UoA2: UCL Cancer

UCL in 1998 created a single Medical School through amalgamation of the UCL and Royal Free Hospital Medical Schools. By 2001, UCL Biomedicine consisted of two faculties (Clinical Sciences and Life Sciences) and five recently incorporated research institutes, of which four were separately submitted to RAE2001. In order to enhance organisational coherence and integrate the research effort, a period of intense consultation culminating in a formal international panel review (Chair: Sir Keith Peters) in 2005 resulted in the Faculty of Clinical Sciences and research institutes being amalgamated into a single Faculty (Faculty of Biomedical Sciences - FBS). Composed of 14 thematically based research divisions, the FBS research programmes are aligned, where appropriate, with partner NHS Trusts. A final review followed the strategic decision to retain an independent Faculty of Life Sciences (FLS) in 2006, and the FBS and FLS together now constitute the UCL School of Medical and Life Sciences -created to foster interdisciplinarity, and a more coherent medical curriculum.  The UCL Cancer Institute was created in 2006. The MRC selected UCL as its partner for the re-development of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), because of UCL’s complementary biomedical and other research strengths. Plans in development since 2004 will result in a new combined NIMR-UCL research institute in close proximity to our new Cancer Institute. The strengths of the NIMR in stem cell- and developmental biology will further provide collaborative opportunities. Furthermore, current discussions are ongoing to co-locate the CR-UK London Research Institute (LRI) from Lincoln’s Inn with the NIMR development. This could provide an unprecedented opportunity to link our translational and applied cancer research to that of the NIMR and LRI.

Researchers at UCL have an international reputation for leading basic, translational and clinical cancer research.  Areas of expertise include molecular pathology, viral oncogenesis, endothelial cell biology, mechanisms of leukaemogenesis, stem cell research, DNA-interactive drugs, antibody-directed targeted therapeutics, gene and cellular therapies, early-phase clinical trials, and cancer bioinformatics. UCL also leads national and international randomised clinical trials, as well as investigative studies in surgical oncology.  Since 2001, we have published over 800 papers, and 132 of these are in journals with an impact factor ≥10. The total group includes 42 category A staff (40.6FTE), and 10 category C staff. The total research income since 2001 is £67 million.

The new UCL Cancer Institute is a state-of-the-art Institute which will eventually house over 300 scientists, consolidating cancer research at UCL, promoting links with our partner teaching hospitals, and exploit the wealth of clinical material for genetic and other translational studies. The Institute is 8800m2, including 4500m2 dedicated laboratory space, adjacent to the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research (WIBR) and the new University College Hospital in central London. This represents a £40 million investment (SRIFIII, Children with Leukaemia, Atlantic Philanthropies).

Modern biomedical research is underpinned by similar technologies. Because of the proximity and physical link with the WIBR (Director, Salvador Moncada), the new UCL Cancer Institute and WIBR will share core facilities. During the last 5 years we have established the following core services: Genomics Facility incl. gene expression microarrays; Proteomics Facility; Imaging and Cell Sorting (confocal, time-lapsed microscopy, MoFlo FACS); Pathology Suite (laser capture microdissection, tissue arrays); Experimental Imaging (with UCL Institute of Child Health, UoA4); Transgenesis. The current core equipment in the Cancer Institute and WIBR will be expanded during 2007-2008 with a further £2 million award from The Wolfson Foundation and £1.5 million from UCL. Three members of staff from the WIBR work on cancer-related topics and are included in this return.

The WIBR and UCL Cancer Institute also house the main development laboratories of Cancer Research U.K. Technologies (CRT) and a Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory (Head, Selwood, UoA18). A number of UCL Groups are collaborating with CRT and Selwood. The Cancer Institute and WIBR have a dedicated Business Development Manager with UCL Business Plc. Together, these provide the infrastructure for commercial development of laboratory discoveries. These collaborations are illustrated by a recent discovery, highlighted in Nature, demonstrating interactions between cancer researchers and medicinal chemists, which described the conceptualization and generation of small molecule carriers (SMoCs) capable of delivering anti-cancer molecules efficiently to cells.

UCL was designated as one of the original 13 National Translational Cancer Research Centres (NTRAC) from 2002-7. During that time we undertook 49 phase I/II, new technology or diagnostic trials involving 3573 patients. This resulted in 204 publications (69 first author and 61 last author).

UCL was awarded Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre status by the DoH and CR-UK (2006). The purpose is to design and develop new treatments and diagnostics for cancer using molecular and patho-physiological knowledge, to increase the number and quality of phase I/II trials, use biomedical informatics to share and integrate data and to build the research of the Centre on a framework of quality assurance. Each area of experimental cancer medicine is backed by a research group dealing with basic or translational aspects. The presence of the CR-UK and UCL Cancer Trials Centre strongly facilitates development of translational studies linked to clinical trials. Our capacity in experimental cancer medicine, including clinical trials, will be greatly enhanced by a new Clinical Research Facility (2008). Together, these provide the infrastructure to develop an internationally competitive translational and clinical cancer programme. Cancer clinical trials led by UCL have had a major impact on patient management globally (see Clinical Cancer Studies, below).  The Centre supports research nurses for early phase clinical trials, statisticians, bioinformaticians, quality control technicians for GLP and GCP, and technicians for the tissue banks.

The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre has the following therapy-focused themes:

o    Selective delivery of therapy
o    Therapy directed against tumour stroma
o    Radiation, Laser and Ultrasound therapy
o    Immunotherapy
o    Targeting tyrosine kinase pathways, apoptosis & drug resistance
o    DNA targeting
o    Diagnostic Investigations

and Cross-cutting themes:

o    Biomedical informatics
o    Quality assurance

Bioinformatics is a priority of cancer research at UCL. We are members of the MRC e-science CancerGrid consortium responsible for common data elements and ontologies which will be applicable across the field of translational cancer research. Begent chairs the NCRI Informatics Task Force whose achievements include: development of an NCRI data sharing policy which is now being implemented by CR-UK, MRC and the Wellcome Trust; establishment of a website of informatics resources (receiving 20,000 hits/month); establishment of strategic partnerships with the European Bioinformatics Institute and the US NCI Centre for Bioinformatics. There is also a joint appointment between Cancer and UCL Computational Sciences (Nagl, UoA23), and during 2008, a joint 4 year PhD programme between the Cancer Institute and Faculty of Computational Sciences will be initiated.

UCL has been awarded grant support for a Clinical Research Facility (CRF) by the Wellcome Trust. The CRF will be located on the 14th floor of the new UCH Tower. An area dedicated to cancer clinical trials will be developed as part of this new initiative. This will include laboratories, pharmacy and imaging facilities to allow the safety and mechanism of action of new treatments to be assessed. Total investment of over £11 million (Wellcome Trust, MRC, UCL Cancer Institute Research Trust, Wolfson Foundation).

UCL/UCLH was made one of five Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centres in the UK (2007).  Two of the research themes are centred on translational cancer studies.  This is an investment of over £3 million/year supporting clinical and technical staff dedicated to cancer-related studies.  These funds will underpin the clinical research linking the new UCL Cancer Institute with the CRF. It will also fund two new Clinical Senior Lecturers for early phase clinical trials, research nurses and dedicated research sessions for clinician scientists.

UCL Cancer Trials Centre (CTC): The CTC (incorporating the British National Lymphoma Investigation offices) designs, conducts and analyses clinical trials in cancer. The majority of its work is in national multi-centre randomised trials. The centre is now one of the largest of the nine NCRI-accredited cancer trials centres in the UK.

Our research activities are organised around the following interlinked themes:

a   Cancer Biology and Translational Research
b   Experimental Therapeutics
c   Clinical Cancer Studies

Download full text of the RA5a statement for Cancer Studies (pdf 200Kb)

Staff names below link to submitted publications:

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Page last modified on 11 jan 08 09:53

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