Research course

Medical Science (MRC Cancer Unit)

University of Cambridge · MRC Cancer Unit

Entry requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK 2:1 Honours Degree.

Months of entry

January, April, October

Course content

The MRC Cancer Unit (CU) is based within the Hutchison/MRC Research Centre - a state-of-the-art cancer research facility. The Unit provides a world-class environment for academic and clinical research and an excellent education and training programme for prospective students.

Our mission is to study the earliest steps in the emergence of cancer, particularly epithelial cancers, and translate this knowledge to clinical application for the benefit of patients. Our focus is (a) to improve the early detection of cancer, (b) to help identify individuals who are most at risk of developing cancer, and (c) to create more effective strategies for intervention.

We believe that improved understanding of the earliest steps in the transformation of normal cells into cancers - a relatively less well-studied area - will lead to new, improved and cost-effective methods with fewer side effects that ultimately benefit the care and survival of patients with common and serious malignancies such as oesophageal, skin, lung, kidney and pancreatic cancer. Our Unit is one of only a few centres worldwide whose mission is to address this priority.

The research programmes within the Unit approach this mission collectively and routinely collaborate with each other using complementary approaches involving preclinical and clinical models for pathogenesis, imaging and the use of chemical tools, data integration & modelling to focus on the key questions of:

What molecular events underlie tumour initiation? When do these events occur? How do they determine cancer progression and therapeutic responsiveness? And finally, how can they be exploited in new interventions?

Our location in the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and connections with the University Clinical School places us at the hub of biomedical research in the University, where we benefit from extensive collaborations with our partner institutions in the Cambridge Cancer Centre and other MRC laboratories. We also have extensive and highly productive scientific cross-disciplinary collaborations spanning the faculties of Physical and Chemical Sciences, Engineering and Biological Sciences from within the University as well as the ever-growing commercial biotech and pharmaceutical company landscape in and around Cambridge.

We pride ourselves as being a dedicated Unit that provides excellent facilities and a unique multi-disciplinary environment that enables the best possible training for the next generation of world-class researchers.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    full time
    36-48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details