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Early Cancer Institute


The Early Cancer Institute collaborates with a broad network of affiliates from multiple disciplines across the University of Cambridge. Many of our affiliates are active in the interdisciplinary research projects detailed here and a complete list of our affiliates can be found here Early Cancer Institute affiliates.

Professor Antonis Antoniou

Professor Antonis Antoniou leads a team at the Centre for Cancer Genetic Epidemiology (CCGE) to develop powerful, user-friendly, web-based prediction tools for patients and clinicians. For example, the CanRisk tool ( for breast cancer incorporates information on multiple genetic risk factors, behavioural, hormonal, reproductive, clinical and imaging risk factors. Endorsed for use by NICE, Public Health England and the American Cancer Society, CanRisk is already used several thousands of times daily in 128 countries, supporting women, doctors, and genetic counsellors in making decisions that are contributing towards lower cancer incidence and mortality, improved quality of life and reduced costs. His team collaborate with the Institute for Early Cancer to further improve CanRisk by: using advanced statistical modelling techniques; extending CanRisk to other cancers; and through studies on the routine implementation in clinical practice.

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Professor Sarah Bohndiek

Professor Sarah Bohndiek is a physicist with a group co-located on the Biomedical campus and in the Cavendish Laboratories. Her group create new imaging methods that utilise the entire imaging spectrum, enabling doctors to easily spot the signs of cancer that would be invisible through standard imaging methods such as endoscopy or ultrasound. In collaboration with clinicians at the Early Cancer Institute and the ACED clinic clinical trials are underway to test these methods to detecting the earliest signs of GI tract and breast cancer.

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Professor Andrew Flewitt

Professor Andrew Flewitt works on biological sensors which are fabricated using the processes that are more normally associated with manufacturing electronic devices.  These processes mean that they can create structures on silicon wafers at a very small length scale.  Specifically, Andrew is interested in making devices for measuring a small number of specific biological targets, such as antibodies or DNA strands, in a small device from a tiny quantity of a biological fluid, like blood, urine, sweat or tears.  The application of these devices is for 'point-of-care diagnostics' where users can deploy the testing device either in the home, a workplace or a GP surgery.  Ultimately, the hope is to develop cheap, straightforward tests which are much more likely to be used than expensive lab-based tests.  

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Dr Ljiljana Fruk

Dr. Ljiljana Fruk’s team in the Department of Chemical Engineering is using nanomaterials to increase the sensitivity of biosensors to specifically detect species related to cellular damage which includes cancer. These nanoparticles can be engineered entirely from organic molecules using the principles of self-assembly, something Nature does regularly to create larger structures from tiny molecules.   Self-assembled organic nanostructures are being explored as imaging contrast agents to help clinicians assess the health of tissues, predict the impact of therapies and get us closer to precision medicine.

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Dr Juliet Usher-Smith

Dr Juliet Usher Smith’s research focuses on how best to use information about cancer risk factors – such as an individual’s age, sex, ethnicity, weight, smoking status, family history and genes – within screening programmes. We know that the benefits and harms of screening for cancer are different for different people, and those at higher risk of cancer are more likely to benefit than those at lower risk. Targeting screening at those people who are at higher risk of cancer improves the efficiency of screening programmes. 

Juliet’s work includes developing and testing new mathematical models and innovative methods to estimate risk, exploring how people react to being told their risk of cancer and how that affects their behaviour and well-being, work to understand the views of the public on using different risk factors at different points in screening programmes, and modelling the expected health benefits and costs of screening with different approaches. Together the findings will help design future cancer screening programmes so that they make best use of information about people’s risk and reduce the number of deaths from cancer.

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Professor George Vassiliou

Professor George Vassiliou is Professor of Haematological Medicine and a Cancer Research UK Senior Fellow at the University of Cambridge. His team, based at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, studies how blood cancers develop and how to distinguish between alterations that are a natural consequence of ageing from those that are a sign of high risk for acute myeloid leukaemia and related blood cancers. This information can be used to detect these aggressive cancers early and will pave the way for new treatments.

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