Cancer Medicine MPhil/Phd/MD

Major code: CIMR/CIPR/CIMD

About us

The Department of Molecular and Clinical Cancer Medicine

The Department of Molecular and Clinical Cancer Medicine forms the mainstay of the new NWCR Centre University of Liverpool

Our principal research themes include basic cancer cell and molecular biology, translational research and tumour specific research in many areas including pancreatic, head and neck cancer, urological, breast, gastro-oesophageal, colorectal, gynaecological and lung cancers as well as paediatric cancers and haemato-oncology. The Department forms an important component of the North West Cancer Research Centre - University of Liverpool and is closely aligned with the Cancer Research UK Liverpool Cancer Trials Unit, the Cancer Research UK/NIHR Liverpool Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre ( and the NIHR Pancreas Biomedical Research Unit. In addition, the Department of Molecular and Clinical Cancer Medicine will soon be home to the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute.

The Research Assessment Exercise 2008 identified particular strengths within the Department (previously known as the School of Cancer Studies) including basic research in cytokinesis and DNA damage response, the molecular and cellular biology of lymphoid and myeloid leukaemias and the genetics of squamous cell carcinoma. Translational research developed around focussed themes such as novel biological therapeutics, and large multi-centre clinical trials in leukaemia and pancreatic cancer was also identified as a particular strength of the Department. Of the total research activity performed within the Department, 50% was deemed to be of world-leading or internationally excellent quality, and a further 50% internationally recognised.

The University has invested over £20million in cancer research which has been used for the creation of several new posts in the Department, and in the establishment of the University of Liverpool Cancer Research Centre (ULCRC) building. This commitment to cancer research has resulted in the launch of Liverpool Cancer Research UK Centre – an organisation that brings together scientists, clinicians and local stakeholders to lead and deliver cancer research of the highest quality and importance..

Research income itself now exceeds £25m and includes funding from Cancer Research UK, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Northwest Cancer Research Fund, Kay Kendal Leukaemia Fund, Wellcome Trust, MRC, NIHR, BBSRC and a number of industrial partners. The Department also enjoys participation within the European Funding Networks. 

Institute of Translational Medicine

The Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM) ( comprises the Departments of:

The overarching themes of Translational Medicine are:

  • Basic studies which define the biological effects of therapeutics in humans.
  • Non-human or non-clinical studies conducted with the intent to advance therapies to the clinic or develop principles for application of therapeutics to human disease.
  • Investigations in humans which define the biology of disease and provide the scientific foundation for the development of new or improved therapies for human disease.
  • Any clinical trial of a therapy that was initiated based on the above.
  • The biology-chemistry “bridge”.

Translational medicine is a two-way street from bedside to bench and back again and also from bench to bedside. This is because not all in vitro and in vivo models replicate human disease. It is only possible to translate high quality basic research. Therefore, it is vital that we have integration of clinical, whole animal and in vitro work. This must be underpinned by strong cellular, molecular and bioanalytical technologies alongside clinical networks. The integration of practical research with theoretical advances is being strengthened by advances in Computational and Systems Biology.

A primary aim of the Institute is to provide the necessary infrastructure, facilities, professional support and environment to foster collaborative research between basic science and clinical science postgraduates. The Institute of Translational Medicine will draw on the established expertise within each Department to foster, develop and enhance translational medicine work streams and projects throughout the Institute as a whole. The Institute has close links with the Institute of Learning and Teaching (ILT) and participates in both undergraduate and taught postgraduate teaching including CPDs.

The Institute runs a comprehensive Master in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine (MRes) programme with ten research strands (pathways) covering all it core areas.

  • Biology of Cancer
  • Biomedical Imaging and Biosensing
  • Biostatistics (with Health Informatics)
  • Cancer Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Physiology
  • Drug Safety
  • Medical Sciences
  • Molecular and Clinical Gastroenterology
  • Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology
  • Nanomedicine
  • Neuroscience
  • Stem Cells, Tissues and Disease
  • Women’s, Children’s and Perinatal Health

All departments in the Institute of Translational Medicine also offer a comprehensive range of MD, MPhil, and PhD programmes both full time and part time in all their core areas (see for detailed programme codes and how to apply under the individual departments).

Dr Syed Hussain

There is an exciting future ahead for academic medicine and related sciences at the University of Liverpool.

What do you consider a PG degree from your department has to offer and benefit a prospective student both within their academic discipline and outside? (For instance, what transferable skills are gained; what knowledge do you consider is applicable to other career paths)?

There is an exciting future ahead for academic medicine and related sciences at the University of Liverpool, with known strengths in clinical trials, translational research and drug safety studies and I am already complementing that by initiating new clinical and translational studies to enhance the portfolio further. This will no doubt provide local patients more choices and treatment opportunities on one hand but also provide prospective students various scientific and laboratory projects in parallel.  

Please describe your research interests and any research projects you are involved with.

My research and clinical interest fits in within the Institute of Translational Medicine. He will use the success of the Liverpool Pancreas BRU as a template to continue development of translational research programme in urological oncology. I have already secured funding for clinical trials and applications for funding for linked translational studies are in progress.   

What do you see as the significance and impact of your research within your own specialism and beyond (potentially to society at large)?  Do you consider your research to be ‘making a difference’ (improving lives, shaping policy, or expanding the boundaries of our knowledge and changing perceptions)? 

My early phase study exploring the role of concurrent chemo radiotherapy in advanced bladder cancer showed promising toxicity and efficacy results (Hussain et al, Annals of Oncology, 2001; Hussain et al British Journal of Cancer 2004). This work then expanded to a randomised phase III study, that was recently reported showing that chemo radiotherapy significantly improves local control compared to radiotherapy alone and is now considered the new standard of care for patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer. (James, Hussain, Hall et al NEJM April 19th 2012).

My regimen of split dose cisplatin with gemcitabine has moved in-patient cisplatin based chemotherapy to the out- patient setting for patients with bladder cancer at a local level, and many centres nationally are now using this regimen in advanced bladder cancer with success (BJC 2004). Phase II split dose cisplatin and gemcitabine trial in lung cancer has shown encouraging activity in an out-patient setting, and many centres in UK are now using this regimen routinely based on this work (Hussain et al Oncology reports 2008).

I am also working on biomarkers in cancer exploring their utility as predictive and prognostic tools.