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Vital Funding Continues for Cancer Research



Thursday 18th August 2011



The Royal Marsden NHS Trust, and academic partner, The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), have been successful in their bid to retain their status as the UK’s only Specialist Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) for Cancer.


The Department of Health today announced five further years of funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).


The Biomedical Research Centre grant provides The Royal Marsden and the ICR with £12 million of funding each year for cancer research.


The Royal Marsden and The ICR were selected for the grant on the basis of:

  • the proven record of quality, volume and breadth of internationally-excellent biomedical and translational research and researchers
  • our track record in translating advances in basic biomedical research into clinical research and then into benefits for patients, the public and the NHS and,
  • the strength of our strategic partnerships.


The grant is part of an £800 million government investment in medical research, the largest ever investment into early stage health research.


Professor Stephen Johnston, Director of Clinical Research and Development for The Royal Marsden and the ICR, said: “We’ve had some great results over the last five years in research and drug development, helped massively by the funding received from the first NIHR grant.

“Our aim is to drive pioneering research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and translate advances in biomedical research into patient benefits.  This continued funding will allow us to take forward these plans.

“Our research strategy is also underpinned by heavy investment in leading-edge facilities, such as the Centre for Molecular Pathology. This new building, due for completion in 2012, will bring scientists, pathologists, geneticists and clinicians together to continue working to revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.”


Highlights from the BRC over the last five years include:

  • New prostate cancer drugs abiraterone - also discovered at the ICR - and cabazitaxel have been developed through work at The Royal Marsden and the ICR.
  • 13 new drug candidates have been discovered and nominated for development at the ICR in the past five years.
  • Two START trials led by The Royal Marsden have resulted in tens of thousands of breast cancer patients per year needing fewer radiotherapy sessions.
  • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) developed at The Royal Marsden and the ICR has improved precision and reduced side-effects in radiotherapy.
  • Sorafenib, a new renal cancer drug, has been developed following the discovery by ICR scientists of BRAF mutations in cancer.
  • Active Surveillance Policy pioneered by the ICR and The Royal Marsden is now included in NICE guidance for early prostate cancer.
  • Aromatase inhibitors, the most effective form of endocrine treatment for hormone positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women, were developed at The Royal Marsden.
  • BRCA1 and 2 genes co-discovered at the ICR, have led to improved diagnostic techniques for young women, revised NICE guidance and new therapeutic initiatives.




Notes to Editors

The Royal Marsden opened its doors in 1851 as the world’s first hospital dedicated to cancer diagnosis, treatment, research and education.

Today, together with its academic partner, The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), it is the largest and most comprehensive cancer centre in Europe treating over 44,000 patients every year.  It is a centre of excellence with an international reputation for groundbreaking research and pioneering the very latest in cancer treatments and technologies. The Royal Marsden also provides community services in the London boroughs of Sutton and Merton and in June 2010, along with the ICR, the Trust launched a new academic partnership with Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Middlesex.  

For further information please contact Elaine Parr on 0207 808 2107 or email [email protected].

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)

  • The ICR is Europe’s leading cancer research centre.
  • The ICR has been ranked the UK’s top academic research centre, based on the results of the Higher Education Funding Council’s Research Assessment Exercise.
  • The ICR works closely with partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to ensure patients immediately benefit from new research. Together the two organisations form the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe.
  • The ICR has charitable status and relies on voluntary income, spending 90 pence in every pound of total income directly on research.
  • As a college of the University of London, the ICR also provides postgraduate higher education of international distinction.
  • Over its 100-year history, the ICR’s achievements include identifying the potential link between smoking and lung cancer which was subsequently confirmed, discovering that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer and isolating more cancer-related genes than any other organisation in the world.

For more information visit

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