CTC celebrates 21st anniversary
01 June 2018
Director Jonathan Ledermann reflects on 21 years of the Cancer Research UK and UCL Cancer Trials Centre:  

The Cancer Research UK and UCL Cancer Trials Centre (CTC) has come of age - born 21 years ago through the merger of the Cancer Research Campaign (now Cancer Research UK) trials group at King's College London and the Lung Cancer group at UCL, and the British National Lymphoma Investigation (BNLI - now Lymphoma Research Trust). 

I was appointed Director of the Unit 20 years ago, faced with the challenge of bringing these groups, each functioning in their own way, together to form a single unit. This took time, energy, patience and commitment from staff and our principal funders, Cancer Research UK. At the first 5-year review in 2002, we were still a small unit, but we had a clear strategy of bringing in new trials and expanding the scope of our work, and by 2007 we had become a thriving and much larger unit. This was undoubtedly aided by the formation of the NCRI and government funding to the NCRN to accelerate the launch of new studies and facilitate recruitment at sites through direct financial support. 

By 2012, the CTC was one of the largest and most successful Cancer Trials Units in the UK. Our portfolio was wide-ranging in both disease areas and types of study. We were active in early and late phase trials, screening studies and advanced therapy trials. We enrolled patients from many sites throughout the UK and international centres. 

Over the last few years, our international links have strengthened, and our funding streams have broadened. In addition to CRUK-funded studies we have grants from other charities, including Bloodwise, government agencies such as HTA and MRC, and industry. We now have over 100 staff working in the CTC, which is one of the departments within the UCL Cancer Institute. Our Chief Investigators are drawn from national and international institutions as well as UCL. There is a strong educational emphasis, providing local and national training, and a broader education role promoting clinical trials through UCL’s teaching courses. 

The success of the unit is largely due to a strong commitment to the philosophy of the unit and hard work from all groups of staff, many of whom have been part of the CTC for more than a decade. As we move forward, we will need to adapt to new challenges, both financial and scientific. Academic clinical trials remain a very important element in cancer research; the nature of trials is changing and our ability to adapt to change, particularly the integration of clinical trials with laboratory research will continue to ensure that the next decade will be both an exciting time and scientifically productive.

(Photo: CTC staff 2018 / Mary Hinkley) 
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