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The Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research Unit

The Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research Unit (CEPRU) is a joint initiative between The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Imperial College London.

Split image of Sir Richard Doll building in Sutton and Imperial College building in South Kensington

Image: Split image of Sir Richard Doll building in Sutton and Imperial College building in South Kensington

Our understanding of the causes of cancer, and particularly of modifiable risk factors, has progressed substantially over the years. Around 50 to 60% of all cancers are attributed to known causes.

This increased understanding has led to important advances in the prevention of some cancers, for example by reducing human exposure to known carcinogens such as tobacco smoke, some viral infections and some environmental and occupational chemicals.

However, for many cancers and some well-known behavioural risk factors, we have seen only limited translation into effective prevention strategies. In addition, we face the huge challenge of not knowing yet what the external, modifiable causes could be of the remaining 40% or more cancers, for which innovative, blue-sky research may be needed to break into the unknown.

The CEPRU will bring together a critical mass of cancer epidemiologists, biostatisticians and population health scientists in Imperial’s School of Public Health with the ICR’s expertise in cancer epidemiology (especially in breast cancer), cancer biology and genetics, and its expert oncologists.

This will allow it to address unmet challenges in cancer prevention research, identifying currently unknown causes of cancer and accelerating the translation of knowledge of modifiable risk factors into effective primary prevention strategies.

CEPRU’s founding director is Professor Elio Riboli.

The Unit was launched at a virtual event on 2 November 2020. Further details on the scope of its collaborative work will be added to this page in due course.