Cancer Research UK

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Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK.svg
MottoTogether we will beat cancer
Founded4 February 2002 (2002-02-04)
TypeCharitable organisation
Registration no.
  • England and Wales: 1089464
  • Scotland: SC041666
  • Isle of Man: 1103
FocusCancer research
Health policy
  • 2 Redman Place London E20 1JQ
Coordinates51°31′54″N 0°06′24″W / 51.531545°N 0.106587°W / 51.531545; -0.106587
Key people
Michelle Mitchell (CEO)
Charles Swanton (Chief Clinician)
Karen Vousden (Chief Scientist)
£634.81 million (2015)[1]
3,964 (2015)[1]
40,000 (2015)[1]
Formerly called
Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF)
The Cancer Research Campaign

Cancer Research UK is a cancer research and awareness charity in the United Kingdom[1] and Isle of Man, formed on 4 February 2002 by the merger of The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.[2] Its aim is to reduce the number of deaths from cancer. As the world's largest independent cancer research charity[3][4] it conducts research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Research activities are carried out in institutes, universities and hospitals across the UK, both by the charity's own employees and by its grant-funded researchers. It also provides information about cancer and runs campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the disease and influencing public policy.[5][6][7]

Cancer Research UK's work is almost entirely funded by the public. It raises money through donations, legacies, community fundraising, events, retail and corporate partnerships. Over 40,000 people are regular volunteers.[1]


The Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) was founded in 1902 as the Cancer Research Fund, changing its name to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund two years later. The charity grew over the next twenty years to become one of the world's leading cancer research charities.[8] Its flagship laboratories formerly at Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, and Clare Hall, Hertfordshire, and known as the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, are now part of the Francis Crick Institute.[3]

The British Empire Cancer Campaign (BECC) was founded in 1923, and initially drew a hostile response from ICRF and the Medical Research Council, who considered it a rival.[8][9] "The Campaign", as it was colloquially known, became a very successful and powerful grant-giving body. In 1970, the charity was renamed The Cancer Research Campaign (CRC).[9]

In 2002 the two charities agreed to merge to form Cancer Research UK, the largest independent research organisation in the world dedicated to fighting cancer (the largest, the National Cancer Institute, is funded by the US Government).[10][11] At the time of the merger, the ICRF had an annual income of £124m, while the CRC had an income of £101m.[10]


The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute.

In the financial year 2014/15 the charity spent £422.67 million on cancer research projects (around 67% of its total income for that year). The bulk of the remaining costs were spent on trading and fundraising costs with a small amount also spent on information services, campaigning, advocacy, administration and other activities or was held in reserve.[1] The charity funds the work of over 4,000 researchers, doctors and nurses throughout the UK, supports over 200 clinical trials and studies cancer and cancer risk in over a million people in the UK.[12]

Around 40% of the charity's research expenditure goes on basic laboratory research relevant to all types of cancer into the molecular basis of cancer. The research is intended to improve understanding of how cancer develops and spreads and thus provide a foundation for other research.[13] The rest of its funding is used to support research into over 100 specific cancer types, focusing on key areas such as drug discovery and development; prevention, early detection and imaging; surgery and radiotherapy; and cancers where survival rates are still low, such as oesophageal, lung and pancreatic cancers.[14]

Research facilities[edit]

In addition to funding individual researchers and projects, CRUK has several research institutes:[15]

CRUK is a partner in:

Citizen Science Projects[edit]

CRUK participates in numerous Citizen science projects including:

  • Cell Slider - Cancer Research UK's first project set up in 2012. Samples of breast cancer tumours, taken from earlier studies, were analysed through a web-based application.
  • Play to cure: Genes in Space - First mobile game which involved analysing cancer data.
  • Reverse the Odds - Another mobile game which aimed to improve upon 'Play to cure: Genes in Space' in terms of accuracy, involved completing puzzles and answering questions on lung and bladder cancer samples.
  • The Impossible Line - Another mobile puzzle game which now involved spotting genetic faults in breast cancer data, provided evidence that the game aspect lowered accuracy.
  • Trailblazer - Latest project, in the form of a web-based application looking at tissue samples identifying the presence and absence of cancer cells. Aimed to improve accuracy by adapting the application after receiving feedback.[18]


The charity works in partnership with other organisations. These include the UK Department of Health, the Wellcome Trust, the National Health Service, NICE, and the Public Health England National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service. It is one of the partners in the National Cancer Research Institute which also includes the Medical Research Council (UK) and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.[19] It is also a major partner in the Francis Crick Institute.[20] Cancer Research UK leverages many celebrity patrons to help raise funds including Richard Branson, Kelly Osbourne, and Benedict Cumberbatch.[21]

Achievements and impact[edit]

Cancer Research UK scientists have been involved in the discovery and development of a number of clinically approved cancer drugs, including:

Several of Cancer Research UK's scientists have also won major prizes, including:

Other charitable activities[edit]

Information services[edit]

The charity provides information to the general public, the scientific community and healthcare professionals. Through Cancer Health UK, a website written in Plain English for anyone affected by cancer, it provides information on cancer and cancer care, and a unique clinical trials database.[2] A specialist team of cancer information nurses provides a confidential telephone service, the Cancer Chat forum provides a place for users to talk to others affected by cancer, and mobile cancer awareness units deliver health information to locations where cancer incidence and mortality are higher than average. It provides statistical information to healthcare professionals via the Cancer Stats section It also provides publications for the public to order and download at

Cancer Research UK also publishes a twice-monthly professional medical journal, the British Journal of Cancer.

Influencing public policy[edit]

The charity works with the UK governments to inform and improve cancer services. It worked to bring about the smoking ban in England and continues to campaign for further action on smoking.[31] The charity lobbies for better screening programmes and advises on access to new cancer medicines, amongst other issues.


A Cancer Research UK charity shop in Bristol.

Fundraisers for CRUK include Race for Life, Stand Up to Cancer UK and a one off Race Against Cancer. On 18 July 2012 it was announced that Cancer Research UK was to receive its largest ever single donation of £10 million from an anonymous donor. The money went towards the £100 million funding needed for the Francis Crick Institute in London, the largest biomedical research building in Europe.[32]


In June 2011 Cancer Research UK was one of several health charities (along with the British Heart Foundation, the Alzheimer's Society and Parkinson's UK) targeted by the animal rights organisation Animal Aid in a publicity campaign involving a series of advertisements in British newspapers urging members of the public to stop giving donations to organizations that fund medical research involving animal experiments.[33][34]

In April 2017 the Information Commissioner’s Office fined eleven charities that breached the Data Protection Act by misusing donors’ personal data. Cancer Research UK was fined £16,000.[35]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Charity Commission. Cancer Research UK, registered charity no. 1089464.
  2. ^ a b Gaze, Mark N.; Wilson, Isobel M. (15 July 2002). Handbook of Community Cancer Care. Cambridge University Press. p. 272. ISBN 978-1-84110-001-2. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Cancer charity mega-merger". BBC News. 11 December 2001.
  4. ^ "The Top 500 Charities". Archived from the original on March 2, 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Annual Report and Accounts" (PDF). 2001-12-11. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 28, 2012. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  6. ^ [1] Report on 2008/9 research activities Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ [2] Annual Review 2010/11 Archived May 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b Austoker, Joan. A history of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, 1902-1986. Oxford University Press, 1988.
  9. ^ a b Cancer Research Campaign formerly British Empire Cancer Campaign, 1923-1981. Wellcome Library Archive. Retrieved 1 February 2011
  10. ^ a b World's biggest cancer charity formed, The Guardian, 4 February 2002.
  11. ^ "Cancer Research UK". Nat. Cell Biol. 4 (3): E45. March 2002. doi:10.1038/ncb0302-e45. PMID 11875441.
  12. ^ "Cancer Research UK: What we do" (PDF). 2011-03-31. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 11, 2014. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  13. ^ "Cancer Research UK: Our strategy 2009-2014". Archived from the original on 2010-07-10. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  14. ^ "Annual Report and Accounts". 2014-09-11.
  15. ^ "Our institutes". Cancer Research UK. 2017-06-20. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  16. ^ "Welcome to the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute". University of Manchester. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Reaarch Beacons: Cancer". University of Manchester. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  18. ^ "The projects". Cancer Research UK. 2016-03-02. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  19. ^ Rafi, Imran (4 January 2006). An Introduction to the Use of Anticancer Drugs. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7506-8830-7. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  20. ^ "Project Press Release". UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation web site. 21 June 2010. Archived from the original on June 24, 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  21. ^ "Cancer Research UK: Celebrity Supporters". Look to the Stars. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  22. ^ Lucy Holmes (2015-08-26). "Our milestones: Cisplatin – the story of a platinum-selling life-saver - Cancer Research UK - Science blog". Chemico-Biological Interactions. 5 (6): 415–24. PMID 4652593. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  23. ^ Scowcroft H (21 September 2011). "Where did abiraterone come from?". Science Update Blog. 38 (13): 2463–71. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
  24. ^ "Temozolomide: the brain tumour superstar". Cancer Research UK. 2017-07-26. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  25. ^ "Rucaparib: targeting DNA repair and a patient's perspective". Cancer Research UK. 2017-07-21. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  26. ^ "Tamoxifen – the start of something big". Cancer Research UK - Science blog. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  27. ^ Broad, William J. (2015-10-07). "Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar for DNA Studies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-07.
  28. ^ Staff (7 October 2015). "THE NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY 2015 - DNA repair – providing chemical stability for life" (PDF). Nobel Prize. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  29. ^ The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2001.
  30. ^ Kathy Weston (2015-10-05). "Counting lumps in the lawn: a look back at the 1975 Nobel Prize - Cancer Research UK - Science blog". Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  31. ^ "Chief medic considered quitting". BBC News. 24 November 2005. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  32. ^ "Cancer Research UK is handed £10m". Cambridge News. 18 July 1012.
  33. ^ Wright, Oliver (21 June 2011). "Animal rights group declares war on leading health charities". London: The Independent. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  34. ^ "Charities are attacked over experiments". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 20 June 2011.
  35. ^ "fines eleven more charities". ICO. 2017-06-05. Retrieved 2018-06-16.

External links[edit]