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Bristol announces new £4.1M cancer research programme

Press release issued: 21 October 2015

A major new £4.1 million cancer research programme that will focus on new ways to prevent and predict cancer development and progression is announced today [21 Oct] by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and the University of Bristol.

The five-year Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Programme (ICEP), funded by Cancer Research UK, will use advances in genetics and molecular technology to understand the causes of the disease, and to inform the development of preventative interventions in people at risk of, or diagnosed with, cancer.

The programme will carry out research into identifying novel markers that accurately define cancer risk and prognosis by analysing large quantities of genetic data of populations.  Led by scientists at Bristol’s MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit in the School of Social and Community Medicine, the team will work in collaboration with researchers at Bristol’s School for Clinical Sciences, the International Agency for Research on Cancer at Lyon, and the Universities of Manchester and Oxford.

Studies will include research into biomarker tests, which look at an individual’s genetics and their risk of developing the disease, and could help improve early diagnosis and our ability to tailor treatments to patients. Other studies will focus on finding out if it is possible to confidently identify aspects of diet or lifestyle or physiology, which if altered, could help reduce the risk of cancer or its progression. Research will drill down to the molecular level to investigate new ways of intervening to prevent cancer.

Professor Caroline Relton, Professor of Epigenetic Epidemiology, School of Social and Community Medicine and co-Director of the new ICEP programme said: “This exciting new programme of research will give us the opportunity to study the role of molecular factors in pathways that link our environment and lifestyle to cancer risk. This will not only improve our understanding of the mechanisms that cause cancer but also opens up the opportunity to develop ways to change these molecular factors and so prevent cancer in the future.”

Richard Martin, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, School of Social and Community Medicine and co-Director of the new ICEP programme, said: “We aim to reduce the burden of cancer by conducting research that will identify risk factors and predictive tests that can help inform early diagnosis and improved treatment of some of the most prevalent cancers.”

Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s director of Clinical Research and Strategic Partnerships, added: “Over 330,000 cancers are diagnosed each year in the UK. This is forecast to rise to more than 425,000 by 2030. More than 40 per cent of these cases are linked to a combination of 14 major lifestyle and other factors. This new programme of research will investigate the molecular epidemiology of cancer in an effort to reduce its impact on society.”       

An event to launch the new Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Programme (ICEP) takes place today [21 October 2015] at the M-Shed. The event will comprise a series of talks led by eminent cancer scientists on significant findings to date and will include a key note talk on the prevention of premature mortality by Professor Sir Richard Peto, who has led ground-breaking studies on the prevention and treatment of cancer.  This will be followed by a free evening public lecture on whether e-cigarettes are the key to reducing smoking that was covered by The Guardian.

The interdisciplinary research programme involves 16 researchers across four schools at the University of Bristol, and investigators from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the Universities of Manchester and Oxford.

Further information

Launch event 

Time: 12.30 pm

Date: Wednesday 21 October 2015

Venue: Bristol’s M-Shed, Princes Wharf, Wapping Road, Bristol, BS1 4RN.

The launch event will include a key note talk on the prevention of premature mortality by Professor Sir Richard Peto, an eminent cancer scientist who has led ground-breaking studies on the prevention and treatment of cancer.

The event will also showcase some of the research from the University of Bristol and our partners that has laid the foundation for this major research programme, and programme Directors will present their vision for ICEP. To follow the launch, there will be an evening public lecture at 7 pm on 'Electronic cigarettes: products, prevalence and promise for reducing smoking'.

About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
  • Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years.
  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive cancer. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that 3 in 4 people will survive cancer within the next 20 years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
  • For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU)

The MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU) is a research unit based at the University of Bristol and with funding from the Medical Research Council. It uses genetics, population data and experimental interventions to look for the underlying causes of chronic disease.


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