Cancer Research UK Birmingham Centre

cruk-birmingham-logoThe Cancer Research UK Birmingham Centre was established in 2017 following the award of Centre status by Cancer Research UK.

Capitalising on a single biomedical campus, the Centre benefits from a strong partnership between Cancer Research UK and the Birmingham Health Partners, a strategic alliance that brings together the University of Birmingham, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

About us

The Centre establishes Birmingham as one of the UK’s premier sites for cancer research, bringing together scientists and clinicians to catalyse fundamental discovery science in cancer and novel therapeutic developments originating from this research.

Strategically linked with Birmingham’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) and the University’s CRUK Clinical Trials Unit (CRCTU), the Centre forms part of a vibrant pathway for transformative bench-to-bedside cancer research.

Our ultimate aim is to bring about dramatic improvements in cancer treatment, thereby contributing to CRUK’s strategic target of increasing cancer survival rates from 50% to 75% within the next 20 years.

Staff in the CRUK Centre

Our vision

Our vision is to transform cancer treatment by rational development of novel targeted therapies, immunotherapies and stratification approaches based on a fundamental understanding of oncogenesis and tumour immunobiology.

The Centre is uniquely positioned to capitalise on fundamental scientific strengths in cancer genomics, cancer immunology and tumour microenvironment, coupled to CRCTU expertise in stratified medicine trials design, diagnostic/stratification tests, and in genetic testing, thereby building on Birmingham’s central role in CRUK’s Stratified Medicine Programme.

CRUK Centre funding allows us to invest in critical infrastructure to support this ambition. This includes a PhD Fellowship programme, and a set of core infrastructure posts supporting key experimental approaches (including bioinformatics, biostatistics, next generation sequencing, immunomonitoring and digital pathology), and pump-priming funds to promote development of new prioritised research areas. 

We are working closely with colleagues located across the CRUK network of Centres, as well as other UK and international collaborators, to achieve this vision. 


Birmingham Health Partners LogoThe Cancer Research UK Birmingham Centre is managed under the umbrella of Birmingham Health Partners, which unites the University of Birmingham with key local clinical partners. Top-level oversight is provided by the Cancer Strategy Group, which has representation from all key partners.

Meeting twice a year, the non-executive Cancer Strategy Board chaired by Professor Paul Moss are configured to:

  • oversee/develop/adjust/approve and drive the strategy of the Centre, including training programmes;
  • provide a decision-making forum to enable the Centre to take advantage of strategically important opportunities;
  • discuss and agree strategy for recruitments to the Centre/ University;
  • provide assurance for the delivery of the Centre strategy and objectives;
  • provide assurance that the Centre’s progress in delivering branding, press and research engagement activities meet CRUK’s expectations.
  • review the Centre’s performance and its contribution to the CRUK Centres Network;
  • review top-level financial opportunities (e.g. leveraging funding) and challenges;
  • review key initiatives put forward by CRUK, Research Councils, the NHS and other bodies funding cancer research and the Centre’s responses to them.

Most Centre management decisions are taken by the CRUK Birmingham Centre Management Group, co-chaired by the Centre’s Scientific Director Professor Ben Willcox, and Clinical Director Professor Gary Middleton. In addition, a Training Advisory Group chaired by Dr Steven Lee is responsible for managing the Centre PhD training programme.

The Centre Management Group has clinical and non-clinical representation from across the Centre themes. Members are:

Prof Ben WillcoxProf Gary MiddletonDr Steve LeeProfessor Malcolm TaylorProfessor Constanze BoniferProfessor Grant StewartProfessor Paul MurrayDr Claire Shannon-LoweDr Joanna ParishProfessor Dion MortonProfessor Pam KearnsProfessor Jean-Baptiste CazierProfessor Charlie CraddockDr Dan TennantDr Andrew BeggsDr Neil StevenKaren Turner, Debbie Ringham, Craig MaskallAllison Lander

ecmc logoThere is close alignment with the Birmingham Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) management, with reciprocal involvement of ECMC and Centre Directors and theme leads in respective management structures, ensuring coordinated planning of fundamental and translational cancer research programmes. We work closely with our NHS partner Trusts on initiatives of joint relevance such as the UHB Radiotherapy Research Priorities.

CRUK Birmingham Centre Fellowships

Kick-start your career at the CRUK Birmingham Centre as a PhD fellow and help to make it one of the UK’s most successful sites for translationally oriented cancer research. Applications are invited for non-clinical and clinical PhD studentships on an annual basis.

The Centre’s PhD programme provides an outstanding opportunity for early career training in this dynamic, multidisciplinary environment. In addition, delivery of high quality research outputs from these studentships (high impact publications, novel therapeutic strategies and clinical trial concepts) is viewed as strategically critical for the Centre. Three prestigious PhD training fellowships (two non-clinical and one clinical) are awarded each year.  Each fellowship provides full funding for student fees, laboratory consumables, and stipend.

Find out more here.


The Centre has two funds which can support researchers at the University of Birmingham

  • Centre Development Fund – requests of up to £20k to support small pump priming projects. Where staff costs are requested, at least 50% match funding is expected. This fund is open with no fixed deadlines and applications are reviewed around once every two months.
  • Centre Travel Fund – this remains open to applications, with no specific deadline or maximum request value.  The Centre Management Group will however only support applications which have provided a compelling case for such strategic support. Please note that requests for conference fees / travel will not normally be considered.

Application forms for both funds can be requested from Claire Fenlon


Under development