Sichuan University (West China Hospital)-Oxford University Gastrointestinal Cancer Centre

Launched in May 2020, the University of Oxford and Sichuan University Huaxi joint Centre for Gastrointestinal Cancer seeks to develop an integrated cancer plan with a focus on gastrointestinal cancer, underpinned by high quality basic, translational and clinical cancer research. The intention of the international collaboration, led by Prof. David Kerr (Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford) and Prof. Li Yang (Sichuan University), is to develop one team based across two sites, with an operating and governance system that will drive the exchange of ideas, which is crucial to academic development and alleviating the burden that cancer places on societies across the world.

Through building a portfolio of multi-disciplinary teams drawing from both organizations the Centre will enable scientists and clinicians to learn from each other and apply their expertise for the benefit of cancer patients in both nations.

Centre Themes

Theme 1 – Colorectal Screening

The West China Hospital (WCH) has established a database of biological specimens from CRC patients (adenomas, early cancer, advanced cancer and adjacent normal tissues, blood, urine, etc.) and patient information database and have a fantastic endoscopic service and access to a very large symptomatic patient population. Oxford has expertise in establishing regional screening programmes, developing RNA based biomarker analysis and stratification. These expertises be combined to validate emerging biomarker-based detection and screening strategies with a view to establishing the infrastructure to develop a comprehensive screening program in Chengdu.

Theme 2 – Prognostic biomarkers for GI cancers

West China Hospital and Oxford University Hospital(OUH) treat a significant number of patients with GI cancer where it represents a significant health-economic burden.  Oxford and Sichuan Universities have expertise in a range of novel technology platforms, colorectal and gastric biology, RNA/DNA biomarkers, AI and digital pathology expertise in that can enable the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of cancer patients. Collaboration between researchers from both sites will enable the validation and clinical implementation of detection and treatment selection strategies.

Theme 3 – GI cancer Microenvironment – exploring stromal- epithelial interactions

Sichuan and Oxford Universities are home to researchers with expertise in a range of immune monitoring methods (single-cell sequencing, flow cytometry, multi-plex IF); metabolomic, epithelial-mesenchymal and vascular biology groups. Collaboration will enable the progression of our understanding of the role the microenvironment plays in disease progression in a range of cancer types including colorectal, gastro-oesophageal and pancreatic.

Theme 4 – GI Cancer Clinical Trial Programmes & Epigenetic Drug Target Identification

Oxford and Sichuan Universities have access to structural genomics, medicinal chemistry, target discovery platforms and a wide range of mouse models. A combined approach to exploit the enzymes involved in regulation of epigenesis as cancer drug targets will be undertaken

Development of a shared multidisciplinary clinical trials portfolio between WCH and OUH covering the spectrum of surgical, radiotherapeutic and medical interventions will enable the rapid translation of this knowledge for patient benefit.

For detailed project descriptions please see the West China Hospital – Oxford University project page here.

Oxford Researchers

Below are the research profiles of the Oxford University researchers who are contributing to these innovative and potentially highly impactful projects. Members can access the online project and data portal here.

David Kerr

David Kerr

Consultant Physician
Mark Middleton

Mark Middleton

Consultant Medical Oncologist
James East

James East

Consultant Gastroenterologist & Endoscopist
Francesco Boccalleto

Francesco Boccalleto

Principal Investigator
Rachel Kerr

Rachel Kerr

Medical Oncologist
David Church

David Church

Principal Investigator
Francesco Pezzella

Francesco Pezzella

Consultant Pathologist
Shivan Sivakumar

Shivan Sivakumar

Clinical Career Development Fellow
Eileen Parkes

Eileen Parkes

Clinical Career Development Fellow
Alistair Easton

Alistair Easton

Senior Clinical Researcher
Jan Bornschein

Jan Bornschein

Consultant Gastroenterologist
Shijie Cai

Shijie Cai

Senior Research Associate
Nick La Thangue

Nick La Thangue

Professor of Cancer Biology
Sir Walter Bodmer

Sir Walter Bodmer

Professor of Genetics

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