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The Institute of Cancer Research

Training Experience Required

The candidate would be expected to have some experience in translational and precision cancer medicine.

General description of the institute

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is a college of the University of London and the top academic research centre in the UK. We came first overall in the Times Higher Education league table of university research quality compiled from the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014). We were the leading higher education institution in the UK for the impact of our research on society. We were also judged to have the highest concentration of top-quality research in the UK, and ranked first for both biological sciences and clinical medicine. It is the second successive time that the ICR has led the UK for the quality of its academic research, after also finishing first in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.


The ICR and The Royal Marsden have worked together a joint strategy through which we will overcome the challenges posed by cancer's complexity, adaptability and evolution through scientific and clinical excellence, innovation and partnership. The first pillar of our joint research strategy is to gain a much fuller understanding of the complexity of cancer. We need to take an overview of cancer's complex ecosystems and communications networks - and yet also drill down deep into the specific mechanisms that drive cancer development, growth and spread. Scientific understanding on its own is not sufficient to defeat cancer - we need to innovate at every stage from the bench to the bedside. Our second pillar is to discover novel and personalised approaches to cancer treatment. Our third pillar is to create and deliver innovative clinical trials assessing a range of personalised treatments. Our responsibility to cancer patients does not end with the delivery of excellent research, or even with the development of a new treatment. Thus our fourth pillar is to take active steps to ensure our findings deliver real impact on the lives of cancer patients.


ICR Research capacity and facilities

This document highlights some of the research facilities and infrastructure at the ICR which may be of use in grant applications. Please note this is not a comprehensive list and there may be additional equipment you have access to within your specific research area/team/division. It is strongly recommended that this information is tailored to each grant application and therefore you only include facilities/infrastructure relevant to the research described. ICR research is underpinned by cutting-edge facilities; below summarises some of the key core scientific services available:

  • State-of-the-art microscopy is a vital tool in understanding the critical mechanisms of cell growth and division. We provide the latest in live cell imaging technology, enabling ICR scientists to study these processes in real time and in immaculate detail. Our light microscopy facilities are equipped with spinning disk confocal microscopes, confocal laser-scanning microscopes, a fluorescence correlation-spectroscopy microscope, deconvolution wide-field fluorescence microscopes, a total internal reflection microscope, a STORM super-resolution microscope, a selective plane light sheet microscope, and a lattice light sheet microscope. In 2017, the ICR became the first research organisation in the UK to acquire a lattice light sheet microscope. Using ultra-thin lattices of Bessel beams, the instrument enables very rapid imaging of cellular sub-sections without the effects of photo toxicity.
  • The ICR has invested to develop a proteomics facility that combines world-class instrumentation (three orbirtrap Fusion Lumos mass spectrometers) and specialist expertise. Our cutting-edge instrumentation enables quantitative analysis of mixtures measuring 10,000 proteins and post-translational modifications per sample. Working as a valued research partner, the service supports projects from experimental design through to bespoke bioinformatics analysis of results.
  • The ICR's Tumour Profiling Unit (TPU) provides access to state-of-the-art sequencing technologies and unrivalled expertise in the molecular characterisation of tumours. Through a partnership with Illumina, the ICR were the first academic centre in the UK to provide researchers with access to the NovaSeqTM 6000 - a leading-edge next-generation genome sequencing instrument. The unit applies a range of cutting-edge techniques to genomic, transcriptomic and epigenomic analysis.
  • The ICR's flow cytometry facility plays a vital role in our work to understand the fundamentals of cancer biology, from cell proliferation to cell death. It also underpins our immune profiling of tumour samples, a crucial part of our immunotherapy research. Within the facility, researchers can access a range of sophisticated flow cytometers that can measure up to 28 colours, and our expert team is on hand to provide help and support with experimental design and set-up
  • The ICR, together with Imperial College London, King's College London and Queen Mary University of London set up the LonCEM consortium to purchase a new Titan Krios cryo-EM advanced electron microscope, in which the ICR has a 30% stake. Cryo-EM is now widely used in the Division of Structural Biology to study a range of protein complexes that resist crystallisation, and to obtain resolutions far higher than standard electron microscopy. The ICR are also upgrading our in-house cryo-EM capability, with the delivery in February 2020 of a new dedicated cryo-EM microscope suited for cryo-EM sample screening and small scale data collection
  • Secure data storage for our research is provided by our resilient and rapid access £2.8m, six-petabyte Research Data Storage infrastructure. This is managed by our Scientific Computing team who further enable research through the High-Performance Computing (HPC) cluster, and through scientific software support and training.

The ICR also have a significant research infrastructure, providing a vibrant and rich research ecosystem. Below lists some relevant examples:

  • The ICR Board of Trustees agreed in 2018 to establish a £30m research investment fund to support essential Faculty recruitment and world-class core facilities - enabling the ICR to maintain critical mass, continue to deliver on the Research Strategy and secure our position (with the Royal Marsden) as one of the top comprehensive cancer centres in the world. • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at the Royal Marsden (RM) and ICR is the only BRC to specifically focus on cancer. The Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Centre at the ICR and RM is part of a national network of centres funded by CRUK with the aim of delivering world-leading translational research and improved patient care. Together with our cancer-specific BRC (BRC), the CRUK Centre and Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres funding streams provide critical components of the research infrastructure required to undertake our joint translational activities. • The ICR's new £75m Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery is due to open in spring 2020, housing around 270 researchers from a range of disciplines across drug discovery and cancer evolution. The centre will bring researchers together under one roof to lead the world's first 'Darwinian' drug discovery programme that aims to overcome cancer's ability to adapt, evolve and become resistant to treatment. This new building forms the cornerstone of the plans for the London Cancer Hub, a major initiative to create the world's leading life-science campus focused on cancer research, treatment, education and enterprise in Sutton, south London.
  • The ICR/RM Drug Development Unit (DDU) conducts over 75 early phase trials and recruits over 300 patients to these trials each year, making it one of the largest of its kind in the world. The Unit takes at least three to four novel drugs forward to the next stages of development every year, including those discovered at the ICR.
  • The National Cancer Research Institute recognised ICR Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit (ICR CTSU) provides national leadership of phase II and phase III trials of new treatments and technologies (including radiotherapy), particularly in breast, urological and head and neck cancers. Understanding cancer biology and treatment response using biomarker?driven trial designs is fundamental to the ICR?CTSU's research.
  • The UK Clinical Research Collaboration-accredited Royal Marsden Clinical Trials Unit (RM CTU) provides a large infrastructure comprising oncology specialist trial managers, statisticians and data programmers focussed on managing investigator-initiated trials in all aspects of cancer treatment and diagnosis, across all tumour types. There is a particular emphasis on early phase studies including radiotherapy/immunotherapy combination studies.
  • The RM/ICR NIHR Imaging Clinical Research Facility supports drug development and disease-specific translation. Each year the NIHR Imaging CRF facilitates around 1,000 patient visits for MRI or PET/CT imaging across approximately 150 clinical trials in a wide range of cancer types.
  • The £20m NIHR Centre for Molecular Pathology (CMP), co-locating multidisciplinary BRC researchers under one roof, a Clinical Pathology Accreditation-accredited Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory and a bio-sample facility seamlessly integrating routine and research diagnostic testing, to deliver precision medicine trials.
  • The Centre for Cancer Imaging, a £20m purpose-built centre, houses teams working on the preclinical and translational development of MRI, ultrasound and radioisotope imaging.

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