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Our research excellence

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is the top-ranked academic research centre in the UK. We came first in the Times Higher Education league table of university research quality compiled from the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014). 

Scientist pipetting in a lab

We were the leading higher education institution in the UK for the impact of our research on society – thanks to our strategy of combining world-class basic cancer research with a relentless drive to take discoveries to patients.

The ICR was also judged to have the greatest concentration of high-quality research of any higher education institution in the UK. By this measure we came top in both biological sciences and clinical medicine – putting us among an elite of fewer than 10 universities to come first in multiple units of assessment.

The REF assessed all 154 higher education institutions in the UK which were eligible for public research funding, and will be used to allocate funding to universities from 2015/16.

The ICR’s submission included world-class research studies on the genes and basic mechanisms of cancer, the evolution of cancers through natural selection, and the discovery and development of new drugs and ways of delivering enhanced radiotherapy.

Powerful endorsement

Our top ranking is a powerful endorsement of the quality of the ICR’s research, and the success of our partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in translating discoveries for patients. We improved our scores compared with the previous exercise in 2008, when the ICR also finished first.

The ICR’s submission included case studies demonstrating the major impact our work has had on patients, including our discovery and development for patients of drugs such as abiraterone, and the widespread adoption of targeted radiotherapy.

“I am absolutely delighted that the REF results have recognised the world-leading quality of our research, and the huge benefits it is having for people with cancer. The figures vividly demonstrate the success of our model of research, which combines the finest minds in cancer research with a relentless focus on turning our discoveries into new treatments.
Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

“To come top once – as we did the last time this evaluation was carried out, in 2008 – was brilliant. But to maintain our position against all the other world-famous universities across the UK, with improved scores, is even better. It’s a very strong vindication of the quality and impact of our research.”
Dr Barbara Pittam, Director of Academic Services at The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

Research Excellence Framework 2021

The ICR’s REF 2021 preparations are well underway.

The ICR has prepared a Code of Practice which outlines the ICR’s processes for the identification of staff and outputs for the REF 2021.