Pancreatology MPhil//PhD/MD

Major code: PNMR/PNPR/PNMD

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).

Andrea Varro

Our Institute is one of the world leading providers in research areas for postgraduate students and it is real fun to be a postgraduate student here.

How long have you worked at the university?

25 years
Are you mainly involved in teaching/research (what’s the split?)

I am involved in both research and PGR (postgraduate research) provision. I am the Director of Postgraduate Studies in the Institute of Translational Medicine
Tell me more about this i.e. what’s your research about? Does your research take you anywhere interesting e.g. foreign countries, important sites/projects? Do you collaborate with anyone?  Has your research made a difference to anything/one? What’s been the impact? 

My research is about cancer development and progression. I am especially interested in the so-called stromal cells, a kind of helper cell that facilitates tumour development and promotes cancer progression by providing growth factors (nutrients) for cancer cells. We also are working on developing biomarkers from blood that helps to identify patients at risk from gastric cancer. I collaborate with scientists in Hungary and the USA.

Hopefully we will be able to develop a diagnostic test and also to contribute for targets for drug therapy in cancer.
I also teach on our MRes (Master in Research) on the Frontiers in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine, and Research Project modules. I mostly teach to small groups although I do inductions to postgraduate research lectures to big groups.

Our students go and do different things after finishing. Some end up in working as lecturers at University, others go to Industry, small Biotech companies, Teaching, Academic writing, Civil Service or go back and continue their professional jobs such as Medicine, Veterinary Science, etc.
Why should prospective students study a postgraduate qualification here?

Our Institute, The Institute of Translational Medicine is one of the word leading providers in the research areas mentioned above for postgraduate students and it is real fun to be a PGR student here.
What are the benefits?

Good science training and preparation for the job market (academia, industry, teaching, civil service, academic writing).
What does your department/subject, in particular, offer a prospective student?

We offer MRes, MD, MPhil and Phd in almost all areas of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology including drug safety, Children and Women's Health including perinatal care, Biostatistics, Gastroenterology including both humans and animals, Molecular and Clinical Cancer Medicine.