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Department of Oncology

The Department of Oncology is a large department with over 40 academic staff. We have recently been awarded prestigious Cancer Research UK Centre Status, in partnership with Yorkshire Cancer Research, to create the Sheffield Cancer Research Centre. Our strengths lie in our multidisciplinary portfolio of basic, clinical and translational research, all of which are integrated into a coherent programme which is aimed at better predicting, identifying and treating cancer. Research and teaching are undertaken by seven academic units and the department works closely with academic departments across the Faculty and University, notably Biomedical Sciences, the MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics and the Centre for Stem Cell Biology. Sixty percent of cancer research within the Faculty of Medicine was judged as internationally excellent in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise.

Our research

The major research strengths of the Department cover the following areas. Our research has been translated into a number of new treatments for patients with cancer.

Bone oncology research focuses on improving our understanding of the ‘bone metastatic niche’ and the fundamental interactions between cancer cells, bone cells and stem cells, as well as the clinical development of new bone targeted agents. Recent results from a £6 million international clinical trial (AZURE) have produced potentially practice-changing results in the management of early breast cancer.

Tumour microenvironment research forms a major national focus, with specialised expertise in the use of experimental models for better understanding the nature of the tumour microenvironment, the imaging of the tumour microvasculature and the development of biomarkers for use in clinical trials. Specifically, work focuses on the further development of tumour vascular disrupting agents (VDAs) and is investigating fundamental processes that are associated with tumour angiogenesis (blood vessel development), vascular function and tumour-mediated orchestration of protective anti- tumour immunity.

Genomic instability studies are undertaken within the Institute for Cancer Studieswhich receives core funding from Yorkshire Cancer Research. Current research concentrates on genetic instability


in cancer and the identification of key genes that determine the fate of tumour cells in response to chemo/radio-therapy. Translational research determines the influence of inherited alterations of damage response pathways on cancer risk and outcome, and the consequences of acquired alterations on tumour development and therapy.

The Human Nutrition Unit has an international reputation for basic and applied research relevant to understanding the role of nutrients in the prevention of disease and for healthy ageing. The Unit uses cell culture systems, nutritional genomics, dietary assessments and randomised controlled trials to study the role of diet in the prevention of cancers at various sites. Disease-focused and ageing-focused research is complemented by studies into socio- cultural determinants of food choices.

The Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics undertakes clinical and laboratory-based research on the cytogenetics and cell biology of uveal melanomas, eye movement, binocular vision and non- accidental injury in infants.

The Academic Unit of Supportive Care undertakes clinical trials of pain and other symptoms, needs assessment and service evaluations, narrative methods, methodological development of quality of life instruments, and information services.

Clinical studies in the Academic Unit of Surgical Oncology relate to the management of breast cancer in older women and how health-care professionals’ communication skills influence patients’ decision- making in choosing their breast cancer surgery and the management of breast cancer in older people.

The Academic Unit of Clinical Oncology comprises an experienced and flourishing multi disciplinary research team which to date has entered more than 10,000 patients into a broad range of nationally approved clinical trials. The Unit is located in purpose-built facilities in the Cancer Research Centre which hosts the joint Cancer Research UK and Department of Health-funded Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre. This undertakes dose-finding phase I studies through to post-marketing phase IV trials. Major areas of interest include phase III clinical trials, drug development programmes, radiotherapy developments, gestational trophoblastic disease, lung cancer biology and late-effects of treatment.

The Academic Unit of Urology is a lead centre for the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme ProtecT (Prostate testing for cancer and treatment)

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