CRUK & EPSRC Cancer Imaging Centre in Cambridge and Manchester

Established in 2013, the CRUK and EPSRC Cancer Imaging Centre in Cambridge and Manchester brings together internationally renowned scientists and clinicians working on cutting-edge imaging technologies within the field of oncology. The partnership is driving the development of non-invasive imaging techniques that provide early disease detection, give prognostic information and can detect early treatment response in order to guide therapy in individual cancer patients.

Collaboration to advance imaging for detection and treatment


University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Centre of excellence in cancer imaging

The CRUK & EPSRC Cancer Imaging Centre in Cambridge & Manchester combines the scientific and clinical strengths of two OECI accredited Comprehensive Cancer Centres in the UK to develop new approaches for the detection and treatment of cancer. Together, Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge and the Christie Hospital in Manchester see over 17,000 new patients every year and are ranked first in 2015 for trials by the West Anglia Cancer Research Network (WACRN) and Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC).

The Centre brings together emerging imaging methods using state-of-the-art equipment with novel chemical and biochemical approaches and aims to rapidly translate new agents and technologies from the laboratory into the clinic in order to impact patient care. Through partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, the Centre runs pioneering clinical studies in which imaging is being used to guide therapy and inform clinical outcomes. Multimodality trials integrate imaging with circulating and tissue biomarkers for a more comprehensive view of tumour biology and therapy response.

Research Areas

The research focus of the Cancer Imaging Centre is based on the strengths of Cambridge in novel imaging techniques, cancer cell biology, animal disease models and cancer genomics complemented by Manchester's strengths in functional MRI acquisition and analysis, radiobiology, and cancer therapeutics. The combined facilities provide extensive imaging technologies for both clinical and pre-clinical imaging. These include MRI, PET, SPECT, X-ray CT, ultrasound and optical, near infra-red and photoacoustic imaging supported by resources to provide the production of radioactive tracers to agreed quality standards. Advances in imaging technology and application are facilitated by an active interface between the life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, and medicine at both institutions. Over 400 trials involving PET and/or MR imaging have been conducted at the two centres since 2011. The joint research programmes for the new Cancer Imaging Centre are organised around three different thematic areas outlined below. Further details of the Centre's aims and goals are here.

Centre leaders: 
Kevin Brindle, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute 
Alan Jackson, University of Manchester Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre
Centre co-leaders:
Fiona Gilbert, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine 
Geoff Parker, University of Manchester Centre for Imaging Sciences 
Richard Marais, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute

Early Detection

Imaging biomarkers associated with Barrett's oesophagus using fluorescent labelled lectins will enable a more sensitive and less invasive approach for monitoring the progression of cancer.

Theme lead: 
Rebecca Fitzgerald, MRC Cancer Unit, Cambridge

Monitoring tumour response to therapy

A number of approaches are being utilised to monitor tumour response to therapy. MRI is being used to study tissue microstructure using diffusion weighted MRI and hyperpolarised 13C MRI to monitor tumour metabolism. These provide an opportunity to monitor early responses with much greater sensitivity.

Theme leads:
Kevin Brindle, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
Geoff Parker, University of Manchester Centre for Imaging Science
Adam McMahon, University of Manchester Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre

Tumour microenvironment

Quantitative image analysis correlated with genomic analysis of DNA and RNA is providing information about the changes in tumour heterogeneity during treatment. The combination of these two techniques provides new information about how tumours progress during treatment. These data are also being correlated with DNA analysis of circulating tumour DNA in order to further characterise populations of cancer cells that progress during treatment and their associated genetic signatures. The tumour microenvironment and hypoxia are also being studied in order to develop more sensitive methods for targeting radiotherapy and detecting  response to this treatment.

Theme leads:
Alan Jackson, University of Manchester Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre
Kaye Williams, University of Manchester School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Sarah Bohndiek, Department of Physics, University of Cambridge

Education and Training

Training the next generation of cancer imaging scientists and clinicians is a vital part of the Cancer Imaging Centre’s remit. The Centre’s training programme provides the opportunity for those with backgrounds in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering or medicine to undertake both clinical and non-clinical doctoral studies in cancer imaging.

The Centre will sponsors annual summer schools to provide an introduction to innovative concepts in pre-clinical and clinical imaging. Specific support for postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows is provided.