We've pulled together answers to some of the questions you might have about centres of excellence; what they are, what they do and how they'll work.

What is a centre of excellence?

Despite how it sounds, launching new Movember Centres of Excellence doesn’t mean we’ve built a new building. A centre of excellence is a ‘research hub’, a group of scientists based in existing universities and research institutes who have committed to working together for at least the next five years to help us fight prostate cancer. Training and development will be key aspects of these centres – we’re not just interested in supporting prostate cancer research now, but for years to come – and by supporting world-class training, we can help safeguard the future of prostate cancer research.

How is this different to collaborations between scientists in normal institutions?

While we know that scientists in the UK, and around the world for that matter, collaborate very well, there are often financial or logistical barriers that get in the way of them working together easily. Through centre of excellence funding, we’ll help to remove these barriers and support a network of researchers to work together to answer a common question.

Where are the Centres of Excellence?

One Movember Centre of Excellence is in London, and involves scientists and clinicians based at Imperial College London, University College London, the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital.

The other Centre of Excellence will see scientists and doctors at Queens University Belfast, the University of Manchester and the Christie NHS Foundation Trust working together on a coordinated research programme.

What kind of research will they be doing?

Both centres will be addressing key priority areas in our research strategy – to identify men at high risk of aggressive prostate cancer, to find a way to distinguish between aggressive and indolent disease and to discover new treatments for advanced prostate cancer. And both centres have the overall aim of eventually being able to deliver personalised treatment that takes into account the genetic and molecular profile of an individual and their tumour. However, they’ll come at these goals from quite different angles.


The Belfast-Manchester Centre of Excellence will be led by Professors David Waugh, Richard Marais, Noel Clarke and Joe O’Sullivan and will focus on improving the odds for men with advanced prostate cancer.  They’ll do this by identifying men at high risk of aggressive disease, and finding which patients will respond best to various treatment options. They’ll also work on refining new and existing treatments to improve how well they work for advanced prostate cancer, including cancer that has spread to the bones. 

In order to tackle these difficult questions, this centre is bringing in scientific expertise from outside the prostate cancer field to look at an existing problem in a new way.


The London Centre of Excellence will be led by Professor Johann de Bono and will focus on identifying the genetic basis of prostate cancer. A particular focus here will be the search for gene signatures that can be used to identify men at high risk of aggressive disease and to optimise treatment choices based on each man’s genetic information. The overall aim of this research is to deliver novel biomarkers that will transform prostate cancer medicine.

Why did you select these particular centres?

The Movember Centres of Excellence were selected after a rigorous international peer review process.

To qualify for centre of excellence funding, the lead scientists in the application had to have strong, international track records and their teams needed to demonstrate existing or planned cross-discipline collaborations between basic and clinical scientists, for example geneticists, computational biologists, pathologists, surgeons, oncologists, urologists, radiographers, statisticians and imaging experts.

In addition to this, the applicants had to submit a proposal for a five year research programme that would answer at least one of the big questions posed by our research strategy (link) and demonstrate how they would plan, carry out and evaluate their collaborative projects.

We consulted an international team of experts to help us decide which programmes to select as Centres of Excellence. Their comments can be read below.

  • What the experts had to say  

    The major strengths in this application are the applicants and the centres. This is a highly productive group and the centres are clearly excellent in every manner.

    The proposal has assembled an outstanding team of scientists with international recognition in the field of prostate cancer research. The goals of the group and of the proposal are well suited to the Centre of Excellence programme and there is high confidence that the team would be successful

    In brief, this is a world class application from an impressive multidisciplinary team of CIs involving multi-site and cross-institutional collaboration, addressing contemporary clinical and scientific research on prostate cancer.

What changes will the Centres of Excellence bring to men with prostate cancer?

Scientists and clinicians will be collaborating at both Movember Centres of Excellence to bring breakthroughs in the lab into the clinic as quickly as possible.  We expect that by establishing UK centres of excellence in prostate cancer research we will significantly boost the impact and progress of prostate cancer research and make a real life difference to men with prostate cancer.