UCL shares in £10.5 million award to train cancer clinician scientists

UCL shares in £10.5 million award to train cancer clinician scientists - Credit:
UCL shares in £10.5 million award to train cancer clinician scientists - Credit: Alejandro Walter Salinas Lopez/UCL.
New funding awarded to the Cancer Research UK City of London Centre - a partnership between UCL, Queen Mary University London, King’s College London and the Francis Crick Institute - will enable more doctors to conduct cancer research alongside their clinical practice.

The City of London Centre provides a globally unique training environment for clinicians looking to conduct research. Along with healthcare partners and PhD students, the Centre offers opportunities to undertake world class collaborative projects.

Clinician scientists play an essential role in bridging the gap between scientific discovery research and clinical research involving patients, and make vital contributions to new knowledge and its translation to clinical practice.

The new funding award will allow the Centre to continue training the next generation of clinician scientists, enhance the diversity of their research teams and help to accelerate development of novel biological therapies.

Professor Tariq Enver, Director of the CRUK City of London Centre from UCL Cancer Institute, said: "Cancer Research UK’s continued commitment to our clinical training programme enables us to equip the next generation of clinical academics with the multidisciplinary skills they will need to develop the cancer treatments of the future."

Cancer Research UK’s Clinical Academic Training Programme (CATP) Award was established in 2019 with a five-year, £50.7 million investment spread across its research centres, including the City of London Centre. The new round of awards will continue to transform clinical research training at nine of CRUK’s research centres over the next five years.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, said: "Clinician scientists have a very important role to play by bringing their knowledge and experience of treating people with cancer to scientific research.

"We need all’our doctors and scientists to be able to reach their full potential, no matter their background. That’s why we are continuing to provide flexible training options for early-career clinician scientists. After the success of the first five years of this programme, we want to encourage even more clinicians to get involved in cancer research to help us get closer to a world where everybody lives longer, better lives free from the fear of cancer."

Becoming a clinician scientist usually involves doctors taking time out during their medical degree or training to undertake a PhD, before returning to train in their chosen specialisation. However, many clinicians don’t come back to research after qualifying as consultants, for various reasons.

Nearly three quarters of clinical research staff surveyed by Cancer Research UK in 2023 said that it has become harder to deliver research in a timely manner in the last 18 months, with 78% of respondents describing wider pressures on the health service as a substantial or extreme barrier. In addition, data from the Medical Schools Council Clinical Academic Survey reports a decline in the number of clinical academic positions between 2011-2020.

To address these issues and support clinician scientist training, the Cancer Research UK CATP award scheme provides funding for flexible training options, alongside mentorship and networking, to better support clinicians who want to get involved and stay in cancer research. The funding will allow the centre to offer PhD opportunities as part of a medical degree and to early career clinicians carrying out their medical training prior to specialisation.

The new City of London Centre Clinical Academic Training Programme bid was led by Professors Gerhardt Attard and Tariq Enver from UCL Cancer Institute, supported by a team of new clinical academic leads from all four partner institutions: Professor Veronica Kinsler (Francis Crick Institute), Professor Jessica Okosun (Queen Mary University London), Dr Debashis Sarker (King’s College London,) Professor Shibani Nicum (UCL), and Dr Sally Leevers, Training Lead (Francis Crick Institute).

Professor Gerhardt Attard, CRUK City of London Centre Clinical Academic Training Lead from UCL Cancer Institute, said: "The City of London Centre offers a rich environment for cross disciplinary training of clinical academics. Importantly the multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary nature of our training teams and projects brings our faculty together around these future leaders and their scientific aspirations."

Matt Midgley

(0)20 3108 6995

Email: m.midgley [at] ucl.ac.uk
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