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Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs) are a UK-wide network of specialist centres dedicated to advancing the development of new oncology treatments for adults and children.

What are the NIHR Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres?

Established in 2007, Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs) bring together world-leading researchers, clinicians, and healthcare professionals to foster collaboration and innovation in cancer research. Acting as an efficient and effective UK-wide network, they deliver pioneering, early-phase cancer trials.

Supported by research nurses, technicians, administrators and pharmacists, the ECMC Network increases the capacity, success rate, safety and speed of early-phase cancer research, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of international efforts to beat cancer.

The network speeds up the process of cancer drug development and the search for biomarkers to diagnose cancer, predict the aggressiveness of the disease, or show whether a drug will be effective.

Where are the ECMCs located?

The ECMC Network is made up of centres throughout the UK. The centres are associated with universities with capabilities in cancer research, and are linked to local NHS hospitals.

There are 17 ECMCs focused on the treatment of cancer in adults. The ECMC Paediatric Network co-ordinates paediatric activity across 12 centres.

The ECMC Adult Network:

  • Barts
  • Belfast
  • Birmingham
  • Cambridge
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Liverpool
  • Leicester
  • London - Imperial College London
  • London - Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden
  • London - King's Health Partners
  • London - University College London
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Oxford
  • Southampton

The ECMC Paediatric Network:

  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • Cardiff
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • London - Institute of Cancer Research
  • London - UCL/Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH)
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Southampton

How is the ECMC Network funded?

The ECMC Network is a partnership funded by:

  • NIHR
  • Cancer Research UK
  • the Little Princess Trust
  • the Chief Scientist's Office in Scotland
  • Health and Care Research Wales
  • Northern Ireland's HSC Public Health Agency

The NIHR contributes £21.6 million towards the current funding period of the ECMC scheme (2023-2028), part of a £47.5 million investment over 5 years.

What services does the ECMC Network provide?

The ECMC Network offers a range of services to research teams - regardless of whether the team is based in a life science organisation (commercial research), or in the NHS or academia (non-commercial research). They work with research teams to deliver early-phase, complex oncology clinical trials and studies including first-in-human, immunotherapy, liquid biopsy, precision medicine and innovative combination therapy models​. 

How does the ECMC Network support research?

The ECMC Network receives funding to support the delivery of early phase cancer studies.

The ECMC Network can:

  • offer expertise through access to world-leading cancer researchers and clinicians who can aid in preclinical validation, and the design and execution of clinical trials
  • foster collaboration between the life science industry, local universities, NHS trusts and with other ECMCs to accelerate the development of new treatments for cancer
  • provide state-of-the-art specialist research facilities run by expert teams to conduct your clinical trial
  • support the recruitment of patients of all ages, even for rare cancer types
  • provide insights and advice into relevant trial regulations and approvals

We now have a strong, functional network for early-phase clinical trial activity in the UK. We have worked hard to make the UK an attractive site for early phase clinical trials in childhood cancer, and the success of this is borne out by the excellent relationships that have been established with a number of drug companies
Dr Guy Makin, Paediatric Network Lead

ECMC support for the life sciences industry

Life science organisations and sponsors of commercial research should contact the NIHR industry team to discuss their requirements and explore which facility would be best suited to support them.

Contact the Industry team

Visit our ‘Offer to the Life Sciences Industry’ page to discover the full range of support available to commercial research sponsors developing and delivering research in the UK.