Cancer Research UK establishes new translational research centre in Birmingham

The Cancer Research UK Birmingham Centre, established on 1 April 2017, will bring together researchers specialising in understanding cancer genetics, how cancer avoids our body’s defences and the role viruses play in certain cancers. 

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The Cancer Research UK Birmingham Centre is a partnership of Cancer Research UK (CRUK) with the University of Birmingham, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, working together as Birmingham Health Partners. By sharing their expertise, academics, scientists and doctors will deliver world-leading research and improve the care of patients across Birmingham and beyond. 

The CRUK Birmingham Centre is one of 13 translational research centres carrying out the highest quality cancer research in the UK and accelerating new breakthroughs from the lab bench to the hospital bedside as part of Cancer Research UK’s research infrastructure.

It will work in tandem with the new Birmingham Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC), part of a network of ECMCs that are jointly funded by CRUK, the National Institute for Health Research in England and the Departments of Health for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

‘We are delighted Birmingham has been selected to be part of the Cancer Research UK Centre and ECMC network,’ said Professor Ben Willcox, the CRUK Birmingham Centre’s Scientific Director. ‘This reflects on the quality and breadth of cancer research in Birmingham, which involves strong collaboration between the University of Birmingham and key local clinical partners.’ 

The CRUK Birmingham Centre will focus on the following areas of research: 

  • Genomics – Exciting new technologies have highlighted the roles different genes play in cancer. Research in Birmingham is revealing how unique genetic features of each cancer impact treatment outcomes, helping more people to get the best treatment for them
  • Immunology – Cancers survive by avoiding detection by the immune system, our body’s natural defence against illness. By studying how the immune system is controlled, scientists in Birmingham hope to harness it to help beat cancer
  • Virology – Viruses can play a part in causing certain cancers. Researchers in Birmingham are studying these viruses to understand how they might cause cancer and discover powerful new ways to prevent and treat these cancers

‘The crucial support provided heralds an exciting new phase in our ambition of promoting and harnessing innovative fundamental cancer research to bring about major improvements in cancer treatment,’ added the CRUK Birmingham Centre’s Clinical Director, Professor Gary Middleton. ‘Central to realising this ambition will be the development of novel targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and new ways to focus treatments on the patients most likely to respond.’

The CRUK Birmingham Centre will complement the research carried out at the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Birmingham, one of the largest cancer trials units in the UK that has been in existence for more than 30 years.

The CRUK Birmingham Centre and the Birmingham ECMC will add to the expanding portfolio of research activity within the Birmingham Health Partners network. This strategic alliance between the University and NHS in Birmingham is working to rapidly accelerate access to new drugs, devices and diagnostics by harnessing research strengths in the University and NHS to deliver better treatments and care to patients locally, nationally and globally.

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