Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs)

The NIHR funds 14 Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres across England in close partnership with Cancer Research UK.

ECMCs play a leading role in speeding up the process of cancer drug development and the search for cancer biomarkers – molecules present in blood or tissue - that can be used to diagnose cancer, predict the aggressiveness of the disease, or show whether a drug will be effective in a specific patient and at what dose.

ECMCs work together as a network to combine their collective strengths and collaborate to drive new discoveries more effectively. 

The aims of the ECMCs are to:

  • Enhance the delivery of early phase trials by increasing capacity, safety and speed, to improve the success rates in developing new therapeutic modalities for patient benefit
  • Maximise therapeutic opportunities for patients by developing biomarkers, and molecular phenotyping patient samples, to identify sub-populations that differ in their susceptibility to cancer or response to treatment
  • Ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of international efforts to develop and test new treatments for cancer, built upon outstanding science and optimal trial design
  • Increase the attractiveness of the UK as a location for industry-sponsored/funded and collaborative experimental cancer medicine
  • Ensure effective joint working across the network and between Universities and Trusts
  • Promote patient and public involvement in experimental cancer medicine.

The fourteen NIHR/Cancer Research UK ECMCs are:

  • Barts and the London in partnership with Brighton
  • Birmingham
  • Cambridge
  • Imperial
  • Kings College London
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Oxford
  • Royal Marsden
  • Sheffield
  • Southampton
  • University College London.

ECMCs meet the costs of research infrastructure (via the Cancer Research UK element of funding to the University partner) and the costs of NHS infrastructure for research including NHS Support Costs (via the NIHR element of funding to the NHS partner). This funding provides vital infrastructure that is not readily supported through other early phase cancer trial funding in the UK.

Further Information
NIHR briefing document

Further information is available on the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre Network website.