A new £28.5m research centre that will transform cancer treatment opens in Manchester this week. The University of Manchester building in Withington will be home to researchers from the Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC) - a partnership between The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Cancer Research UK and The University of Manchester.
The state-of-the-art facility, located opposite The Christie and the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, is set to pull in more world-class scientists to the city, boosting research and helping to get improved treatments to patients faster.
Chief Executive of The Christie, Roger Spencer, said: "This is the culmination of many years of work and collaboration between The Christie and our partners. The new centre willrevolutionise the way we prevent, diagnose and treat cancer worldwide, bringing together world-class research into cancer biology, drug discovery and clinical trials onto one site. This in turn will translate into better outcomes for our patients."
Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, Professor Nic Jones, said: "I am thrilled to see the building open as it looks absolutely fantastic.
"The new research centre will make a tremendous difference to the way cancer is treated in the future. The new facilities will allow us to progress personalised cancer treatments which will be the way forward for future generations diagnosed with the disease. We will know more about an individual patient's disease characteristics which will help to lead directly to better treatments and outcomes.
"The new centre will ensure we provide outstanding opportunities and a vibrant environment for researchers, clinicians and external partners to work together towards our vision through a single-site 'bench to bedside' approach.
"I've always been extremely proud to work in Manchester which has such a strong legacy in cancer research. The new centre will attract world class scientists and help to save thousands of lives both here and around the world."
Cancer remains one of the major healthcare challenges worldwide, in the UK and in the North West. In Greater Manchester alone, about 13,200 people are diagnosed with the disease every year - that's 36 people affected every day.
The three Manchester Cancer Research Centre partners have been working closely together since 2006 and jointly funded the construction of the new facility which will provide greater opportunities to work collaboratively under the same roof.
The flagship building provides more than 6,000m2 for expansion of research activity and has been designed to maximize the sharing of ideas and collaborations between scientists and clinicians. Cancer experts will be able to use a comprehensive array of new technologies and equipment within the new infrastructure. The building houses meeting rooms, laboratories, a lecture theatre and a café area for the public. It is set to provide space for around 250 staff.
The design also includes a rainwater harvesting system to collect rain runoff from roof areas, and to supply recycled water to the building.
Amber Irvine, aged 11, from Ashton-Under-Lyne, helped to dig the first piece of ground for the foundations of the new building in 2012.
Amber, who has three sisters, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in 2009.
It was initially thought Amber had a virus, but when she was eventually diagnosed with leukaemia doctors warned her mum Samantha that her daughter's blood count had been so low that had she not been admitted to hospital, she would have died within the next 24 hours.
Amber started an immediate course of chemotherapy treatment while her family was living in Lincolnshire, but they moved to the North West to be close to Samantha's mother shortly afterwards.
Despite Amber being repeatedly admitted to hospital with infections, and having to face losing her hair twice, she made a good recovery.
The Broadoak Primary School pupil still needs regular check-ups, but has been clear from cancer for several years now.
Mum Samantha Irvine said: "A cancer diagnosis is a huge shock for anyone, but is devastating for a child and their family.
"We are delighted that Amber became so involved with the new research centre in Manchester. Without research, Amber might not be here today.
"It is amazing to think back to her digging the first piece of earth a few years ago and now this centre has been built which will change so many people's lives."
Sharon Quennell, from Chadderton in Oldham was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 at the age of 36 after noticing a lump in her left breast.
The mum-of-one was diagnosed just two years after her mum, Audrey, had been diagnosed and successfully treated for the disease.
Sharon underwent surgery followed by 12 weeks of chemotherapy treatment at The Christie.
The 51-year-old, who works at North Manchester General Hospital, made a good recovery. This year she is celebrating 15 years in the clear from cancer.
She said: "Being involved in the opening of such a prestigious building is an honour.
"And it is very exciting that the new centre has been built in the North West. Our family knows more than anyone just how tough a cancer diagnosis can be as both my mum and I have heard those words. But research is key, and I'm keen to let people know that cancer doesn't need to be a death sentence as I am still here 15 years later."
Luke Garrattley, from Stretford, was diagnosed with a type of soft tissue sarcoma called 'rhabdomyosarcoma' when he was in his final year of primary school in 2009.
He underwent chemotherapy treatment which made him lose his hair, followed by six weeks of daily radiotherapy sessions which involved having to wear a mask over his face for 45 minutes each time.
Luke is now aged 17, fighting fit and pursuing a career in engineering.
He said: "It was a very tough year when I was diagnosed with cancer and extremely tough for the whole family.
"But I am now fit and well and getting on with life. It's a privilege to be involved in the opening of such an exciting new centre. I know that 20 or 30 years ago I might have faced a very different outcome and am only too aware of the importance of research."
An open day will be held in the new MCRC building on Saturday June 20. Members of the public are welcome to attend between 10am and 4pm.