Children's Cancer Research Unit (CCRU)

Unit head

On this page:



Our unit was founded in 1997 as the research-dedicated arm of the clinical Oncology Department, and now undertakes basic, clinical and translational cancer research with ~30 research and support staff. We carry out research into a number of cancer types, with a focus on the solid tumours of childhood and adolescence that have a poor patient prognosis; tumours such as, neuroblastoma, brain tumours and childhood sarcomas. As experimental models are not available for all cancer types, researchers within the unit also use models of more common cancers to discover critical mechanisms in tumour progression. These discoveries can then be applied to rarer childhood cancers.
Our research programmes aim to achieve the following:

  • Increase understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of childhood and other cancers.
  • Develop new cancer treatments using gene therapy and molecularly targeted approaches
  • Facilitate and promote research into childhood cancer through the provision of high quality clinical specimens, laboratory research platforms, and research expertise

The Unit has research programs in the following areas:

The Unit's Tumour Bank also includes the Pathology Support Laboratory, which provides specialized expertise in research-based tissue handling techniques.

To learn more about clinical research being undertaken within the Oncology Department, please visit the Oncology Department webpage.

Research achievements

  • Biospecimens Research and Tumour Banking Group: Developed strategies for analysing whole genome and gene activity data, allowing the capture of large amounts of relevant biological information about a cancer patient’s tumour and their genetic background.
  • Cancer Gene Therapy Group: Developed a Good Manufacturing Practice-compliant framework for producing gene-modified cells for patients enrolling in the upcoming Cancer Gene therapy trial.
  • Focal Adhesion Biology Group: Developed a new cross-disciplinary collaboration into focal adhesion signalling as a result of a two month collaborative research tour of Europe.
  • Molecular Oncology Group: Secured new funding from the CureCancer foundation to examine the role of the TPD52 protein in DNA repair.
  • Neuroblastoma Research Group: Discovered that some neuroblastoma tumors are able to acquire unlimited growth using a special mechanism called Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) which has the potential to determine how a tumour will behave and improve the treatment of neuroblastoma.

Research support (2011/12)

Postgraduate student scholarships and awards

Funding support can be found on the outline page under each of the individual research group listings, linked directly here: