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Researcher in the lab


Uniquely placed to lead the global cancer research effort

The University of Manchester is home to world-leading research led by experts spanning the full cancer spectrum – from ground-breaking discovery science to innovative clinical trials.

We are in the right place to lead the global cancer research effort. The scientists, doctors and infrastructure required to make this happen are all here in Manchester, alongside a diverse population with higher than average incidence of cancer.

The University’s strong links with local hospitals and NHS trusts mean our researchers work side-by-side with clinicians, quite literally taking our research from the lab bench to the bedside.

We are helping to create a world in which more of us survive cancer...

Our global impact is only possible due to our close relationship with the world’s biggest charitable funder of cancer research and one of Europe’s largest cancer hospitals.

Much of this research is coordinated through the Manchester Cancer Research Centre – a partnership between the University, Cancer Research UK and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

Together we are helping to create a world in which more of us survive cancer by pioneering innovative and impactful ways of preventing, detecting and treating all types of cancer.

Through our primary care and policy work, solutions to the physical, emotional and economic impacts of cancer are also being studied and put into practice by our researchers.


Areas of research activity

The diversity of our strengths reflects our expertise and established position as a pioneer in a number of fields.

Cross-cutting themes

  • Biomarkers
  • Discovery science
  • Experimental cancer medicine
  • Prevention and early detection
  • Radiotherapy related research (including proton therapy research)

Enabling infrastructure

“Manchester is a place to do great things. It has a proven commitment to cancer research, as well as a top-tier, cancer-specific hospital in The Christie that treats more patients than any other centre in the UK or Europe.

Importantly, Manchester is renowned for its ‘team science’ approach and has extensive infrastructure support with access to state-of-the-art technologies and expertise. It’s a pleasure to be part of this extraordinary Manchester team.”

Professor Rob Bristow / Cancer research strategy lead

From investment to impact

Manchester is one of only two designated major centres supported by Cancer Research UK (CRUK), with £39 million of funding awarded over the next five years.

CRUK highlighted our ability to translate findings from lab to clinic as being of international standing.

We have also attracted funding for centres of excellence in lung and prostate cancer research.

In addition to this, cancer research is a prominent theme in the recent £28 million award for a Biomedical Research Centre by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).


Personalised treatment

Cancer may be one illness, but it is unique to the individual.

We are working towards a future where every cancer patient receives a personalised treatment plan from the day of diagnosis, based on their genetic make-up and that of their tumour.

  • We lead numerous early phase trials to test the latest targeted therapies and increasingly use molecular profiling to maximise patient benefit.
  • Our work in radiotherapy looks to reduce side effects and improve survival.
  • Through research into cancer prevention and earlier detection, we are helping to catch cancer at a stage when treatment can be most effective.
  • We host the biggest and best collection of academic researchers assessing blood-based biomarkers in the world, having pioneered this area. This ‘liquid biopsy’ is the future of cancer diagnosis and monitoring. Through this we will find cancer earlier and treat it better.
  • Our researchers will soon work on the country’s only high-energy NHS proton beam facility with a dedicated research room, enabling scientists to provide doctors with the evidence base for this cutting-edge treatment.

Cancer stories

From basic science to bedside care, read our features on how Manchester’s expertise is combating cancer in more powerful ways than ever.

Our stories will give you a snapshot of our incredible cancer research activity and the people behind it.

You can also download the latest edition of the Cancer Futures magazine (PDF, 15.2MB).

Cancer workshops

Sharing knowledge is a key driver of innovation. We are committed to sharing our depth and breadth of scientific research with our wider community to improve our understanding of cancer, develop new collaborations with universities across the world, and strengthen our research portfolio.

You can now watch on demand selected seminars and workshops from our scientific portfolio highlighting our expertise and activity.

Each session features in-depth scientific discussions on key areas of research spanning basic, translational and clinical research. Keep up to date with the latest insight and investigations from Manchester’s Cancer team Science.

Image: Researcher in lab

Research leaders

Professor Rob Bristow

Research Domain Director for Cancer, The University of Manchester, and Director, Manchester Cancer Research Centre

Professor Rob Bristow

Rob Bristow is one of the world's leading experts on prostate cancer. He works with scientific and clinical researchers in Greater Manchester to develop personalised medicine approaches for cancer patients worldwide.

Read profile

Professor Stephen Taylor

Head of Division of Cancer Sciences, The University of Manchester

Professor Stephen Taylor

Stephen Taylor's research interests lie in exploring opportunities for biomarkers and combination therapies that could enhance traditional and second generation antimitotic agents, used to treat breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

Read profile

Image: Researcher in lab

Training future scientists and doctors

We are the UK’s largest single site University and home to Europe’s largest medical school. Our size and access to expertise means that we are one of the world’s leading centres for oncology teaching and research.

Postgraduate research opportunities

PhD projects that are currently advertised are available via a researcher’s profile or by searching our postgraduate research project finder.


Funded PhD programmes

There are two flagship programmes:

Lab equipment

Cancer research beacon

Cancer is one of The University of Manchester’s five research beacons. The beacons are based around some of the biggest questions facing the planet.

They bring together our efforts to address these problems with examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships. 


Contact us

General enquiries

Christine Tracey (EA to the MCRC Directors)

tel: +44(0)161 306 0879