Establishing the ICR
As the 19th century ended and the 20th began, there was increasing concern about cancer and a growing desire to understand it.
Queen Victoria’s son-in-law, the Emperor Friedrich of Prussia, had died of laryngeal cancer and his wife, Victoria’s eldest daughter, also suffered from cancer until her death in 1901. What is more Prince Alfred, the Queen’s second son, also died of cancer of the tongue and throat in 1900.
There was a pressing need for knowledge and many within the British establishment were pushing for the creation of a cancer ‘Klinik’ to study the disease.
From its foundation in 1909, as a small research laboratory within what would become The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, the Institute of Cancer Research has grown to become one of the world’s foremost independent cancer research organisations.
To celebrate the ICR’s 100 years at the forefront in the fight against cancer, a series of special events were held throughout 2009 to recognise scientific achievements.
The ICR hosted Radio 4’s prestigious Any Questions? Programme. Chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby, political and media representatives contributed to a debate that was watched by a sold out crowd of ICR staff, students and members of the community.
Fundraising activities were implemented throughout the year. JUMP100 challenged scientists and supporters to raise money through sponsored sky diving, while the One Hundred Faces campaign encouraged the public to share experiences and stories touched by cancer.
Attendees at the fully-booked ICR Centenary Conference 2009, Cancer Genes: Discovery and Exploitation, held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, received an opening address by then ICR Chief Executive, Professor Peter Rigby, encompassing and overview of 100 years of the ICR. The conference provided a forum to highlight the ICR’s progress and achievements in cancer research, as well as recognising contributions and collaboration with other research organisations, including keynote speakers Sir David Lane, Director of the Cancer Research UK Transformation Research Group at the University of Dundee, and Dr Alan Hall, Chair of Cell Biology at the Sloan-Kettering Institute.
A series of distinguished lectures were held for scientists throughout the year; a lecture on Cancer: Unpicking the Enigma, was held for the general public. Some of the ICR’s top scientists, including Professor Clare Isacke, Professor Mel Greaves and Professor Johann de Bono, presented different topics in an effort to improve public understanding of the disease.
Professor Mel Greaves also provided an overview of cancer research to a number of Sixth Form students from the local Sutton area. A tour and demonstrations of scientific equipment and techniques, gave the students an opportunity to speak to scientists and generate an interest in science as a career.