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Oxford secures £7.8M funding to become Cancer Research UK’s joint largest Centre for training clinical academics.

Multiplex IF image of skin biopsy © Alistair Easton

Lead by Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre co-director Mark Middleton, this funding (for 8 DPhil studentships per year) galvanises Oxford’s position as one of the world’s leading Centres for the training of clinician scientists. With the additional funding the Centre will more than double its clinical DPhil intake for 2020, and for the first time allow medical undergraduates, in addition to clinical trainees, the opportunity to commit to a career in cancer research.

The successful Oxford team that included Dr. Catherine Swales (Oxford Medical School Director of Clinical Studies), Rob Gilbert (Director Of Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre), Chris Pugh (Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School Director), Denise Best (Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School Associate Director) and Chris Norbury (Medical School Deputy Director Of Pre-Clinical Studies) structured Oxford’s scheme to provide researchers:

  • The opportunity to receive research training in world leading laboratory environments across both the Medical Sciences and Mathematical, Physics and Life Sciences Divisions.
  • The ability to gain a working in-depth knowledge of the fundamentals of cancer biology and cancer patient care through advanced level seminars.
  • An environment that nurtures talent and offers a post award support programme that has historically meant Oxford students are 20 times more likely than the national average to develop an independent academic career.

This vision for training the next generation of cancer researchers will be delivered through the newly launched DPhil in Cancer Science Programme, a Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre. This new qualification is available to both clinician and non-clinicians, will have an annual intake of between 11 and 20 students per year, bring cancer and oncology training of DPhil students at Oxford into line with other diseases and help drive improvements in cancer patient care using Oxford research expertise in the near future.

Professor Mark Middleton, Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre Co-Director, said: 'We are tremendously grateful to Cancer Research UK and their donors for the confidence they have shown in enabling us to build a new training platform that will provide cancer research leaders of the future a unique and exciting first step into the field.'

Dr Karen Noble, Cancer Research UK Head of Research Careers, said: 'Clinical researchers play an important role in helping CRUK achieve its mission of seeing 3 in 4 people survive their cancer within the next 20 years. Through the funding to Oxford, the best people will be able to train in the best labs at the time in their career that best suits them. As well as support for clinical trainees, we are excited to be funding MB-DPhil training, which will enable aspiring clinician scientists to undertake a DPhil as part of their medical degree.'

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