History of NCRI

How did the NCRI Partnership begin?

The UK has a long history of research into cancer, with the first specialist cancer research charity being set up as early as 1902. Over the years the number of people with cancer has grown, and the level of research activity has increased – government health departments, research councils, industry and a whole range of different charities now fund research into cancer.

With so many organisations working hard to make a difference, it is key to avoid duplication of effort and ensure there are no gaps, so that funding from charity donations, endowments and taxes is put to best use.

Research funders had already begun working together more closely in the 1990s, and a National Cancer Director for England was appointed within the Government in 1999. In 2000, the first NHS Cancer Plan was written, which proposed formalising these connections in a UK-wide partnership called the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI). At the same time, funds were put forward to run clinical research networks that support delivery of research through the NHS across the UK. This marked a real turning point for national coordination of cancer research.

► NHS Cancer Plan 2000 (PDF)

Establishing the NCRI Partnership

The NCRI was set up in 2001 with a mission to bring together all the key players in research in the UK to identify where research is most needed and where it is most likely to contribute to progress.

15 organisations formed the original NCRI Partnership, each contributing funding to support a small team. Our early work was to provide a forum to build connections between Partners, and to establish a database of cancer research funding to understand areas of strength and weakness in the UK.

In the years that followed, our role has grown and diversified to address some of the challenges that were identified, and to deliver activities that support the development of the research community. These activities include a thriving annual conference, clinical studies groups for researchers to collaborate on trial development, and a range of initiatives to boost activity within particular strands of research.

More than ten years on, our Partner organisations collectively spend more than £490m on cancer research each year. The need for coordination remains as strong as ever, and you can find details of our core activities and initiatives on this website.