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Centre for Evolution and Cancer

One in three of us will have a diagnosis of cancer at some point in our lives, and one in four of us will die from the disease. So why is cancer so common, and why is the disease so often resistant to treatment? It is to answer fundamental questions about cancer such as these that The Institute of Cancer Research has set up its new Centre for Evolution and Cancer, under the leadership of Professor Mel Greaves.

Professor Mel Greaves is head of the ICR's new Centre for Evolution and Cancer
Professor Greaves is a pioneer of a new understanding of cancer as a disease which evolves over time.

We have long appreciated that one of the reasons cancer is so hard to treat is that there are many different types of the disease with a wide variety of genetic causes. But the ICR’s Centre for Evolution and Cancer will take this a stage further, by exploring how cancers diversify and evolve – including how cancer cells can gain a selective advantage by becoming resistant to treatment. The centre’s work will be key to discovering new treatment strategies that can avoid or overcome drug resistance.

The ICR forms Europe’s largest comprehensive cancer centre with The Royal Marsden and is the ideal location for the new centre – able to vigorously pursue both the basic evolutionary biology of cancer and its translation into clinical benefit.

But to make a real and sustained impact on its key research questions, the centre needs a critical mass of recognised expertise in the field as well as the opportunity to train the upcoming generation.

We are therefore looking to the generosity of our donors to help pump-prime the establishment of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer by funding the brightest minds in the field to set up new research teams, and to provide studentships and fellowships for the development of new talent.

If you would like to support the Centre for Evolution and Cancer, please contact Thomas Bland, Deputy Director of Development (Trusts and Corporates), by phone on 020 8722 4200 or by email at