ultralow temperature freezers in the OCRB

Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute Facilities

At the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, Visualisation, Irradiation and Analysis and Flow Cytometry departments provide cutting-edge tools for both the fundamental and translational study of cancer, from molecular interactions in primary cells through to tissue-wide responses. Their equipment enables high content screening and super resolution microscopy – using a state of the art gSTED system – as well as cell sorting and analysing, spectroscopy and both confocal and widefield microscopy.

Histology works with researchers to enable sectioning, staining and mounting of tissue samples. Unstained high-quality paraffin fixed or frozen sections are produced for immunohistochemical analysis, in situ hybridisation and laser capture microdissection, or alternatively the sections may be stained for morphological examination. Their various platforms enable the analysis of tissue, cells and CTCs, and much is fully automated to allow high throughput scanning and virtual microscopy.

Core facilities support a wide variety of molecular biology projects. HiSeq 2500 and MiSeq high throughput sequencing equipment offers exome sequencing, RNA sequencing and ChIP-based sequencing. High throughput qPCR, SNP detection and targeted sequencing are also possible thanks to a Fluidigm Biomark. Additionally, protein and peptide mass spectrometry requirements are supported by a biological mass spectrometry facility that offers an array of qualitative and quantitative analyses.

High Performance Computing (HPC) has become a pre-requisite for the proper exploitation of cancer genomics data, in part, a consequence of the high volumes of data produced by recent advances in deep sequencing, imaging, and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). The Institute’s Scientific Computing team supports translational cancer research, and has the specific purpose of providing a state-of-the-art HPC service and data management service. We are establishing a Cancer Genome Data Centre (CGDC), the most advanced High Performance Bio-Computing facility, to support the processing and interpretation of high throughput genomics data.

A full list of facilities available at the CRUK Manchester Institute can be found on the Institute’s Services and Technology webpages.

Find out more.

Full information about the facilities available through each organisation is available through the websites of our relevant partners.

Research Themes

Discover the cross-cutting research themes supported by the MCRC.

MCRC Biobank

Established in 2008, the MCRC Biobank has transformed the way biological samples are collected and supplied for ground-breaking cancer research projects within the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and beyond.