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MRC Cancer Unit


The MRC Cancer Unit is a purpose-built cancer research facility. We have access to a wide-range of equipment to suit our research needs, including those housed in other University Departments and Institutes or in centralised University facilities (example capacity share of the Next Generation Sequencing facility at the CRUK CI, access to the University's Biological Model Support Facility at the Biomedical Campus); here are just a few examples of equipment that is available in-house.


The imaging facility provides researchers with state of the art equipment to observe cellular and molecular processes in living or fixed cells and tissue. A variety of imaging techniques ranging from highly sensitive widefield microscopes to laser scanning confocals capable of Two photon excitation, fluorescence life time imaging (FLIM), FRET and fluorescence anisotropy in addition to optogenetics, laser microdissection and high content screening provide the resources for our researchers to meet their scientific goals. Microscopes within the facility include:

Leica SP5MP inverted confocal microscope

The Leica SP5 MP is equipped with a Chameleon Vision2 Ti:Sapphire multiphoton laser. The advantages of this microscope are multiphoton imaging FRET, FLIM and anisotropy.


Zeiss LSM 880 inverted confocal microscope

The Zeiss LSM880 is equipped with AiryScan and FCS modules. The advantages of this microscope are improved resolution in XYZ and the ability to monitor biochemical reactions in real time at the single molecule level.

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Widefield optogenetics microscope system

The widefield optogentics system is equipped with the Andor Mosaic Duet device enabling simultaneous activation and silencing of photo sensitive proteins in the cell. The advantage of this microscope is the ability to target photons of light with extreme precision, illuminating specific cells or intracellular compartments enabling light stimulation to control the behaviour of cells.


The Seahorse

Extracellular flux analyser allows researchers to investigate mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis in intact cells, enabling a fast and reliable overview on cellular metabolism that we can further investigate using our state-of-the-art metabolomics platforms

Thermo Scientific Q Exactive Orbitrap mass spectrometers

The Unit has 2 such machines one coupled to a Dionex UltiMate 3000 RSLC and the other to an UltiMate 3000 nanoRSLC high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) systems. These LC-MS platforms are capable of separating and measuring small molecule metabolites with high accuracy and resolution. An internal library of standards in combination with their exact mass, chromatographic retention time, and fragmentation data allows us to identify most common metabolites present in biofluids, tissues, and cells. By assessing the condition- and/or time-dependent changes in particular metabolites in complex samples, we aim to gain insight into biological processes and establish new paths of research thus leading to novel, and more targeted, cancer therapies.

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Cell sorting and flow cytometry

We have a joint (with CIMR) cell sorting and flow cytometry facility (headed by Dr Reiner Schulte). The facility is capable of performing cell sorting for researchers to isolate cell populations needed for further studies. Please visit for further details about this facility.

Flow Cytometry facility core team



To support the advanced computational approaches used in the MRC Cancer Unit, we host a dedicated 16 node high performance computing (HPC) cluster.

Additional scientific support services (media preparation, mycoplasma testing) are provided by a dedicated Laboratory Management team who manage core facilities and provide support in areas such as equipment and health and safety. Our researchers also have access to dedicated IT service as well as a canteen and well equipped meeting rooms, which are frequently used for informal scientific and social events.