Blog POSTED ON: 12 December 2018

Richard Hoey, The Institute of Cancer Research, London‘s Director of Communications, shares the scientific vision for The London Cancer Hub.

The project is projected to have a wide range of benefits – most importantly a transformative effect on the lives of cancer patients.

The London Cancer Hub is a hugely exciting project for lots of different reasons.

The London Borough of Sutton and my own organisation, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, are working together to create a global centre for cancer research and innovation.

The idea is that this will be a vibrant community of scientists, doctors and innovative companies, closely collaborating on cancer research and treatment, supported by state-of-the-art facilities.

And the expectation is that The London Cancer Hub will deliver a wide range of benefits.

Highly attractive investment opportunity

As one of London’s largest redevelopment projects, it is projected to create more than 13,000 jobs, in life sciences, supporting industries and construction.

A new report for the London Property Alliance places The London Cancer Hub among London’s top four knowledge clusters and rates it as a highly attractive investment opportunity.

And forecasts suggest that The London Cancer Hub will stimulate growth in the life-science industry, and could contribute as much as £1.2 billion a year to the UK economy.

All of these potential outcomes are worthy of plenty of excitement, but none of them is really why the ICR is so pleased to be involved. Our interest is simple – we believe that The London Cancer Hub can have a transformative effect on the science conducted on our site, and deliver dramatic benefits for patients.

The London Cancer Hub will provide a unique chance for innovative companies to work side by side with world-class researchers from the ICR and The Royal Marsden. We expect to see these groups working together in an enterprising and imaginative fashion, building a culture of innovation.

A good example is the proposal for a Knowledge Centre as a flagship building on the site. This would in some ways be The London Cancer Hub in microcosm, with the potential to bring together ICR researchers and technology transfer specialists with representatives from biotech, medtech and pharmaceutical companies.

Collaboration will benefit for ‘our ability to discover and develop cancer drugs’

We know that working together in such proximity, with the ability to share resources and expertise, can be tremendously productive. We plan to stimulate interactions through shared facilities and by creating a programme of knowledge exchange activities, so that the ICR and its commercial partners can learn from one another.

We think this intensely collaborative model of working will have real benefits for our ability to discover and develop cancer drugs. It is expected to lead to more drugs being discovered in the first place, and to increase the chances that each one of these drugs can make it to the market.

The ICR and the London Borough of Sutton also expect that The London Cancer Hub will drive inward investment, and so greatly enhance the technologies and facilities available to everyone working on the site. That too will accelerate the pace of our research.

At the ICR, we’re already developing state-of-the-art biology and chemistry facilities to underpin our research into cancer drug discovery and enhance our ability to collaborate at an early stage with biotech and pharma companies.

We will seek too to build on our world-leading radiotherapy research by expanding the range of state-of-the-art radiotherapy facilities available on the site, underpinned by excellent physics research.

And we plan to develop world-leading digital infrastructure and data management systems to support our own pioneering research into AI and Big Data, in collaboration with a new network of data research companies.

Supporting the next generation of cancer researchers

Through its great location, international connections and fantastic facilities, The London Cancer Hub will be perfectly placed to attract world-class scientists, clinicians and commercial innovators.

And it will support the education and training of the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians, and develop them as future leaders by offering them an exciting range of career opportunities.

All of this will support the ICR in meeting the vision for our research, of combating cancer’s complexity, evolution and drug resistance.

The scientific benefits will of course lead to economic ones. The ICR is already the leading higher education institution in the UK for generating invention income from its research, and we expect that The London Cancer Hub can help us substantially grow the income we generate with our commercial partners.

Those economic benefits are tremendously important, but for the ICR they will always be secondary to the impact we can have through our research in transforming the lives of cancer patients.