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13 February, 2018 - 11:47 By Tony Quested

Cambridge cancer centre first in UK to make European elite

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre has become the first UK institute to be designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center of Excellence by the European Academy of Cancer Sciences (EACS).

The combination of world-leading science and cutting-edge technology in Cambridge means that patients are benefiting from new ways to spot and treat the earliest signs of cancer, more effective and kinder therapies, and treatments that are tailored to individual patients.

Cambridge receives the recognition as one of the top two cancer centres in Europe for outstanding academic research that is improving outcomes for cancer patients, alongside the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

Professor Carlos Caldas (pictured above), director of the Breast Cancer Programme and lead for European collaborations at the CRUK Cambridge Centre said: “This new and prestigious designation by the EACS is for us an enormous privilege and also a responsibility.

“This designation only makes us even more focused in delivering outstanding clinical care for our patients underpinned by the world-class research programmes at the University and CRUK Cambridge Institute.”

The European Academy of Cancer Sciences was created in 2009 as an independent advisory body of eminent oncologists and cancer researchers, placing science at the core of policies to sustainably reduce the death and suffering caused by cancer in Europe.

The EACS designation is highly regarded because the Academy has spent several years developing a rigorous methodology for assessing how well cancer centres are doing in conducting translational research.
This is the process of translating the latest scientific discoveries into clinical applications which will improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients – often coined ‘from bench to bedside and back’.

Dr Anton Berns, who chairs the EACS committee overseeing the Designation of Excellence process, said: “I was very impressed by Cambridge’s capacity to bring together so many highly motivated talented scientists and clinicians in one ambitious synergistic endeavour.

“This is the type of setting that will make a difference for cancer patients and that is precisely why they are so deserving of this prestigious title. Clearly, an example for other institutions to follow.”

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre is one of only two Cancer Research UK Centres that was elevated to Major Centre status in 2017, and is now the largest CRUK Cancer Centre by funding. 

The centre unites more than 600 laboratory and healthcare professionals around a common mission to end death and disease caused by cancer, and holds a cancer-related grant portfolio totalling approximately £100 million a year.

It was the first cancer centre in Europe based at a university hospital to be accredited by the Organisation European Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2013.

Centre members are based in two major teaching hospitals, 28 university departments, nine allied institutions and four major pharmaceutical companies across the wider Cambridge area. 

The centre is now organised into 12 Programmes that focus on the most common and difficult to treat cancers, as well as basic research disciplines in which the University of Cambridge has particular expertise.
Major inter-disciplinary research themes ongoing in the centre are uniting teams of biomedical, physical and mathematical scientists who are developing approaches to detect and treat cancer as early and precisely as possible.

Professor Richard Gilbertson, the Li Ka Shing chair of Oncology at Cambridge University and director of the CRUK Cambridge Centre says: “Cancer is a global scourge that will require deep integration of treatment and research if we are to defeat it for good. 

“Centres like Cambridge University and the Netherlands Cancer Institute are key components in this effort, where teams of the brightest clinicians and scientists work with together with patients to discover and develop new cures. This award recognises the impactful partnership between our patients and staff and their efforts to work internationally to cure cancer.”

• The EACS carried out the assessment of the CRUK Cambridge Centre and NKI with financial support from the ARC Foundation for Cancer Research.

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