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Latest coronavirus update - 25 March

The ICR logo on the exterior of the Brookes Lawley Building in Sutton

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has now ceased most of its ‘wet lab’ research as part of a series of measures to safeguard staff and students from coronavirus – but we are proud to be supporting the national effort against the pandemic.

All ICR laboratories in Chelsea and the majority of those in Sutton have now closed. Only very small numbers of people in essential research or maintenance roles remain on site, making it much easier to implement physical distancing.

Our staff and students have been finishing any ongoing experiments as quickly as possible, with only a small amount of research continuing – long-running studies involving animals, work involving critical patient samples for clinical trials, and some research related to coronavirus. Our computational research, which constitutes a substantial proportion of our work, will continue as normal off site. 

Helping efforts against the pandemic

The ICR has volunteered its services as a world-class scientific organisation to the national effort to research and combat the coronavirus. Professor Richard Houlston, Head of the Division of Genetics and Epidemiology, is leading the ICR’s efforts to offer our research expertise.

We expect some of the ICR’s researchers, especially those with relevant expertise in genomics, to join the national research effort into coronavirus, and we are working to identify those with a range of skills in demand including in clinical testing, genomic sequencing and antibody development.

Many of the ICR’s clinical staff and students are already supporting the NHS on patient care and services relating to the pandemic, primarily through our partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. We have put in place processes to ensure that there is no adverse impact for anyone who is pausing their studies to return to NHS work.

The ICR is also supporting the wider desire among our staff and students to volunteer to support the national response against the coronavirus, particularly for those who are unable to do their full roles from home.

Staff and students 'making a difference'

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the ICR said:

“It is not an easy thing to step away from the laboratory bench and not know when one might be able to return to work but I want to thank all our staff and students for their cooperation as we have wound down our wet lab research activities.

“We will continue with our vital cancer research as much as is safely possible, including through our pioneering computational research in areas such as drug discovery and cancer evolution. But we will also be offering the expertise of our researchers in the national effort against the coronavirus pandemic. The sooner we can overcome it, the sooner we can fully return to work.

“I have been so impressed and humbled by the passion shown across the ICR in wanting to help in this crisis. I am proud of the skills, expertise and commitment of everyone at the ICR, and have already seen some great examples of how our staff and students are making a difference in this unprecedented situation.”

Any further updates will be shared in due course. 

Staff and students who need more detailed advice can find it on the ICR’s intranet at, available via your normal work login.


Richard Houlston coronavirus
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