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World-class scientists to lead Cambridge research centre

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by Cancer Research UK | News

18 October 2005

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CANCER Research UK and the University of Cambridge have recruited world-renowned scientists Professors Bruce Ponder and Fiona Watt to lead their new £45 million state of the art research institute.

Prof Ponder, who is best known for his work to identify high risk cancer genes, will be responsible for more than 300 scientists as director of the new Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute when it opens next year. The new building is based on the Cambridge Bio-Medical Campus next to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Prof Ponder comes to the post after nearly ten years as Professor of Oncology at the University of Cambridge and holds a Cancer Research UK Gibb fellowship, one of the most prestigious life fellowships that a UK cancer scientist can be awarded.

He says: “This is a unique opportunity to focus the world class scientific resources of Cambridge on solving the problems of cancer patients. “This will enable me to combine my clinical background and my laboratory experience to build much stronger links between scientific research and the clinic.

“It’s fantastic to be able to start from scratch and bring together scientists of international quality for the benefit of patients both locally and world-wide.”

Prof Ponder will be joined by Professor Fiona Watt who has been appointed Deputy Director of the new institute. Prof Watt is internationally known for her work on epithelial stem cells, the cells from which most cancers are thought to arise.

Prof Watt joins the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute after many years at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute. Her research in Cambridge will focus on understanding much more about how stem cells work and how they link with the development of cancer. As Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Genetics, she will be actively involved in the University’s new stem cell initiatives.

Professor Patrick Sissons, Regius Professor of Physic Elect at the University of Cambridge, says: “This is a unique collaboration bringing together Cancer Research UK, the Department of Oncology in the University School of Clinical Medicine, and Cancer Services in Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge’s University Teaching Hospital – all linked on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, to enable research to be translated into clinical practice.”

Malcolm Stamp, Addenbrooke’s Chief Executive, says: “This is an exciting joint venture, which is set to make Cambridge the main European focus for research into the treatment of cancer. The project will be a major step forward in providing facilities for clinical and research work to translate directly into new therapies, which should benefit cancer patients not only at Addenbrooke’s, but worldwide.”

Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, Prof Alex Markham, says: “It gives me great pleasure to announce these two excellent appointments. “Bruce Ponder’s pioneering research on the inherited risk of breast cancer has earned him a worldwide reputation as a leader in the field both in the clinic and the laboratory.

“His wealth of experience makes him the ideal person to drive forward cutting edge plans for translational research which will see new cancer therapies reach clinical trials for the benefit of patients across the globe. “I’m delighted that Fiona Watt is joining the new institute. Her research into the links between stem cells and cancer offers real promise for new treatments.”

For media enquiries contact Steve Palmer in the press office on 020 7061 8312 or, out of hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264059.

The full name of the centre is the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute.

Cancer Research UK is providing 33 per cent of the total construction costs for this project, the remainder being provided by Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, the University of Cambridge and an anonymous donor. The £45 million building is the largest single construction project ever to be managed by the University of Cambridge Estate Management and Building Service (EMBS). The 14,000 square metre building was designed by renowned research facility architects Anshen-Dyer, and the main contractor was Laing O’Rourke. The building is currently being fitted out, for occupation in Spring 2006.