Cancer Research UK earmarks £123m for Scottish R&D


Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has said it will award £123 million ($150 million) in funding over the next seven years to Scotland’s Beatson Institute, which will be renamed the CRUK Scotland Institute.

The medical charity – which currently funds around 60% of non-commercial cancer research in Scotland – reckons the country has the potential to become a “major global hub” for oncology R&D However,  like the rest of the UK, it trails comparable countries when it comes to cancer survival rates.

The new funding will help attract international talent and support around 300 researchers and 100 support staff across 30 research groups. It represents a sizeable proportion of CRUK’s overall spending on research funding, which reached around £415 million last year overall. The charity already invests around £33 million in Scotland each year.

The CRUK Scotland Institute will continue to be led by Professor Owen Sansom, who said the cash injection is “in recognition of the hard work and determination of our researchers to find new ways to tackle cancer.”

Among the areas where the money will be spent are projects seeking to understand the cellular metabolism in cancer and ways to target this for cancer therapy, the tumour microenvironment in metastasis and cancer reoccurrence, and the biology of early disease to guide the development of ‘precision prevention’ approaches.

The Institute’s teams are investigating “the very roots of why cancer begins, to finding new less-invasive ways of screening and testing for the disease, as well as innovative ways to use imaging technology to monitor the progress of cancers and the effectiveness of treatment to ensure better outcomes for everyone,” said Prof Sansom.

There will be a particular focus on specific types of cancer which have a big impact on Scotland’s population, including those affecting the liver, pancreatic, bowel, and the lungs, said CRUK.

Around 34,100 people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland every year, and while R&D can help bring new therapeutic options to patients, the country continues to struggle with long NHS waiting lists and lower screening rates in deprived communities.

CRUK chief executive Michelle Mitchell pointed to the “long heritage of success in finding new ways to tackle cancer in Scotland”, adding that the Institute is “very much a national centre of excellence and will be key to us achieving our ultimate goal of beating cancer sooner.”

She went on to say that the new investment “reflects our confidence that Scotland can go even further in becoming a major competitor on an increasingly competitive worldwide cancer research stage as we aim for a ‘golden era’ of life sciences.”