NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre

Delivering a more personalised approach for the treatment and prevention of cancer

Professor Gareth Evans

Author: Professor Gareth Evans View External profile (opens in new window)

Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Co-Theme Lead

The £41 million investment in biomedical research awarded to Greater Manchester in April through the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF) was a huge boost for the city region, reputationally and in terms of achieving better patient outcomes.

In cancer, the BRC will focus on research in Advanced Radiotherapy, Precision Medicine, and Prevention and Early Detection.  NIHR funding also supports the CRF, which provides dedicated space and a safe, quality assured environment for delivering the clinical aspects of these research studies.

Our cancer research

Advanced Radiotherapy – is embracing technological advances and developing biomarkers to predict the effectiveness of different types of radiation and drug-radiation combinations, as well as helping to minimise the risk of long-term side effects.

Precision Medicine – is developing personalised medicine approaches for our patients targeting specific therapy to an individual’s cancer.

Prevention and Early Detection – is also developing screening strategies and biomarkers including better risk stratification and, in some cases, our work is likely to help prevent conditions progressing into cancer in the first place.

Our unique position

In the context of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP), devolution of the city region’s £6bn health and social care budget we have a unique and unprecedented mechanism for speeding up the translation of this research from ’bench to bedside’.

Within the research arm of the GMHSCP, this NIHR funding enables us to bring together world-leading researchers across The University of Manchester and three NHS Trusts, to share best practice,  and maximise opportunities where our patients may benefit from joint research programmes, for example, across cancer and respiratory disease.

Most of our researchers hold posts with The University of Manchester and many are also clinicians at our partner NHS Trusts.  So, UoM will be the glue that facilitates the BRC research. We are bringing together  the University’s and NHS’ expertise and infrastructure in biomarker development (e.g. Stoller Biomarker Discovery Centre), informatics (e.g. Farr Institute) and the rapid translation of research findings (e.g. CRF), to drive forward pioneering research into new tests and treatments that will benefit patients.

Our ability to deliver world-leading cancer research is strengthened by The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and the largest single-site cancer centre in Europe, treating in excess of 44,000 patients per year.  It has one of the largest radiotherapy departments in the world and is due to open the first of only two NHS high energy proton beam therapy centres in the UK in 2018. It is also just one of seven sites in the world to host a pioneering MR-linac radiotherapy machine.  Manchester is also home to the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre and Manchester Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre.

Our Prevention and Early Detection research also involves Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT)*using both UoM and NHS facilities.

International reputation and ambition

The NIHR cancer research funded through the BRC is hugely important in positioning Manchester among the foremost cancer research environments globally. Our research in Prevention and Early Detection, Advanced Radiotherapy and Cancer Precision Medicine will be hugely benefited by this award. The infrastructure provided by NIHR will make Manchester far more competitive in external grant applications and more compelling to industry partners.  It will act as an accelerator on our research which is already breaking new ground internationally.

Having chosen cancer as one of its five research beacons, the University has demonstrated its commitment to cancer research and proves how serious it is about advancing cancer research. This creates a culture that is extremely positive and is seen around the UK and internationally making Manchester a real player in cancer research globally.

What are your hopes for the BRC?

The BRC will accelerate the advancement of cancer research in Manchester particularly in the areas of Advanced Radiotherapy, Precision Medicine, and Prevention and Early Detection.

It will improve recruitment of key researchers internationally and lead to increased external grant income. The BRC will have tangible effects on research outcomes and patient benefit as our research necessarily has to focus on these areas. It is strongly hoped that Manchester will advance its position from near the top of cancer research nationally to near the top of global cancer research.

*MFT was formerly Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust.