About the Cancer Research UK National Biomarker Centre (NBC)

The mission of the Cancer Research UK National Biomarker Centre (NBC) at the University of Manchester is to discover, develop, validate and qualify biomarkers in clinical studies and trials that detect cancer earlier, predict risk of relapse after treatment, and anticipate and monitor therapy responses to inform and support optimised treatment of patients with cancer.

Caroline Dive, Centre Director

The NBC is a leading and highly specialised translational research facility, funded by Cancer Research UK, the largest independent cancer research organisation in the world. As a bridge between discovery science and clinical research, the NBC is highly collaborative across Manchester, nationally and internationally. We are perfectly located to deliver our mission, situated within the new Paterson Building on the site of the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, the largest cancer-specific hospital in Europe (with 19,000 new patients per annum) whose focus is on excellence in patient care and clinical research. Within the Paterson Building and the adjacent Ogelsby Research Building, the NBC also interacts with basic discovery scientists in the CRUK Manchester Institute and the University’s Division of Cancer Sciences. Collaborations across the wider Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC) encompass a broad spectrum of biomedical science expertise across the University and the affiliated NHS Trusts, affording enhanced opportunities for innovation in biomarker development.

NBC advanced research programmes, agnostic to cancer type, develop biomarkers in tissue and less invasive clinical samples such as blood (liquid biopsy) with sophisticated bioinformatic and Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions for multi-modal laboratory and clinical biomarker data analysis and interpretation. Our Centre is comprised of 5 laboratory-based teams; Preclinical Pharmacology, Tissue Biomarkers, Nucleic Acid Biomarkers, Translational Immunology and Rare Cells, alongside our Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Team and our most clinically facing team, Digital Cancer Research. The majority of our research projects are multi-disciplinary, requiring integration of specialist skills between teams.

  • Our Preclinical Pharmacology programme focusses on development of pharmacodynamic biomarkers with parallel evaluation of the efficacy of novel therapeutics in patient-derived models (xenografts, organoids and co-cultures).
  • The Translational Immunology team are exploring immune landscapes of early- and late-stage cancer and tackling the challenge of predictive biomarkers for immunotherapy toxicity and response.
  • The Nucleic Acids Biomarker team place emphasis on new technologies for sensitive and specific multi-modal liquid biopsies, developing, testing and implementing circulating DNA workflows to tackle early cancer detection, molecular subtypes, minimal residual disease monitoring and treatment responses.
  • The Rare Cells team are exploring the phenotypes of rare circulating cells and their utility to understand tumour progression and metastasis.
  • Our Bioinformatics and Biostatistics team works across all NBC projects, innovating and implementing computational methods and bioinformatics pipelines for increasingly complex biomarker analyses.
  • Our Digital Cancer Research Team create software solutions to visualise clinical and laboratory data (including a nationally implemented virtual molecular tumour board), devise and deliver digital clinical trials with our clinical colleagues (wearables and home-based sampling) and are developing AI approaches to support treatment decisions of the future.

Our Quality Assurance and Compliance experts overview our regulatory research to Good Clinical Practice standards.

Our research teams are underpinned by our Portfolio and Laboratory Management Team and fully supported by our Project Delivery and Administration Team.