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Department A-Z


The MRC Cancer Unit is both a core-funded Unit of the UK Medical Research Council, as well as an academic department of the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge. Our mission is to study the earliest steps in the emergence of cancer, and translate this knowledge to clinical application for the benefit of patients. We aim to improve the early detection of cancer, to help identify individuals who are most at risk of developing cancer, and to create more effective treatments for cancer, through the invention of innovative technologies.

Early intervention in cancer through improvements in prevention, detection and treatment offers tremendous promise in combating the disease. But relatively little research is carried out on understanding how cancers develop, or how to translate this understanding to the clinic. Our Unit is one of only a few centres worldwide whose mission is to address this priority. Ten faculty-led research programmes in the Unit include over 130 staff and students, and span a range of disciplines including biochemistry and molecular biology, genetics, physics, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, computational biology, clinical medicine and surgery.

Our location in the Cambridge Biomedical Campus places us at the hub of biomedical research in the University, where we benefit from extensive collaborations with our partner institutions in the Cambridge Cancer Centre like the CRUK Cambridge Institute, clinical and research departments in the School of Clinical Medicine, other MRC laboratories including the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and the Institute of Metabolic Sciences, and commercial partners like AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline. Welcome to our web pages! We hope that you will enjoy them.

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Seminars and Events


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New Blog Post

Image of the Month: ‘The Tumour Microenvironment - A Dynamic Niche’

This month’s blog reports on research at the MRC Cancer Unit. Our ‘Image of the Month’ post describes one of the images that was selected (from our recent image competition) for display on the walls of our building. This image depicts tumour cells (blue), surrounded by the tumour microenvironment of collagen matrix (green) and cancer-associated fibroblasts (magenta).

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MRC funded PhD studentships for entry in October 2016

We possess excellent research facilities, strong collaborations with clinicians and colleagues in other disciplines, and a vibrant and supportive working environment. In addition to our outstanding research environment we offer a stipend of £18,000 pa for eligible students.

Visit the studentships page for details of our PhD opportunities for entry in October 2016.

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Upcoming Seminars and Events

Recent Publications

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