MRC Cancer Unit

The Medical Research Council Cancer Unit is located in Cambridge and was established in 2001. It is based within the Hutchison/MRC Research Centre, which in turn is situated on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

MRC Cancer Unit
AbbreviationMRC CU
TypeResearch institute
Legal statusUniversity Unit
PurposeCancer research in the UK
HeadquartersHutchison/MRC Research Centre
Region served
Professor Ashok Venkitaraman
Parent organization
University of Cambridge and Medical Research Council
c. 100 cancer research scientists and support staff
WebsiteMRC Cancer Unit


The MRC Cancer Unit was established in 2001 (as the MRC Cancer Cell Unit) by Professor Ron Laskey CBE, who was also appointed as the Unit's first Director. Professor Laskey retired from the Unit in 2010.[1] His successor, and the Unit's current Director, is Professor Ashok Venkitaraman. As well as his position as Director of the MRC Cancer Unit, Professor Venkitaraman is also the Ursula Zoellner Professor of Cancer Research within the University of Cambridge. In October 2013, the Unit joined the University of Cambridge and changed its name to the MRC Cancer Unit.[2]

Research Areas

The Unit has a general research focus on investigating the early stages of epithelial cancers, with an overall goal of improving the detection and treatment of these cancers. There are currently seven active research programmes in the Unit, which cover the following areas: chromosomal instability, Barrett's oesophagus and oesohago-gastric carcinoma, cell fate and cancer, lung tumour evolution, cancer metabolism, lymphatics and the tumour microenvironment, and cancer metastasis.[3]


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