Pathology services

Pathology at The Royal Marsden is performed by a range of laboratories located at both the Chelsea and Sutton hospitals.

Staff member using machine in biochemistry laboratory

Our laboratories inform clinical decision making to other NHS Trusts and networks and to the independent sector. We also provide clinical support to research trials within the public and independent healthcare sectors.

Core Pathology Laboratories:

Specialist Pathology Laboratories:

Cellular Pathology

The department is an international centre of excellence and offers many of its services to external clients.

This department is based at the Trust's Chelsea site comprising of Histopathology and non-gynae cytopathology. 

We have particular consultant expertise in genito-urinary, gynaecological malignancies, haematological malignancies and soft tissue sarcomas. We also collaborate and support numerous research projects with the Institute of Cancer Research, via our dedicated translational laboratory.

Team:

  • Dr Ash Nerurkar, Laboratory Director/Head of Department, Histopathology
  • Glenn Noel-Storr, Cellular Pathology Services Manager

Contact details

Enquiries for these should be made to the Cellular Pathology Service Manager, Mr Glenn Noel-Storr, on 020 7808 2632.

Blood Sciences

The department offers full blood count, coagulation, routine and specialist biochemistry testing 24 hours per day, seven days per week for the Sutton and Chelsea sites. The specialist Biochemistry service is based at Sutton providing specialist protein analysis. The Blood transfusion department issues and manages blood products across the Trust. The department manages point of care testing in the Trust and includes a smaller laboratory on the Cavendish square site for routine biochemistry and haematology tests.

The department strives to provide an urgent turnaround time for the majority of investigations. We are constantly improving our service through the introduction of new instrumentation and technologies, implementing improved processes and introducing new tests. The department collaborates across the Trust and frequently with other Pathology departments. The aim of the department is to provide the best service possible for our colleagues within the Trust and the patients under their care.

Team:

  • Dr Robyn Shea, Consultant Clinical Scientist, Director of Blood Sciences
  • Stephen Wilkins, Blood Sciences Service Manager

Microbiology

The Microbiology department has become increasingly high profile following the COVID-19 pandemic, taking on all patient and staff COVID-19 PCR testing. It works closely with the Infection Prevention and Control Team to monitor hospital-acquired infections, such as MRSA, C. difficile and antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’.

The department is based at the Sutton site in their new laboratory facility, playing a pivotal role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with infection by offering a comprehensive service encompassing bacteriology, serology, mycology, parasitology and molecular diagnostics, and by identifying the best treatment options for infection for Royal Marsden patients who may be particularly susceptible to infectious disease. The department also forms part of the multi-disciplinary haemato-oncology transplant team conducting pre- and post-transplant virology and immunity testing.

There is a 24-hour service covering emergency and urgent work outside of normal hours.

Team:

  • Dr Unell Riley, Consultant Microbiologist and Laboratory Director
  • Gail Gardner, Microbiology Manager
Hamilton machine in genomics laboratory in Centre for Molecular Pathology

Specialist pathology teams

Our specialist pathology teams comprise of clinical genomics, immunophenotyping, haematopathology and cellular therapies. They are located in Sutton and offer a variety of clinical diagnostics and other services to NHS, private and research clients, both in the UK and overseas.

Our teams offer services for solid tumour analysis, haematological malignancies and genetic abnormality associated with malignancy as independent tests, as well as working together as a part of a multi-disciplinary team of highly skilled scientists to produce comprehensive and consolidated diagnostics reports, including the provision of integrated reporting as part of the Specialist Integrated Haematological Malignancies Diagnostic Service (SIHMDS). The Cellular Therapies laboratory is an integral part of the Trust’s transplant and cellular therapy programme. All our laboratories are accredited to the appropriate BSI EN ISO 15189:2012, JACIE and HTA standards.

Clinical Genomics

We provide an extensive repertoire of genomic testing across cutting edge technology, resulting in accurate profiling of solid tumours and haematological malignancies, directing novel treatment strategies, personalised to the patient.

As part of The North Thames Genomic Laboratory Hub (GLH) we deliver consolidated somatic testing for cancer, whilst Great Ormond Street Hospital offers specialist rare and inherited genetic testing. The collaboration is led by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and includes laboratories at Barts Health, University College Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Imperial College Hospital and The Royal Marsden.

Working closely with experts in oncology at The Royal Marsden and across the North Thames Genomic Laboratory Hub, we can bring novel testing to patients sooner, directing treatment strategies personalised to the patient. Our innovative genomic practice has led to successful collaborations in new clinical trials, as well as successful partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, bringing novel testing to patients sooner. We have experience in delivering large national projects, such as 100,000 Genomes Project and programmes supported by Cancer Research UK and the Institute of Cancer Research, whilst leading in genomic profiling of cancer patients.

Our specialised laboratories use both molecular and cytogenetic techniques to provide rapid and accurate profiling of solid tumours and haematological malignancies.

For further information please see our Clinical Genomics Service specification, which can be found on our Clinical Genomics page.

Team:

  • Dr Michael Hubank, Scientific Director (Clinical Genomics)
  • Dr Mikel Valganon, Head of Clinical Genomics
  • Dr Lisa Thompson, Head of Commercial Development
  • Emma Poyastro-Pearson, Operations Manager, Molecular Diagnostics
  • Elisa Garimberti, Operations Manager, Cytogenetics

Specialist Integrated Haematological Malignancy Diagnostic Service (SIHMDS)

State-of-the-art technology and world-class expertise combine to provide The Royal Marsden's Specialist Integrated Haematological Malignancies Diagnostic Service, based in Sutton.

Composed of our Immunophenotyping, Histopathology and Genomics laboratories, the service provides a high-quality fully compliant service for the diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of haematological malignancies and other cancers.

This comprehensive service aims to provide targeted, cost-effective and timely diagnostic results that improve patient outcomes.

  • Dr Dima El-Sharkawi, Clinical Lead, SIHMDS and Consultant Haematologist
  • Alison Morilla, SIHMDS Service Manager
  • Emma Arton, Business Administrator

For further information please see our SIHMDS Service specification, which can be found on our SIHMDS page.

Haematopathology

We provide a haematopathology consultative service, which offers a complete diagnostic service for haematopathology samples, including an extensive array of immunohistochemical antibodies, tinctorial stains and companion diagnostics for lung samples. Including: 

  • PDL1 for lung
  • Haematopoietic tumour diagnosis
  • Second opinion testing

Team:

  • Dr Andrew Wotherspoon, Consultant Histopathologist and Clinical Lead. 
  • Natalie Peters, Haematopathology Manager

Contact details

SIHDMS enquiries should be made to Natalie Peters, Haematopathology Manager, on 0208 915 6549.

Immunophenotyping

Currently one of the largest leukaemia diagnostic services in the country and provides critical diagnostic testing to patients from all over the UK as well as internationally.

The Immunophenotyping laboratory is dedicated to the diagnosis of haematological malignancies and providing support for The Royal Marsden’s large bone marrow transplant programme. State-of-the-art flow cytometry instrumentation, software and multicolour antibody panels are used to deliver rapid and accurate diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of haematological malignancies. The laboratory is one of the first in the UK to have flow cytometry analysers capable of looking at up to 15 characteristics in each cell giving more accurate identification of abnormal cell population, which is critical to target the correct treatment, giving patients the best chance of survival.

  • Dr David Taussig, Immunophenotyping Clinical Lead
  • Alan Dunlop, Head of Immunophenotyping
  • Lynnsay Fuller, Immunophenotyping Manager

Cellular Therapy Laboratory

The work performed by the cellular therapy laboratory is central to the provision and improvement of life saving transplants and treatments.

The team of specialist biomedical scientists offers expertise in GMP, quality and regulatory matters to provide a comprehensive service to the adult, paediatric and teenage transplant units based at the Sutton site, as well as supporting adult transplants on the Chelsea site. The lab works out of a newly built clean room and performs testing and processing of autologous and allogeneic bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells. Specialist storage and infusion of stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and donor lymphocytes is undertaken, with round-the-clock cover of the cell storage cryogenic facility. Although manufacturing of products such as CAR-Ts is not offered at present, the laboratory receives and stores advanced cellular therapy products to facilitate NHS and private patient treatments, and as part of cellular therapy clinical trials to aid in the progression of research.

The laboratory, along with the cellular therapy programme is accredited by the Joint Accreditation Committee for ISCT and EBMT (JACIE) and licensed by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA).

  • Dr Janet Wells, Head of Cellular Therapy Laboratory
Glove hands handling blood samples in haematology laboratory

Laboratory standards

All our laboratories are accredited to international quality standards and meet national legislative requirements. For the diagnostic laboratories this is BSI EN ISO 15189:2012 and for the Cellular Therapy Laboratory the JACIE standards. The Cellular Therapy Laboratory is also licensed by the Human Tissue Act and the Blood Transfusion service works according to the Blood Safety & Quality Regulations.

All our diagnostic laboratories are housed in containment level 2 facilities and the Microbiology department also has a containment level 3 room.

Pathology Management Team 

  • Dr Angela George, Clinical Director (Cancer) and Consultant in Cancer Genetics
  • Sue Alexander, Head of Core Pathology
  • Alison Morilla, Head of Specialist Pathology & Pathology Transformation
  • Helen Phillips, Pathology Quality Manager