Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A multi-disciplinary team of scientists, including Dr Claire Edwards from the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, has been shortlisted to the final stages of Cancer Research UK's Grand Challenge – an ambitious series of £20m global grants tackling some of the toughest questions in cancer research.

The team, led by Professor Peter Croucher at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, involves researchers at the University of Oxford, Garvan, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the University of Adelaide in Australia, as well as Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, the Babraham Institute (UK), Yale University (USA) and Washington University (USA).

The international collaboration, collectively called team InSIGHT (slaying the buried giant) aims to address the challenge of dormancy – when cancer returns after seemingly successful treatment due to dormant cancer cells that take refuge in other parts of the body. The team will focus on dormant breast cancer cells found in bones. Breast cancer is responsible for over 55,000 new diagnoses in the UK each year. Secondary breast cancer tumours are found in bones more than anywhere else in the body, indicating it is a preferred location for dormant breast cancer cells. Currently little is understood about treatment-resistant dormant cells, the team aims to examine them in fine molecular detail and hopefully uncover weaknesses that could help to beat more cancers for good.

The Reik group will primarily focus on changes to the cancer epigenome – the reversible chemical changes in cells that regulate gene activity throughout the genome. They will contribute their world-leading expertise in understanding large-scale epigenomics during development and disease. The group have developed techniques to study the epigenome of single cells, which can be used to uncover hidden variation within a group of cells. This has contributed to the discovery of several key mechanisms involved in epigenome reprogramming. Using these techniques, the team will examine epigenome reprogramming in cancer and attempt to identify rare markers that could be used to help detect dormant cells.

The InSIGHT team will receive seed-funding of up to £30,000 from Cancer Research UK to draft their full research proposal, and the winning proposal will be announced in autumn 2018.

The Grand Challenge award aims to revolutionise how we diagnose, prevent and treat cancer by providing international multi-disciplinary teams the freedom to try novel approaches, at scale, in the pursuit of life changing discoveries.

This is the second round of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge award and last year four teams were awarded up to £20 million each.

Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, said: “Round two of Grand Challenge is proving to be incredibly inspiring and the ambitious applications reflect the quality of global researchers this initiative has attracted to beat cancer sooner. We’re delighted with the teams we’ve shortlisted and look forward to hearing more about how they plan to tackle the toughest challenges in cancer research.”

Dr Rick Klausner, chair of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge advisory panel, said: “The challenges set for Grand Challenge have once again attracted some of the best researchers in the world. I’m looking forward to see how global collaboration could bring together diverse expertise, invigorate areas of research, and overcome barriers in ways that aren’t happening at this point in time.”

Similar stories

EndoNET randomises first patient of 2023

A trial investigating how effective endocrine treatment is, prior to surgery in post-menopausal women with breast cancer, has randomised its first patient of the year.

Sheraz Markar awarded Associate Professor title

We are very pleased to announce that Sheraz Markar has been awarded the title of Associate Professor by the University of Oxford.

New Associate Professor at NDS

The Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS) is very happy to report that Joanna Hester has been promoted to Associate Professor.

Blog posts

Staff Census: We need you!

All Medical Sciences staff are invited to log into HR self-service and ensure their contact, diversity background and disability details are up to date. Between 6% and 27% of staff in the Division are missing their diversity data which makes it difficult to complete statutory reporting, understand or track our population changes and to plan actions around staff diversity and equality – make sure your data is complete today!

Oxford MedSci goes silver: 10 Years of Athena SWAN

The Medical Sciences Division is celebrating 10 years since its first Athena Swan bronze application, and the first year in which all 16 of its departments have achieved a silver award. The silver award recognises commitment to gender equality, understanding culture and context, and more. Read about our department’s hard work and innovation.

Lights, camera, action! My journey into video production

Dr Hannah McGivern provides a 'behind-the-scenes' account of her experience producing the video 'Journey of a QUOD Sample: Donating to Transplant Research', supported by the funds from the University of Oxford Public Engagement with Research (PER) Seed Fund.