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Institute of Cancer Research


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The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is one of the world’s most influential cancer research institutes, with an outstanding record of achievement dating back over 100 years.  The ICR is led by Chief Executive, Professor Paul Workman — an expert in cancer drug discovery. We are world leaders in identifying cancer genes, discovering cancer drugs, and developing precision radiotherapy. Together with our hospital partner, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, we are rated in the top four centers for cancer research and treatment worldwide.
As well as a world-class research institute, the ICR is a higher education institution and a college of the University of London. We came top in the league table of university research quality compiled from the Research Excellence Framework(REF 2014). The ICR has charitable status and relies on support from partner organizations, charities, donors, and the general public.
He ICR was founded in 1909 as The Cancer Hospital Research Institute, a small research laboratory within The Royal Marsden in Chelsea. Prince Arthur officially opened it, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, in 1911 during his visit to award The Royal Marsden its Royal Charter.
When the NHS was formed in 1948, the ICR became independent from The Royal Marsden, requiring a legal separation of the two organizations. However, the ICR still works in close partnership with the hospital, allowing us to have a unique ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach. Together, the two organizations are rated in the top four centers for cancer research and treatment in the world.
Throughout the ICR’s history, the organization has grown substantially, and in the 1930s, expanded into larger premises at its current location in 237 Fulham Road. Alongside The Royal Marsden, we expanded to a second London site in Sutton in the 1950s to work on the new field of nuclear medicine, creating a center of excellence in medical physics and radiotherapy.
Right from the start, ICR researchers have made pioneering discoveries that have helped drive forward cancer research worldwide and had significant benefits for patients. In the 1920s and 30s, our scientists made some of the first discoveries of carcinogenic compounds in coal tar. Throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, ICR researchers carried out crucial early work on the role of chemotherapy, developing melphalan and chlorambucil – two drugs still used to treat cancer today.
In the 1960s, ICR researchers provided the first conclusive evidence that DNA damage is the fundamental cause of cancer, and showed the essential role of the thymus in our immune systems – a discovery that helped pave the way to modern immunotherapy.
The ICR believes Big Data has the potential to transform the cancer research landscape. To properly seize the opportunities offered, we need new approaches to data collection, curation and analysis, and support for infrastructure, education, and training. The ICR believes it is essential for UK science to continue to welcome researchers from across the UK and worldwide to work in this country. A statement on the regulation and transparency of clinical trials from The Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The ICR believes the EU’s system of pediatric investigational plans (PIPs) needs to be revised to ensure cancer drugs developed for adults are also tested in children whenever their mechanism of action suggests they could be useful.

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