Oxford University is at the heart of two new massive cancer research partnerships aiming to understand the genetic and molecular changes driving the disease as well as trial novel therapies and surgical approaches to treatment.

A £110-million cancer research institute will be established at Oxford University to investigate a wide range of cancer therapies, including advanced cancer imaging, trials of new drugs, minimally invasive surgery and proton beam therapy.

Scientists will establish the Precision Cancer Medicine Institute with a £35 million grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England through its UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, which will be matched with over £75 million of investment in financial contributions and support in kind from partners in the project.

The proposed partners include Cancer Research UK; Roche Diagnostics; GE Healthcare; Mirada Medical; Brandon Medical; Blue Earth Diagnostics; and the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute.

Chan Soon-Shiong alliance

The second research partnership, between the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Molecular Medicine in the USA and the University, will create the Chan Soon-Shiong Oxford Centre for Molecular Medicine.

The new centre will use the latest techniques to characterise tumour samples from patients in order to understand genetic and molecular changes underlying their cancer, in a bid to understand how large amounts of genomic and other molecular data can be combined with clinical data to ultimately offer treatments based on the characteristics of the disease.

The new Chan Soon-Shiong Oxford Centre is likely to be housed within the Precision Cancer Medicine Institute, where the clinical applications of its research will take place. It will work in close collaboration with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The Chan Soon-Shiong Institute has made an initial commitment of £31.2 million to advance these approaches, of which £21.9 million over eight years will establish the new research centre at Oxford University. In addition, the Institute will purchase £9.4million worth of research equipment and data systems infrastructure in the UK, to which the University will be provided access.