This week marks a momentous occasion in the life of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. This week, the first research teams from the Institute move into their new home in the newest cancer research centre in town.
Covering over 25,000 square metres, the new Paterson Building has been constructed in partnership between the Christie NHS Trust, The University of Manchester and Cancer Research UK. It replaces the old Paterson Building which was badly damaged by the fire that started almost exactly six years ago, on the 26th of April 2017. Now, after years of planning and construction, this 10 storey building is ready to be filled with researchers, clinicians, support and administrative staff from the Manchester Institute who will be continuing and expanding their work to find new ways to detect and treat cancer.
The first groups to move in are led by two of our leukaemia specialists, clinician-scientists Prof Tim Somervaille and Dr Mark Williams. Back in September, we took them on a tour of the then-unfinished building to see the labs and offices taking shape. Now they are moving their teams and equipment into brand-new laboratory and office space, in a building which will host 300 researchers and 400 clinicians and administrative staff.
Prof Somervaille’s Leukaemia Biology group have an interest in basic and translational research related to leukaemia, and they are focused on understanding the basic mechanisms behind the disease, and using their findings to drive early phase clinical trials and see new treatments reach the clinic. Dr Williams’ leads the Leukaemia Immunology & Transplantation team who are working to improve a treatment called stem cell transplantation, which is currently the only cure for people with poor risk leukaemia.
Both groups are looking forward to the opportunities for collaborations which will come from being co-located with researchers from the Division of Cancer Sciences, as well as clinicians and clinical trials staff from the Christie Hospital. Dr Williams said: “Having different groups - who tackle different parts of immune-oncology and different aspects of the biology of blood cancer - all around us really is essential for our work.”
The arrival of the first researchers in the building is a major milestone for the many people who have worked to design and deliver this fantastic research centre . From the careful demolition of the old building, the digging of fresh foundations and basements to the installation of windows each weighing up to 600 kg, work has continued on the building despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 and disruptions to supply chains. Teams of Move Champions have been at work for months across the Institute to prepare labs and researchers for the move, while relocation specialists are currently hard at work managing the transport of delicate machinery and equipment from the Alderley Park site where the Institute has been based for over five years.
Over the next few weeks, the rest of our research groups will move into the new building and into space in the Oglesby Cancer Research Building, which faces the Paterson Building on the other side of Wilmslow Road. Along with our world-class core facilities and close proximity to one of the largest cancer hospitals in Europe, the building will also be home to an experimental radiotherapy programme, plus the Academy of Surgical Oncology – a surgical research team, something very few UK cancer centres possess.
This confluence of research teams and facilities on this very special site will support our aim to understand the fundamental basis of cancer and apply that knowledge to developing new treatment strategies, and ultimately help improve the lives of those with cancer.