The highly competitive Cancer Research UK Centre awards recognise the UK’s most innovative, high-impact cancer research and NHS-University collaborations. This coveted funding, announced today, will see £11 million invested in Oxford and the Thames Valley’s cancer research and translational infrastructure, and a further £3 million into training over the next five years.
Cancer remains the second largest cause of global mortality, impacting the lives of millions worldwide. Half of us will be diagnosed with cancer, and there is a strong demand for investment in academic excellence, and to support partnerships with industry and public health organisations.
Within Oxford, the funding will draw together academics and experts from across its fundamental, translational and clinical research communities including from cancer doctors, mathematicians, computer & data scientists, vaccinologists, immunologists, cellular biologists, drug discovery experts, clinical trialists, imaging experts and public health specialists. Nationally and internationally, the new investment will foster a multisectoral approach and invest partnerships that will deliver short and long term patient benefit.
Professor Tim Elliott, co-Director of the Oxford Cancer network, says: 'Nomination as a Centre of Excellence by CRUK is a strong endorsement of the quality and potential of the cancer research offered by Oxford clinicians and academics. Our researchers are working across divisions, departments and disciplines to deliver effective solutions to detecting and treating cancer.'
Professor Mark Middleton, co-Director of the Oxford Cancer network, says: 'This CRUK funding will knit together world class research and clinical expertise to deliver earlier, better and safer treatments. Our Centre will support and grow local partnerships with NHS organisations, such as the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Thames Valley Cancer Alliance and the Berkshire West, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Groups. It will strengthen relationships further afield, for example with the Centre in Scotland, with whom we look forward to working closely with in the coming years.'
Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said: 'CRUK remains the key funder for cancer research and its support will help Oxford deliver an integrated program bringing together healthcare providers, basic and clinical research scientists and industry. The support from CRUK is crucial for us to deliver this agenda and will in the end create opportunities for us to develop new therapies and diagnostics in cancer.'
The £11 million award for the CRUK Oxford Centre is overseen by Oxford Cancer, the University’s cancer research network. Money will be invested in Oxford’s key themes:
• Cancer early detection – striving to achieve NHS England’s Long Term Plan target to detect 75% cancers at an early stage by 2028.
• Cancer big data – using the data science expertise in Oxford by analysing large, complex data sets, in order to detect cancer earlier and treat it better.
• Developments in immuno-oncology – building on existing immunology successes in Oxford, such as the COVID-19 vaccine, and applying these novel technologies to realise the long-term, curative benefits of immunotherapy.
• Novel therapeutics and diagnostics - developing new therapies and methods that precisely target treatments more effectively, as well as improving the use of existing ones.
An additional £3 million in funding is dedicated specifically to studentships, to help train the next generation of cancer researchers and allow them pursue new and ambitious ideas.