The Royal Marsden

Celebrating a decade of pioneering research at The Centre for Molecular Pathology

We highlight 10 ways in which the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Centre for Molecular Pathology (CMP) has helped to transform cancer diagnosis and treatment since 2012.
Illustration of a doctor holding up an image of a lung in front of a patient, who is smiling

It's been 10 years since the NIHR Centre for Molecular Pathology (CMP) opened in Sutton, bringing together researchers from The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR), under one roof. 

The £18.2 million facility, which is dedicated to the research of personalised cancer treatment, was financed through capital funding awarded by the Department of Health to the National Institute for Health and Care Research specialist Biomedical Research Centre, the Wolfson Foundation and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

To mark this milestone, here are 10 ways in which the  NIHR CMP has transformed how we treat cancer.

1. The 100,000 Genomes Project

The Royal Marsden collected and decoded genomes from patients as part of this project, which sequenced 100,000 genomes from 85,000 people with cancer and rare diseases, helping to develop a genomic medicine service for the NHS and transform patient care.

2. Taking part in major trials

We played a crucial role in the Cancer Research UK Stratified Medicine programme and the National Lung Matrix trial, the largest clinical trial of precision medicine for non-small-cell lung cancer patients, both as a major recruiting site and one of the centres that carried out molecular profiling.

3. A genomics hub for London

As part of the North Thames Genomic Laboratory Hub – which supports the NHS’s Genomic Medicine Service – The Royal Marsden now undertakes the majority of genomic testing for cancer patients in northeast and west London.

4. Establishing partnerships

Working with pharmaceutical companies means our patients benefit from the most advanced technologies. Thanks to a new partnership with Guardant Health, our new in-house liquid biopsy testing facility will allow us to offer bespoke diagnostic testing to many more patients.

5. Diagnostics for millions

Using the NIHR CMP’s infrastructure and expertise has provided an integrated diagnostic service for haemato-oncology patients, both at The Royal Marsden and across a catchment area of 3.5 million people.

6. Better genomic sequencing

Thanks to a generous donation from the Denise Coates Foundation to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, we invested in state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology in order to make diagnostic sequencing more efficient and cost-effective than ever. In addition, our gene sequencing panels comprehensively detect all currently actionable cancer-related mutations.

7. An Integrated Pathology Unit

Funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and the ICR, the unit is a pioneer in the burgeoning field of digital pathology. It uses sophisticated computing tools and artificial intelligence to analyse tissue and learn crucial information about cancer.

8. A culture of collaboration

Working closely with oncology experts, we use innovative genomic testing to bring personalised treatments to patients sooner. Our large clinical trial portfolio and repertoire of genomic tests means we can profile cancers quickly and accurately. 

9. Childhood cancers studied

As part of the Cancer Research UK-funded Stratified Medicine Paediatrics programme, tumours were sequenced using DNA and RNA panels developed at The Royal Marsden, enabling researchers to learn more about genetic changes in children’s cancers. 

10. Pioneering liquid biopsies

Our development and application of circulating tumour DNA testing has resulted in improved outcomes for patients. The process, which tests blood samples for DNA shed by the tumour, is minimally invasive and can help detect and diagnose cancer as well as inform treatment plans.