STFC Cancer Diagnosis Network+

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Physics


This proposal seeks to establish a multidisciplinary community to address challenges in the diagnosis of cancer, which is one of the most important societal and economic global challenges of this century. Cancer accounts for 1 in every 6 deaths worldwide, which makes it the second leading cause of death globally. In addition to the devastating impact of this disease on patients and their families, the total annual global economic cost of cancer is estimated to be approximately £1 trillion. The challenge will become even more prevalent in our ageing society, since the incidence of cancer rises significantly with age, whilst cellular repair mechanisms also become less effective. Reducing cancer mortality rates in our ageing global population could be achieved by earlier diagnosis and more accurate staging of disease.

The Network+ community will develop technologies and techniques that aim to improve patient quality of life, increase the chance of patient survival and reduce associated cancer services costs. The Network+ will focus on four themes of (1) early diagnosis, (2) precision and quantitative imaging, (3) multimodal techniques and (4) data science techniques applied to imaging and bioinformatics. The expertise developed through the core STFC science programmes that are particularly relevant to these topics are the development of high resolution and high sensitivity detectors, multispectral detectors, algorithms for image analysis and data mining techniques. The network+ will host multidisciplinary challenge-led workshops and provide funding for approximately 16 scoping studies, 5 to 10 proof of concept projects and 2 co-funded PhD studentships. It will also develop the research capacity of early career researchers through travel awards, discipline-hopping placements and training. In addition, position papers and fact sheets will be produced. The network will actively engage with external partners to build membership. The results from the funded projects will be disseminated to members by newsletters, a website and at an end of network conference, which will also be a forum to discuss potential future collaborative opportunities. The website will also be used to showcase events to all stakeholders.

Planned Impact

The STFC Cancer Diagnosis network+ will generate impact through a number of pathways:
1. Knowledge transfer: establishing a multi-disciplinary cancer community drawn from academics, hospitals and the healthcare industry who can engage in current and future global healthcare research challenges.
2. Technology development: developing novel and accessible technologies and techniques from STFC funded research for enhanced cancer diagnosis and staging of disease.
3. Skills development: the research and skills capacity of early career researchers will be enhanced by embedding them in cross-sector activities, improving the career progression of the next generation of innovators.
4. Economic competitiveness: new links with UK and global industrial healthcare partners will be fostered, leading to commercialisation of technologies and techniques for improved economic welfare.
5. Global health: responding to global cancer diagnosis challenges through the network and wider community by generation of novel ideas and techniques, leading to improved patient quality of life and reduced morality rates.
6. Policy development: position papers will identify key areas for further research in the short, medium and long term, which will improve dialogue with stakeholders and inform prioritisation of funding.
7. Public engagement:development of dissemination activities for imrpoved public awareness of the importance of STFC technology innovation in healthcare.
8. Academic community: immediate research outcomes to be reported in publications and conferences, leading to further funding of de-risked projects through UKRI, ODA and the Industry Strategy Fund.


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