The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Informatics Initiative has been short-listed for the Times Higher Research Project of the Year Award 2005.

The goal of the Initiative is to bring together data gained in every area of cancer science and medicine – from the molecule through to the largest population studies – into one fully integrated and accessible knowledge base.

It is hoped that by pulling all of these diverse sources of data together the researchers will open up new avenues for study. Making cancer research data available and accessible – in accordance with confidentiality and security standards – will streamline the translation of cancer research into better prevention, treatment and care.

Professor Richard Begent, Chairman of the NCRI Informatics Task Force, says: “This project offers us the chance to comprehensively map the terrain of cancer research. This will become increasingly important as growth in understanding of the disease accelerates which, in turn, will drive the discovery of new anti-cancer treatments.

The Initiative has drawn together expertise from different Universities across the UK with the purpose of addressing this key issue.

Jane Cope, Administrative Director of the NCRI, says: “We are enablers. We have brought together a consortium of funders to start building the research infrastructure of the future. Richard Begent’s team have already made inroads into this important task.”

Professor Anthony Finkelstein, Head of the UCL Department of Computer Science, who nominated the project for the award, says: “The NCRI Informatics Initiative exemplifies higher education in the UK. The project is strategic, imaginative, of high scientific value and will capture the imagination of scientific and public communities alike.”

The NCRI Informatics Initiative is currently supported by the Medical Research Council, Department of Health, Cancer Research UK, AstraZeneca, Wellcome Trust, The Institute of Cancer Research, Scottish Executive Health Department and Welsh Assembly Government.

Professor Alex Markham, Chairman of the NCRI, says: “Advances in scientific inquiry and modern technology are triggering the creation of huge amounts of new data, which is bursting out of the cancer research community in the UK – information that can range from the results of a clinical trial through to new information about how certain proteins interact in cancerous cells. This initiative is vital if we are to fully understand how all this information fits together.

“We must operate on a global basis and the Initiative has formed international links with similar programmes in the United States and Europe to ensure the development of a common, truly international and comprehensive cancer research tool.”


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  • The award will be presented on the 23 November.
  • The NCRI Informatics Initiative was established in 2003 and aims to maximise the impact of cancer research, science and medicine in the UK. It is composed of a Coordination Unit, a Task Force of community representatives and a High Level Steering committee representing stakeholder parties. For more information go to the Cancer Informatics website.
  • The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) was established in April 2001. It is a partnership between government, the voluntary sector and the private sector, with the primary mission of maximising patient benefit that accrues from cancer research in the UK through coordination of effort and joint planning towards an integrated national strategy for cancer research. For more information visit the NCRI website The NCRI consists of: The Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI); The Association for International Cancer Research; The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Breakthrough Breast Cancer; Breast Cancer Campaign; Cancer Research UK; Department of Health; Economic and Social Research Council; Leukaemia Research Fund; Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Macmillan Cancer Relief; Marie Curie Cancer Care; The Medical Research Council; The National Assembly for Wales; Northern Ireland Health and Personal Social Services Research & Development Office; Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation; Scottish Executive Health Department; Tenovus; Wales Office of Research and Development for Health & Social Care; Wellcome Trust and Yorkshire Cancer Research.
  • The US National Cancer Institute Centre for Bioinformatics (NCICB) provides biomedical informatics support and integration capabilities to the cancer research community. We work with both intramural and extramural groups to develop Initiative-Specific Modules. These modules are connected through intelligent interfaces, coordinated through an NCI Core Module and deployed through open source tools and systems. The NCICB also serves as a focal point for cancer research informatics planning worldwide. We work with research organizations, biomedical informatics groups and standards bodies to facilitate the identification and adoption of information exchange standards, thus connecting research information sources wherever they may reside. For more information visit the US National Cancer Institute Centre for Bioinformatics website.
  • The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) is a non-profit academic organisation that forms part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). The EBI is a centre for research and services in bioinformatics. The Institute manages databases of biological data including nucleic acid, protein sequences and macromolecular structures. For more information visit the European Bioinformatics Institute website.
  • UCL (University College London). Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. In the government’s most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 59 UCL departments achieved top ratings of 5* and 5, indicating research quality of international excellence. UCL is the current Sunday Times University of the Year and the fourth-ranked UK university in the league table of the top 500 world universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. UCL alumni include Mahatma Gandhi (Laws 1889, Indian political and spiritual leader); Jonathan Dimbleby (Philosophy 1969, writer and television presenter); Junichiro Koizumi(Economics 1969, Prime Minister of Japan); Lord Woolf (Laws 1954 – Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales), Alexander Graham Bell (Phonetics 1860s – inventor of the telephone), and members of the band Coldplay.