Research themes

Our research strategy builds on the university’s recognised strengths and will leverage centres of excellence across the university. We will focus on a translational approach to healthcare research that is directly relevant to the cancers that most affect our local population. 


Our approach

Our research approach will be driven by data, including different types of research and experts from a diverse range of fields, with the focus being on problems relevant to our population.  We will work together to ensure that we address all aspects of cancer research from prevention to screening, diagnosis, drug discovery and treatment, follow-up, palliation and survival.

Our research themes

We will use a data-driven, problem-based approach toward a platform of multimodal cancer research and treatments, outlined in our cross-cutting, interrelated research themes. 

Cancer prevention and early diagnosis

Theme Lead: Professor Nicholas Latimer and Dr Caroline Mitchell

The research within this theme will describe and analyse the characteristics of Yorkshire populations and patients, and the cancers experienced there, to help identify factors that contribute to poor outcomes. The vision is that gaining a better understanding of Yorkshire’s cancer patients, will help to develop targeted interventions and screening programmes to improve survival, primarily through earlier diagnosis.

Digital health, big data, advanced diagnostic technologies and rethinking the delivery of cancer care

Theme Lead: Professor Jim Catto

Our research will integrate modern technology and digital health with re-envisaging the delivery of cancer care.  The vision for research within this theme is that digital healthcare information, artificial intelligence and more intelligent use of novel diagnostics in clinical pathways will increase the volume and safety of community-based oncology treatments.  We will use digital technology to inform risk profiles. 

The aim is that this will improve patient experience and save NHS costs.

Translational and precision cancer medicine

Theme Lead: Dr Munitta Muthana

Our research will integrate genomic profiling within the patient’s cancer journey, from the initial suspicion of cancer through clinical investigations, diagnosis and treatment. Genomic profiling can predict how cancers will grow and which treatments might work best for an individual.

We will reveal insights into the role and opportunities of modern genomics in cancer care, offer patients the opportunity to take part in the next generation of pharmaceutical studies and feed into discovery and molecular research in the University.

Improving the outcomes for cancer patients

Theme Leads: Professor Sarah Danson and Professor Ingunn Holen 

The vision is to discover new treatments or better ways of giving current treatments, as well as develop new methodology for matching treatment to patients’ individual cancers. This theme encompasses discovery science – identifying new molecules and mechanisms; therapeutic innovation – developing novel treatments and combinations; and precision oncology – improving patient selection to optimise therapeutic response.

Enhancing patient experience and voice

Theme Leads: Dr Catriona Mayland and Dr Stefania Vicari

Our research will focus on improving quality of life by developing a holistic approach across the whole cancer experience. This will span risk and prevention to diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, palliative and supportive care as well as bereavement support. By supporting empirical research, including studies of digital data, we will address different experiences in terms of the access to, and the provision of, services for cancer prevention and care. Inclusivity is a key driver of this theme, with a vision that has patients and those important to them at the centre of what we do.


The University's Vice President and Head of the Faculty of Health, Professor Ashley Blom, chairs the University of Sheffield Cancer Research Oversight Board which oversees the development of the cancer research strategy across the university, its alignment with the university strategy for research and innovation and the institution's utilisation of strategic funding. 

The Board comprises the Vice Presidents for all five of the University's faculties, alongside the Vice President for Research & Innovation, and the Deputy Vice President for Innovation.  The Board also includes the Commercial Director and Manager, the Head of Finance for the Faculty of Health and, from Research, Partnerships and Innovation, the Head of Faculty Research Growth for Health and the Research Growth Officer for cancer research, plus the Head of Campaign Management from Campaigns & Alumni Relations.  The academic lead for the university's cancer research strategy, Prof Jim Catto, is also a member as of November 2023. 

The Internal Review Panel is chaired by Prof Paul Hatton, Faculty Director of Research & Innovation for Health.  The Panel ensures that all applications submitted from the university to Yorkshire Cancer Research (and, in time, other cancer-research funders) are aligned with the cancer research strategies of either Yorkshire Cancer Research (for YCR More Life to Live) or the University of Sheffield (for YCR Sheffield Pioneers).  The Panel also provides feedback and ensures that applications submitted are of high quality.  The Internal Review Panel reports to the Cancer Research Oversight Board.  University of Sheffield staff can find the Terms of Reference of the Internal Review Panel here.  External applicants may contact to obtain a copy.

The Sheffield Cancer Research Executive is chaired by Prof Jim Catto, NIHR Research Professor, Professor of Urological Surgery, with the cancer research theme leads and operational support staff.  The Executive meets quarterly to facilitate the implementation of the university’s cancer research strategy across the institution.  The Executive reports to the Cancer Research Oversight Board.