Pathology in cancer research

About Pathology

Pathology research is critical for many diseases, especially cancer – almost every cancer patient requires a histological or cytological test from pathology for initial diagnosis. And with the rapidly increasing need for innovative testing to assess prognosis and to support stratified medicine approaches, we’ve seen a revolution in approaches developed to analyse cells at the molecular level. So there’s real potential for the traditional field of cellular pathology to integrate molecular approaches and to grow as an academic discipline of cellular-molecular pathology. The NCRI undertook a review summarising the barriers to undertaking research in pathology and the recommendations to address them was published in 2009.

» Fostering the role of pathology in research (2009, PDF)

However, little improvement has occurred in the academic cellular pathology landscape since 2009. As a result, in 2015 the NCRI together with the ECMC Pathology Network Group set up the NCRI Cellular Molecular Pathology Initiative, known as CM-Path.

CM-Path: NCRI’s Cellular Molecular Pathology initiative

CM-Path aims to achieve the change needed to support academic cellular molecular pathology in the UK and make the resulting benefits available to the wider research community. CM-Path will be made up of four workstreams that were identified as priority areas in consultation with the research community:

  • Skills and Capacity
  • Clinical Trials
  • Discovery
  • Technology and Informatics

» Find out more about the CM-Path strategy here (2015, PDF)

CM-Path Members

Work of the CM-Path initiative will be overseen by an Executive Group, in order to maintain a strategic view and ensure delivery of its objectives. The initiative will bring experts from pathology and other fields together to support co-ordinated working with other organisations and stakeholders to propose, complement and capitalise on  initiatives from diverse funders including industry, academia, charities and the NHS.

CM-Path Chairperson: Dr Karin Oien

Karin-Oien-photoKarin is a Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Pathology, University of Glasgow. Karin was appointed as CM-Path Chairperson in February 2016.

Karin says ‘I’m excited to launch NCRI’s CM-Path initiative, which  will bring inspiring colleagues, funders and partner organisations together to make a real difference in pathology research.  Together, we’ll work to reinvigorate UK academic pathology by building back capacity and expertise, to drive and support innovation’.

» Find out more about Karin here (Internal webpage)

CM-Path Chair – Dr Karin Oien
Workstream 1 Co-Lead – Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez
Workstream 1 Co-Lead – Professor Louise Jones
Workstream 2 Lead – Dr Alex Freeman
Workstream 3 Lead – Professor Gareth Thomas
Workstream 4 Lead – Dr Stefan Dojcinov
RCPath Representative – Dr Bridget Wilkins
Pathological Society Representative – Professor Mark Arends
NCRI Representative – Dr Susan Kohlhaas
Funder Representative – Dr Rowena Sharpe (CRUK)
Funder Representative – Dr Angharad Kerr (Health and Social Care Research Wales)
Consumer – Mrs Imogen Cheese
Consumer – Dr Raffaella Tate

Workstream 1 Co-Leads

Professor Louise Jones is a Professor of Breast Pathology at Barts Cancer Institute and Clinical Lead for Molecular Pathology in the Genomics England 100.000 Genomes Project.

Louise Jones Photo

Louise says “CM-Path is an exciting, ambitious and very timely initiative. Molecular Pathology is now a reality and as Pathologists we need to embrace this new technology. Pathologists are central to the application of precision medicine, to translational research and to Biobanking in its widest sense. We need to ensure the next generation of Pathologists has the skills to lead Molecular Pathology, we need to up-skill our current workforce, and we need to enthuse undergraduates about Pathology as a discipline and a career. This is what I hope CM-Path will achieve, and I am thrilled to be part of it.”

Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez is the Chair and Professor of Molecular Pathology and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University, Belfast.

M Salto-Tellez Photo

Manuel says “The future of modern medicine will be dictated by technology advances, and by the development of genomic medicine. Molecular Pathology is at the heart of both. CM-Path has the opportunity of coordinating and integrating all the initiatives in molecular oncopathology in the UK, in basic, translational and clinical research, to allow our cancer patients to live longer lives and better lives. Together, we can improve the training of future generations of pathologists and scientists, foster the adoption of new technology, make the most of clinical samples for research purposes and integrate information in a way unexperienced to date. By doing so, we have the opportunity of bringing Pathology back to the centre of modern medicine.”

Workstream 1 Members

Dr Tomoko Iwata, University of Glasgow
Dr David Moore, University of Leicester
Dr Jackie James, Queen’s University Belfast
Professor Kikkeri Naresh, Imperial College London
Dr Caroline Young, University of Leeds
Dr Hayley Morris, University of Glasow
Dr Emily Shaw, University of Southampton
Dr Nick West, University of Leeds
Dr Maria Calaminici, Barts Cancer Institute
Professor Richard Byers, University of Manchester
Professor Mohammad Illyas, University of Nottingham
Dr Shirley Henderson, University of Oxford
Dr Nicki Cohen, King’s College London

Workstream 2 Lead

Dr Alex Freeman is Consultant Histopathologist at University College London.

Dr Alex Freeman

Alex talks about CM-Path: “I believe the CM-Path Initiative is a very good way of encouraging pathologists from across the UK to become more actively involved in clinical trials and I am very glad to be able to participate in this exciting and innovative venture. I firmly believe that pathology has a lot to offer in the development and running of clinical trials. This starts from the inception of a trial with input in to the potential utility of collecting blood or tissue to help evaluate the pathophysiological effects of the study on the patient, with advice regarding optimisation of tissue fixation, processing and storage protocols to allow robust and reproducible future molecular analysis and with assisting in the selection of biomarkers that will explore the molecular changes that have taken place in the tissues of patients who have completed the trial. It would be great if CM-Path was able to facilitate pathologist involvement in clinical trials across the UK in all aspects of translational and molecular research in a wide range of cancers and non-cancer-related chronic diseases.”


Workstream 2 Members

Dr Alastair Ironside, Barts Cancer Institute
Dr Susan Richman, University of Leeds
Dr Max Robinson, University of Newcastle
Dr Manuel Rodriguez-Justo, University College London Hospitals
Dr Abeer Shaaban, University Hospitals Birmingham
Dr Clare Verill, Oxford University Hospitals
Dr Newton Wong, University of Bristol
Dr Owen Driskell, NIHR West Midlands
Dr Gordon Hutchins, University of Leeds
Dr Sarah Bell, University of Glasgow
Dr Matt Ahearne, University of Leicester

Workstream 3 Lead

Gareth is the Chair of Experimental Pathology at the University of Southampton.

GJ Thomas Photo

Gareth speaks about the CM-Path initiative: ‘I have worked in clinical research for over two decades, and to see academic pathology struggle in recent years has been a great disappointment. Pathology has led the way in the understanding and classification of disease, and this is particularly important as we enter an age of personalised medicine that will be largely based on molecular analyses of tissues. I am very encouraged by the response to the CM-Path initiative, and really looking forward to working with this team of talented and enthusiastic pathologists. My hope is that CM-Path will contribute significantly to the reinvigoration of academic pathology and that we can rekindle a love of research that lies at the heart of successful pathology practice’


Workstream 3 Members

Professor Mark Arends, University of Edinburgh
Professor Valerie Speirs, University of Leeds
Professor Philip Sloan, University of Newcastle
Dr Maggie Cheang, Institute of Cancer Research London
Dr Scarlet Brockmoeller, University of Leeds
Dr Kate Hughes, University of Cambridge
Dr Philip Elliot, Royal London Hospital
Dr Eldo Verghese, University of Leeds
Dr Reuben Tooze, University of Leeds
Dr Keith Hunter, University of Sheffield
Dr Guy Betts, Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust
Professor Andy Hall, University of Newcastle
Dr Jane Hair, GGC Bio-repository, Glasgow

Workstream 4  Lead

Dr Stefan Dojcinov is the ‎Head of Cellular Pathology, University Hospital of Wales.

Dr S Dojcinov

Stefan says “Pathology has historically been the beating heart of medical research, translating into better understanding of diseases, accurate diagnosis and improved management. In most recent times, diagnostic requirements, particularly for cancer patients, are crossing boundaries between the traditional Pathology disciplines, bringing Cellular and Molecular Pathology intimately together. This provides patients with most precise diagnosis and prognostication, facilitating so called “Precision Medicine”, but also opens exciting horizons for translational research. Cellular-Molecular Pathology must recapture its historical initiative in research, which has over the years been somewhat lost. Introducing new technological developments will be essential, not only for up to date implementation of complex diagnostic requirements, but also for widening research opportunities. New means of information technology data capture, integration and analysis will be vital in this view, requiring close cooperation between medical practitioners, industry and regulatory bodies. The CM-Path project has gathered an excellent spectrum of skills and experience with a lot of enthusiasm to identify problems, provide solutions and reinvigorate research in this field and I am very excited to be part of it.

Workstream 4  Members

Dr Peter Hall, University of Edinburgh
Professor Simon Cross, University of Sheffield
Dr Philippe Taniere, University Hospitals Birmingham
Dr Darren Treanor, University of Leeds
Dr Philip Macklin, University of Oxford
Dr Ioannis Roxanis, Oxford University Hospitals
Professor Sarah Coupland, University of Liverpool
Dr Jayson Wang, St George’s Hospital London
Dr Rifat Hamoudi, University College London Hospitals
Dr Nischalan Pillay, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust
Dr Karwan Moutasim, University of Southampton
Dr Bethany Williams, University of Leeds

For any further information or to join the CM-Path mailing list, email the CM-Path programme manager at