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The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has announced a major investment in its Policy Research Units (PRUs). Researchers in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford will play a key role in a new Unit focusing on the early detection of cancer.

Associate Professor Brian Nicholson (Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences) will co-direct a new Policy Research Unit focusing on cancer awareness, screening, and early diagnosis. The unit aims to support and conduct research prioritised with the Department of Health and Social Care to aid patients, healthcare professionals and the NHS in enhancing early cancer detection. This collaborative initiative is steered by Brian Nicholson and Professor Yoryos Lyratzopoulos (UCL), in collaboration with experts from the Universities of Leicester, Surrey, and Cambridge. 

Commenting on the launch, Brian said: 

"The Policy Research Units are placed at the forefront of change, integrating ground-breaking research into actionable policy. This collaboration isn't just about discovery; it's about translating our findings into practices that can genuinely make a difference to patients in early cancer detection and care." 
The primary objective of the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Cancer Awareness, Screening, and Early Diagnosis is to provide policymakers with top-tier research findings. These are pivotal for the NHS's goal to diagnose 3 out of 4 people with cancer at an early stage by 2028. The unit’s approach is threefold: 

  • empowering individuals with knowledge for help-seeking and informed screening decisions, 
  • assisting professionals in assessing cancer risk and monitoring persistent symptoms, and 
  • guiding policymakers with evaluations of new screening and diagnostic methods. 

This multi-disciplinary collaboration, involving 14 national leaders, will work closely with key policymakers, ensuring that the research conducted remains relevant and actionable.  Dr Claire Friedemann Smith and Associate Professor Clare Bankhead will be leading the Oxford PRU team.

Read the full story on the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences website.