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Graduate School

Oxford has made major contributions to our understanding of cancer. The link between smoking and cancer was demonstrated here by Sir Richard Doll and the existence of tumour suppressor genes was demonstrated in cell fusion experiments by Sir Henry Harris. Following substantial investment in the past decade, and the relocation of the Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research from London in 2007, Oxford now has one of the highest concentrations of world-class cancer research in the world.  Much of the expansion has occurred at the Old Road Campus, conveniently located near the new NHS Oxford Cancer Centre.

Oxford is rated particularly highly in cancer epidemiology, genome integrity, radiation biology and translational research. There is basic and translational research into environmental risk factors and the molecular genetic basis of cancer, including oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes, genome integrity and repair. The tumour environment has become a major new area of research, and Oxford leads the way in understanding the role of hypoxia, angiogenesis, growth factors, metastasis and stem cells in cancer. Oxford has invested in early phase clinical trials and developing personalized medicine in partnership with Cancer Research UK, and develops radiation treatments in partnership with the Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology.

Departments in which cancer research is a major theme include the Departments of Oncology and Biochemistry, the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology and the Nuffield Departments of: Clinical Medicine; Clinical Laboratory Sciences; Surgical Sciences; Primary Care Health Sciences; and Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences.

Cancer research is also performed in the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine and at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics.

Some supervisors working in this theme are not included here as they are not in the Medical Sciences Division. They can be found in the Departments of Chemistry, Engineering, Physics and Zoology

The Oxford Cancer Research Centre awards a number of generous 4 year DPhil studentships every year, funded by Cancer Research UK. All applicants applying on a cancer-related project, across all departments, will automatically be considered for these studentships and can explicitly request that they be considered when they make their application.  These prestigious studentships will be awarded to the highest calibre applicants from across all relevant Departments.


The Centre also awards 2 Clinical Research Fellowships each year, available for clinicians wishing to undertake a DPhil and provides MSc bursaries for clinicians and allied health professionals to undertake a MSc at Oxford.

Supervisors in Cancer


John Christianson
Mads Gyrd-Hansen
Udo Oppermann
Ian Tomlinson
Anton van der Merwe