Cancer Research UK

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Cancer Research UK
Founded4 February 2002 (2002-02-04)
TypeCharitable organisation
Registration no.
  • England and Wales: 1089464
  • Scotland: SC041666
  • Isle of Man: 1103
FocusCancer research
Health policy
  • 2 Redman Place London E20 1JQ
Coordinates51°32′33″N 0°00′43″W / 51.5426°N 0.0119°W / 51.5426; -0.0119
Key people
Michelle Mitchell (CEO)
Charles Swanton (Chief Clinician)
Ketan J. Patel (Chief Scientist)
£719 million (2022/23)[1]
4591 (2023)[1]
25,000 (2023)[1]
Formerly called
Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF)
The Cancer Research Campaign (CRC)

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is the world's largest independent cancer research organisation.[2][3] It is registered as a charity in the United Kingdom[1] and Isle of Man, and was formed on 4 February 2002 by the merger of The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.[4] Cancer Research UK conducts research using both its own staff and grant-funded researchers. It also provides information about cancer and runs campaigns aimed at raising awareness and influencing public policy.[5][6][7]

The organisation's work is almost entirely funded by the public. It raises money through donations, legacies, community fundraising, events, retail and corporate partnerships. Over 25,000 people are regular volunteers.[1]


The Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) was founded in 1902 as the Cancer Research Fund, changing its name to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in 1904. It grew over the next twenty years to become one of the world's leading cancer research charities.[8] Its executive committee was chaired by Sir William Church from its inception in 1902 until 1923.[9] Its flagship laboratories formerly at Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, and Clare Hall, Hertfordshire, and known as the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, are now part of the Francis Crick Institute.[2]

The British Empire Cancer Campaign (BECC) was founded in 1923, and initially drew a hostile response from ICRF and the Medical Research Council, who considered it a rival.[8][10] "The Campaign", as it was colloquially known, became a very successful and powerful grant-giving body. In 1970, the charity was renamed The Cancer Research Campaign (CRC).[10]

Incorporated on 20 November 2001,[11] the two organisations officially merged on 4 February 2002 to form Cancer Research UK, the largest independent cancer research organisation in the world (the largest, the National Cancer Institute, is funded by the US Government).[12][13] At the time of the merger, the ICRF had an annual income of £124m, while the CRC had an income of £101m.[12]

Based on article share during the period between January 2015 to August 2019, Nature listed Cancer Research UK in the top 150 of the Top 200 institutions in cancer research in the world.[14]

CRUK had an income of £718,793,138 and expenditure of £640,845,146 for the financial year ending in 31 March 2023.[15]


The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute.

In the financial year 2014/15, the charity spent £422.67 million on cancer research projects (67% of its total income for that year). The bulk of the remaining costs were spent on trading and fundraising costs with a small amount spent on information services, campaigning, advocacy, administration and other activities or was held in reserve.[1]

Around 40% of its research expenditure (27% of its total spending) is on basic laboratory research into the molecular basis of cancer .[16] The remainder supports research into over 100 specific cancer types, focusing on drug discovery and development; prevention, early detection and imaging; surgery and radiotherapy; and cancers where survival rates are still low, such as oesophageal, lung and pancreatic cancers.[17]

The charity funds the work of over 4,000 researchers, doctors and nurses throughout the UK, supports over 200 clinical trials and studies cancer and cancer risk in over a million people in the UK.[18]

Research institutes[edit]


Citizen-science projects[edit]

The charity participates in numerous citizen-science projects including:

  • Cell Slider – its first project set up in 2012. Samples of breast cancer tumours, taken from earlier studies, were analysed through a web-based application.
  • Play to Cure: Genes in Space – its first mobile game developed with Guerilla Tea, which originated as a prototype during a 48-hour game jam. Players plot routes to guide a spaceship in-game, which corresponds to analysis of genetic data.[24][25]
  • Reverse the Odds – a mobile game based upon 'Play to Cure: Genes in Space' but with greater accuracy, involved completing puzzles and answering questions on lung and bladder cancer samples.
  • The Impossible Line – a mobile puzzle game spotting genetic faults in breast cancer data, provided evidence that the game aspect lowered accuracy.
  • Trailblazer – a web-based application looking at tissue samples identifying the presence or absence of cancer cells.[26]

Research centres[edit]

The charity funds networks in seven locations across the UK, to drive collaborations between universities, NHS hospitals, and other research organisations. Centre status is awarded to locations performing the highest quality cancer research, to provide funds for equipment and training.[27] Centre status has been designated to:

Achievements and impact[edit]

Drugs developed by the organisation's scientists include:

Several of the organisation's scientists have won major prizes, including:

Other charitable activities[edit]

Information services[edit]

Through Cancer Health UK, a website written in Plain English, it provides information on cancer and cancer care, and a unique clinical trials database.[4] A team of nurses provides a confidential telephone service, the Cancer Chat forum provides a place for users to talk to others affected by cancer, and mobile cancer awareness units deliver health information to locations of high cancer incidence and mortality. It provides statistical information via the Cancer Stats section. It also provides publications for the public to order and download.

Cancer Research UK publishes a twice-monthly professional medical journal, the British Journal of Cancer.

Influencing public policy[edit]

The charity worked to bring about the smoking ban in England and continues to campaign for further action on smoking.[37] The charity lobbies for better screening programmes and advises on access to new cancer medicines.

Sources of funding[edit]

A Cancer Research UK charity shop in Bristol.

Income sources include:

  • Individual donations, regular giving and philanthropy, raising £191 million in 2019/20.[38]
  • Legacies from wills, raising £184 million in 2019/20.[38]
  • Royalties and grants from licensing its intellectual property, such as for the drug abiraterone, generating £118 million in 2019/20.[38]
  • Public participation fundraising events such as Race for Life, Stand Up to Cancer UK and a one off Race Against Cancer, raising £48 million in 2019/20.[38]
  • Around 600 charity shops selling new and donated second-hand goods,[39] generating £10 million profit in 2019/20.[38]

On 18 July 2012, it was announced that Cancer Research UK was to receive its largest single donation of £10 million from an anonymous donor. The money went towards the £100 million funding for the Francis Crick Institute in London.[40]

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, CRUK closed its shops and cancelled mass participation fundraising events. They predicted that this, coupled with economic uncertainty affecting people's ability or willingness to donate, would lead to a 30% fall in income that year and a reduction in income lasting at least 3 years.[41]


In June 2011, Cancer Research UK was one of several health charities (along with the British Heart Foundation, the Alzheimer's Society and Parkinson's UK) targeted by the animal rights organisation Animal Aid in a series of advertisements in British newspapers urging members of the public to stop giving donations to organisations that fund medical research involving animal experiments.[42][43]

In April 2017, the Information Commissioner's Office fined eleven charities that breached the Data Protection Act by misusing donors’ personal data. Cancer Research UK was fined £16,000.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Cancer Research UK, registered charity no. 1089464". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  2. ^ a b "Cancer charity mega-merger". BBC News. 11 December 2001.
  3. ^ "The Top 500 Charities". Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b Gaze, Mark N.; Wilson, Isobel M. (15 July 2002). Handbook of Community Cancer Care. Cambridge University Press. p. 272. ISBN 978-1-84110-001-2. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  5. ^ "Annual Report and Accounts" (PDF). 11 December 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 April 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  6. ^ [1] Report on 2008/9 research activities Archived 25 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ [2] Annual Review 2010/11 Archived 4 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b Austoker, Joan. A history of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, 1902-1986. Oxford University Press, 1988.
  9. ^ "Sir William Selby Church". Royal College of Physicians of London.
  10. ^ a b Cancer Research Campaign formerly British Empire Cancer Campaign Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, 1923-1981. Wellcome Library Archive. Retrieved 1 February 2011
  11. ^ "Cancer Research UK: overview". Companies House UK.GOV. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  12. ^ a b World's biggest cancer charity formed, The Guardian, 4 February 2002.
  13. ^ "Cancer Research UK". Nat. Cell Biol. 4 (3): E45. March 2002. doi:10.1038/ncb0302-e45. PMID 11875441.
  14. ^ "Top 200 institutions in cancer research | Nature Index 2020 Cancer". Nature. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  15. ^ "CANCER RESEARCH UK - Charity 1089464". Register of Charities, Charity Commission of England and Wales. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  16. ^ "Cancer Research UK: Our strategy 2009-2014". Archived from the original on 10 July 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  17. ^ "Annual Report and Accounts". 11 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Cancer Research UK: What we do" (PDF). 31 March 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 November 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  19. ^ "Welcome to the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute". University of Manchester. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Our institutes". Cancer Research UK. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  21. ^ "Reaarch Beacons: Cancer". University of Manchester. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  22. ^ Rafi, Imran (4 January 2006). An Introduction to the Use of Anticancer Drugs. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7506-8830-7. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  23. ^ "Project Press Release". UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation web site. 21 June 2010. Archived from the original on 24 June 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  24. ^ Coburn, Cassandra (2014). "Play to Cure: Genes in Space". The Lancet Oncology. 15 (7). Elsevier BV: 688. doi:10.1016/s1470-2045(14)70259-1. ISSN 1470-2045.
  25. ^ Kelland, Kate (4 February 2014). "Citizens seek cancer cure with 'Genes in Space' smartphone game". Reuters. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  26. ^ "The projects". Cancer Research UK. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  27. ^ "Our Research Centres". Cancer Research UK. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  28. ^ Lucy Holmes (26 August 2015). "Our milestones: Cisplatin – the story of a platinum-selling life-saver – Cancer Research UK – Science blog". Chemico-Biological Interactions. 5 (6): 415–24. doi:10.1016/0009-2797(72)90078-6. PMID 4652593. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  29. ^ Scowcroft H (21 September 2011). "Where did abiraterone come from?". Science Update Blog. 38 (13): 2463–71. Archived from the original on 25 September 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  30. ^ "Temozolomide: the brain tumour superstar". Cancer Research UK. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  31. ^ "Rucaparib: targeting DNA repair and a patient's perspective". Cancer Research UK. 21 July 2017. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  32. ^ "Tamoxifen – the start of something big". Cancer Research UK – Science blog. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  33. ^ Broad, William J. (7 October 2015). "Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar for DNA Studies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  34. ^ Staff (7 October 2015). "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 – DNA repair – providing chemical stability for life" (PDF). Nobel Prize. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  35. ^ The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2001.
  36. ^ Kathy Weston (5 October 2015). "Counting lumps in the lawn: a look back at the 1975 Nobel Prize – Cancer Research UK – Science blog". Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  37. ^ "Chief medic considered quitting". BBC News. 24 November 2005. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  38. ^ a b c d e "How we spend your money". 13 July 2020.
  39. ^ "Ways to shop". 26 October 2016.
  40. ^ "Cancer Research UK is handed £10m". Cambridge News. 18 July 1012.
  41. ^ "Michelle Mitchell: 'Cuts to UK cancer research could have a huge impact on patients'". 21 July 2020.
  42. ^ Wright, Oliver (21 June 2011). "Animal rights group declares war on leading health charities". The Independent. London. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  43. ^ "Charities are attacked over experiments". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 20 June 2011.
  44. ^ "ICO fines eleven more charities". ICO. 5 April 2017. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2021.

External links[edit]