Our research

microscope

Our research aims to accelerate the translational outputs of three complementary research strengths: cancer immunology, cancer genomics and epigenetics, and the tumour microenvironment and metabolism.

The Centre’s academic vision is that increased understanding of oncogenesis mechanisms, tumour immunobiology and tumour heterogeneity will provide the scientific basis for novel rational targeted therapies and immunotherapies, and for their integration into stratified treatment pathways.

Our strategic focus on the ‘science of stratification’ represents a pan-cancer approach. We are working with our clinical partners to generate a powerful clinical cancer informatics system within a trusted research environment accessible across the national CRUK Centre and ECMC networks, building on our experience with the 100,000 Genomes Project and the UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project, the latter co-founded by Professor Gary Middleton at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cancer immunology

Aligning with the University's Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Centre we explore how anti‐tumour immunity is regulated, including the immunobiology of the tumour microenvironment, and how factors such as tumour genetics, oncogenic signalling and microbiota combine to influence it. Professor Gary Middleton is the Clinical Theme Lead, and Professor Ben Willcox and Dr Claire Shannon-Lowe are the Joint Theme Leads. 

Cancer genomics and epigenetics

Aligning with the Birmingham Centre for Genome Biology, we define how DNA damage and repair defects influence cancer predisposition, how epigenetic reprogramming drives tumourigenesis, and, aligning with clinical trials on epigenetic modifiers, highlights new therapeutic opportunities. This research theme is jointly led by Professors Conny Bonifer and Jo Morris. Professor Andrew Beggs is the Clinical Theme Lead.

Tumour microenvironment and metabolism

This cross‐Institute theme aims to increase understanding of the tumour microenvironment, with the ultimate goal of harnessing this to improve our understanding of prognosis, response to treatment, and also to catalyse development of novel therapeutic approaches or treatment combinations. Dr Dan Tennant is the Theme Lead, and Dr Shishir Shetty is the Clinical Theme Lead.

Research environment

Birmingham is one of the largest UK centres for cancer treatment, with an ethnically diverse, yet stable, regional population (~6 million), and a portfolio of internationally competitive cancer research, spanning discovery science, translational research, clinical trials and applied health.

The Centre benefits from an outstanding local environment, featuring co-localisation of a broad and diverse range of cancer researchers on a single-site multidisciplinary campus, united within an integrated management structure that ensures Centre alignment with the NIHR/CRUK Birmingham Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and the Cancer Research UK Clincial Trials Unit as well as access to a diverse range of infrastructure, including the Genomics Birmingham Facility, the Molecular Histology Facility, the Clinical Immunology Service, and the Metabolic Tracer Core.

Under the umbrella of Birmingham Health Partners, a strategic collaboration between the University of Birmingham, University Hospitals Birmingham and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trusts, the Centre takes part in a coordinated vision and infrastructure for cancer research.