Main Menu

Scientific aims and themes

The Joint Sarcoma Research Centre’s ambition is to develop a sustainable and world-leading research portfolio that aligns with the research strategies of the ICR and The Royal Marsden, including precision medicine in sarcoma clinical trials, early detection, immune and targeted therapies, imaging, radiotherapy, and molecular pathology.

A scientist at work

The Royal Marsden has two main units involved in treating sarcoma patients that are closely linked to research activities in the ICR:

  • The Sarcoma unit is one of the largest sarcoma units in Europe, treating around 20 per cent of the UK adult sarcoma patient referrals every year. It also has one of the largest sarcoma tissue archives in the world, making it a rich resource for research in this group of rare cancers. The Sarcoma unit's prospectively maintained database is a valuable resource for researching the outcomes of very rare sarcoma subtypes.
  • The Children and Young People’s unit is one of the largest comprehensive cancer centres for young people in Europe where, in contrast to adults, young patients with sarcomas make up a high percentage (15%) of patients with cancer. The Children and Young People’s unit also has the largest paediatric inpatient drug development programme in the UK and is recognised as a world leader. Together with the ICR, we are involved with national and international groups and have leading roles in the latest international clinical trial for rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children and adolescents.


  • Within the Joint Centre, we leverage on the strengths of the ICR and The Royal Marsden to undertake transformational sarcoma research that promotes forward and reverse translation, with the ultimate goal of improving cure rates and reducing treatment associated toxicities in these rare cancers.
  • The centre also provides a forum to enhance collaborations between clinicians and translational and basic scientists. It is our firm belief that only through collaborative research can we deliver practice-changing discoveries for patient benefit.
  • The centre will foster a framework for training the next generation of sarcoma researchers. We have trained a succession of fellows who are now sarcoma consultants worldwide. We will build on this track record to train the next generation of clinicians and researchers who are fluent in translational and multi-disciplinary sarcoma research.


The major focus of the Joint Sarcoma Research Centre is on adult soft tissue sarcomas (STS), paediatric and teenage and young adult (TYA) sarcomas. The research strategy and investigators within the centre are align with four key cross-cutting themes:

  1. Medical oncology and cancer therapeutics
  2. Radiotherapy, imaging and surgery
  3. Molecular pathology
  4. Novel disease models and technologies

Both the ICR and The Royal Marsden have significant strengths in sarcoma research and treatment, and working together we can overcome some of the classical barriers associated with making progress in the biological understanding and treatment of these low incidence cancers.