Our mission to make the discoveries that defeat cancer is more vital now than ever. For all the dramatic progress against the disease in recent decades, cancer now affects one in two people in the UK. Our 800-strong body of scientists and clinicians are working on a broad spectrum of research to offer more and better treatments to cancer patients - from understanding the biological causes of cancer through to designing and testing the latest cutting-edge therapies.

As well as being a world-class research institute, we are a college of the University of London and a charity. Together with our hospital partner, The Royal Marsden, we are considered to be in the top four cancer centres globally.

  • The ICR's track record of world-leading discovery stretches back to our foundation in 1909
  • Since 2005, we have discovered 20 cancer drug candidates, more than any other academic centre in the world
  • The ICR provides scientists and clinicians with world-class postgraduate education in cancer research and treatment

How Syncona is helping us to defeat cancer

ICR scientists have led the discovery and development of many targeted treatments that are helping more cancer patients live longer and with fewer side-effects. We now know that some cancers adapt to their environments within our bodies to side-step those drugs designed to halt their progress. 

Since 2012, Syncona has been generously supporting cutting-edge technologies and state-of-the-art laboratories at the ICR – most importantly, our new £75m Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery. Here we will launch the world’s first anti-evolution 'Darwinian' drug discovery programme, in which we will focus on understanding, anticipating and overcoming cancer evolution, and preventing drug resistance.

The Centre will pave the way for a new era of drug discovery, to help us stay one step ahead of the disease – so that cancer patients can live a good life with cancer, or even be cured.

Construction of the Centre has been completed and it will be fully-occupied by 300 ICR scientists and operational by the end of 2020. Within the building, the “Syncona Biology Unit” will be an important laboratory space where our biologists will identify targets within cancer cells against which drugs are most likely to be successful.

Syncona’s investment has enabled us to progress our plans for the building much faster than would otherwise have been possible, meaning that patients will benefit much more quickly.

Rob’s story

By the time Rob Lester was diagnosed with prostate cancer aged 55, it had spread to his bones. He hoped that he might survive for five years.

Thanks to abiraterone – a drug that the ICR discovered and developed – Rob’s been living well with cancer for over seven years. The treatment has given him a new lease of life and he’s now able to do things he didn’t do before, including joining a walking group.

Hear his story:


“My treatment has given me a new lease of life, and now every day is precious. That’s why we need to support the ICR’s life-changing research, to help more people live a good life with cancer”.  – Rob Lester


Next foundation partner

The Institute of Cancer Research