World leading clinician-scientist to head cancer research in Manchester

Bristow 1 MD PhD

One of the world’s leading prostate cancer experts has been appointed by The University of Manchester to lead its cancer research strategy and to be the new Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC).

Professor Rob Bristow, who is currently at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and University of Toronto, Canada, will take up his appointment in August.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor at The University of Manchester, commented: “Rob Bristow will be joining Manchester at a pivotal and exciting time. As an internationally-renowned clinician-scientist, he combines excellent laboratory research with deep clinical understanding that will significantly benefit patients.

“He will take over from Professor Nic Jones who has lead the MCRC from its inception 10 years ago into one of the leading international cancer centres. I’m pleased that Nic will continue to work closely with the University advising on major strategic initiatives and research awards.”


Professor Bristow has led a multi-national consortium to identify genomic signatures that predict the course of progression of prostate cancer and responses to drugs, surgery and radiotherapy. This work has the potential to dramatically advance personalised medicine approaches to treating aggressive prostate cancer.

He said: “I am looking forward to working with the outstanding network of scientific and clinical researchers in Greater Manchester and together we will define personalised cancer medicine for patients worldwide. This will be achieved by energetically driving Manchester-based basic and translational cancer research into our clinics.

“I want to work together to bring our cancer research domains into a singular strategic vision under the umbrella of a strengthened Manchester Cancer Research Centre. We will continue to drive the excellent reputation of cancer research and care within an emboldened MCRC to become the collaborator of choice with other international cancer institutes and networks.

“Frankly, Manchester is a place to do great things. It has the largest single-site University in Europe with a proven commitment to cancer research, as well as a top-tier, cancer-specific hospital in The Christie that treats more patients than any other centre in the UK or Europe. Importantly, Manchester is renowned for its ‘Team Science’ approach and has extensive infrastructure support with access to state-of-the-art technologies and expertise. I can’t wait to be part of this extraordinary Manchester team.”


Manchester is one of only two designated Major Centres supported by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) with more than £40 million awarded over the next five years, and cancer research is a prominent theme in the recent £28 million award of a Biomedical Research Centre. The MCRC is facilitating an expansion of research activity and, in addition, the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre – one of only six in the UK – offers a unique environment to ensure that research is translated into clinical benefit.

Sir Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of CRUK said: “We’re delighted that Professor Rob Bristow will be moving to Manchester from Toronto to lead our world-class team at the Manchester Cancer Research Centre.

“Professor Bristow is globally renowned for his ground-breaking work outlining how genomic faults in prostate cancer can predict treatment response. Patients treated at The Christie Hospital will greatly benefit from this expertise.

“As a clinician-scientist Professor Bristow has also been at the forefront of developments in radiotherapy and medical biophysics. I am confident that his leadership and personal scientific excellence will drive Manchester further forward as a powerhouse in cancer research, not just in the North West of England but across the world.”

Additionally, Professor Bristow will take up the post of Senior Group Leader in the CRUK Manchester Institute. It’s director, Professor Richard Marais, added: “I’m delighted that Rob will be joining the faculty of the Institute and look forward to working with him to develop our prostate cancer and other Precision Medicine programmes to improve patient care.”

Greater Manchester is uniquely placed to be in the vanguard of cancer research in the UK. A key ambition of Devolution Manchester – in which the Government has devolved and integrated the city region’s health and social care system – is to hasten the translation of research into health benefits, presenting an unrivalled opportunity to lead developments in the implementation of clinically-validated cancer research into standard practice.

The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership – made up of the 37 NHS bodies, councils and partner organisations in the city region – is overseeing devolution and taking charge of the £6 billion health and social care budget.

Dr Richard Preece, chair of the Greater Manchester Cancer Board and Executive Lead for Quality for the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Our region-wide cancer plan has a particular focus on the importance of research in improving our knowledge of cancer and how this leads to outstanding care for patients. Greater Manchester is already well known as a centre for quality cancer research and exceptional clinical and scientific knowledge, and the appointment of a distinguished academic such as Rob Bristow is excellent news.”


Professor Bristow will also have an impact on clinical care at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, giving patients direct access to his expertise.

The Christie has been ranked the top specialist trust in England by the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, and the UK’s first Proton Therapy service will begin at the hospital in early 2018.

Its Chief Executive, Roger Spencer, leads for Manchester in the National Cancer Vanguard developing and testing new models of care. He said: “Rob Bristow is an outstanding consultant with a reputation for world-class research. At The Christie we continue to attract people of the highest calibre to work alongside our team of eminent specialists. Patients will now have access to treatment by one of the world’s leading prostate cancer experts.”

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