Research Centres of Excellence

4 min read

Scientists at our dedicated UK Research Centres are working tirelessly to gain a deeper understanding of brain tumours to get closer to a cure

We establish partnerships at key UK universities and create Brain Tumour Research Centres of Excellence. We are investing in long-term research, building the ‘critical mass’ of expertise needed to accelerate the journey to find a cure. As the teams’ research progresses, they attract increased research investment from other sources, enabling game-changing collaborations take shape.

We are working to:

  • Discover more about the origins of high-grade brain tumours
  • Identify mutations in low-grade brain tumours that dangerously accelerate tumour growth
  • Repurpose existing drugs in order to increase options for targeting brain tumours in children and adults
  • Test ways to starve tumour cells of the energy they need to grow and expand
  • Find ways of delivering drugs across the blood-brain barrier to improve treatments
  • Help determine strategies to implement more personalised treatments for patients
  • Identify, assess and validate new therapeutics for high-grade childhood tumours 

For more details on this and all the research areas we are focusing on, please visit our Centres pages below.

Together we will find a cure.

The Institute of Cancer Research

Professor Chris Jones, and his team at the Institute of Cancer Research, located in Sutton, Surrey, are studying paediatric-type diffuse high-grade gliomas, a collection of brain tumours in children and young adults with an extremely poor clinical outcome. 

The new Centre of Excellence, announced in March 2023, will identify new treatments for high-grade glioma brain tumours occurring in children and young adults, and will include tumours that have been called brainstem glioma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, DIPG.

Professor Jones and his team will identify, assess, and validate new therapeutic targets, generating the laboratory data needed to support the launch of new clinical trials. Their work spans the gap between basic biology and clinical benefit for children and young adults with high grade glioma.

Find out more

University of Plymouth

Professor Oliver Hanemann leads multiple teams at the UK’s leading specialist research centre for low-grade brain tumours. Whilst low-grade brain tumours are usually slow-growing, some can start to grow more rapidly, transforming into high-grade or malignant brain tumours. All low-grade tumours, despite sometimes being called benign, can cause long-term and life-changing challenges for patients. By understanding the mechanisms in the development of low-grade brain tumours, the researchers can explore ways to halt or slow their growth.

The Plymouth Centre has developed a ‘fast-track’ process for screening new potentially therapeutic drugs using human brain tumour cell cultures. They have also developed an innovative blood test that can potentially be used to diagnose and monitor meningioma brain tumours, the most prevalent of all brain tumours, in future avoiding the need for repeated biopsies and scans.

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Queen Mary University of London

Professor Silvia Marino and her team, in collaboration with University College London, are studying glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumours, the most aggressive and most common primary high-grade tumour diagnosed in adults, as well as some rarer primarily childhood tumours such as choroid plexus.

The team are aiming to establish the difference between tumour stem cells, which help drive uncontrolled tumour growth, and normal brain stem cells, which stop dividing once they naturally evolve into specialised brain cells. With this knowledge, the team can identify new and/or existing drugs that can halt or slow down the rapid spread of these invasive types of brain tumour, whilst also potentially reducing the side effects of existing chemotherapy treatments.

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Imperial College

Our partnership with Imperial College encompasses both surgical and research teams across two West London locations – Charing Cross Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital. The team at Charing Cross is led by leading neurosurgeon, Mr Kevin O’Neill. Under his leadership, his team is exploring ways to develop new tools, techniques and procedures in order to continually improve and optimise the complex science of neurosurgery. 

The collaborative research team based at Hammersmith is led by Dr Nelofer Syed. Under her direction, they are scrutinising many aspects of brain tumour biology. They are studying how tumour cells get their energy, how existing drugs can be made more effective, how artificial intelligence can help provide greater insights into personalised treatments, and how therapeutic strategies around nutrition, including ketogenic diet, may enhance treatments. 

Retired Centres

University of Portsmouth

Our first Brain Tumour Research Centre was established at the University of Portsmouth in 2010 under the leadership of Professor Geoff Pilkington, now a Professor Emeritus having retired in 2019.

Following his retirement, the University of Portsmouth entered a new phase taking the research conducted there on to a new, wider neuroscience direction, taking forward the learnings.
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