Our integrated clinical, translational and basic scientific research programmes address clinically unmet needs. Our principal objective is to promote evidence-based, innovative research including clinical trials which will underpin improved patient outcomes in cancers of high incidence, namely solid tumours of breast, colorectal, medical, thoracic and urological malignancy, immunotherapy and experimental cancer medicine. Our unifying research theme is to develop translational outputs in the form of biomarkers and/or novel therapeutic strategies that enable PGJCCR to be at the forefront of experimental and personalised cancer medicine in these prevalent diseases
Research in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences (SMDBS; Head of School - Prof Pascal McKeown) is co-ordinated through our three leading discipline-based centres of excellence: the Centre for Public Health (CPH), Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM), and the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research (PGJCCR). The Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility (NICRF) is also part of the School. The School is committed to interdisciplinary research and each of these research centres work together providing cross-cutting disciplinary expertise in different disease areas of strength, particularly in clinical trials. This will be supported by the Institute of Research Excellence in Advanced Clinical Healthcare (iREACH), a new innovation project supported by the Belfast Region City Deal to drive enhanced collaboration of academia, industry and public sector to drive evaluation of drugs and integration into care pathways.
The PGJCCR, which was formed as a virtual Centre in 2004 under the leadership of Prof Patrick Johnston, moved in 2007 into a bespoke 5000m2 purpose-built facility close to the regional Northern Ireland Cancer Centre (NICC), providing an academic-clinical interface for translational science. In 2015, the Centre expanded to occupy an additional 3000m2 in the adjacent Health Sciences Building (HSB). Today, PGJCCR has 44 Principal Investigators (PIs), led by Prof Chris Scott.
In total the Centre has >120 staff, complemented by 75 post-graduate research (PGR) and 40 post-graduate taught (PGT) students. Industrial partnerships form a key element of the PGJCCR, acknowledging that successful impact in cancer research requires close multi-sectoral collaborations. The Centre also has a UK-leading Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) strategy, devised in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Cancer Research Consumer Forum. Within PGJCCR there are established translational scientists with active research programmes in the epigenetics, DNA repair or immune responses within blood cancers. In addition, there is established cohort of clinical academics in both surgical oncology and medical and clinical oncology.
There is full support for phase I – IV cancer clinical trials and translational studies through the Belfast Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (Clinical Lead - Professor Vicky Coyle and Scientific Lead - Prof. Dan Longley) and the N. Ireland Cancer Trials Network (Clinical Director - Mr Stuart McIntosh).
For further details of the clinical and translational research infrastructure in place, please see the websites below: