MRes Experimental Medicine (Cancer) / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course description

Our MRes Experimental Medicine (Cancer) programme will give nurses, doctors, clinical researchers and clinical trials co-ordinators the skills needed to work in early phase clinical studies.

You will learn how to master experimental medicine with a focus on cancer through a combination of traditional teaching and hands-on learning, through spending a year as a member of the Experimental Cancer Medicine Team at The Christie while also taking four structured taught units.

The taught units will see you learn the details of designing and delivering Phase 1 clinical studies, understanding the pre-clinical data required before a clinical programme can commence, and how to optimise early clinical studies to provide evidence for progressing a promising drug into Phase II/III clinical testing.

Alongside the taught elements, you will be allocated to one or more clinical trials that are being conducted by The Christie Experimental Cancer Medicine team. You will have a named supervisor and be exposed to tasks required in the setup, delivery, interpretation and audit of a clinical study.

Nursing and physician students will be expected to participate in patient care, including new and follow-on patient clinics, treatment and care-giving episodes with patients. For clinical trial coordinators, no direct patient contact is envisaged and duties will involve clinical trial setup, protocol amendments, database setup, data entry, costing and billing for clinical research.

You will be able to choose two aspects of your direct clinical trial research experience to write up for your two research projects in a dissertation format. This will give you the skills and knowledge required to critically report medical, scientific and clinically related sciences for peer review.


The primary purpose of the MRes in Experimental Medicine (Cancer) is to provide you with the opportunity to work within a premier UK Phase 1 cancer clinical trials unit and, through a mix of taught and experiential learning, master the discipline of experimental medicine related to cancer.

Special features

Extensive practical experience

You will spend most of your time gaining hands-on experience through completion of two research projects within The Christie's Experimental Cancer Medicine Team.

Taught by experts in Experimental Medicine within dedicated research and clinical trials facilities

You will also have opportunities to interact with and learn from experimental medicine researchers within the Manchester Biomedical Research Centre and the Manchester Clinical Research Centre across a range of different fields and thereby broaden your knowledge and experience of experimental medicine.

Additional course information

Meet the course team

Dr Natalie Cook (MRes Cancer Pathway Lead)

Dr Natalie Cook is a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Experimental Cancer Medicine at the University and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Christie. She completed a PhD at Cambridge, investigating translational therapeutics and biomarker assay design in pancreatic cancer.

Professor Andrew Hughes

Professor Hughes is Chair of Experimental Cancer Medicine at the University and the former Strategic Director of the Experimental Cancer Medicine team at The Christie. He is a member of the research strategy group for Manchester Cancer Research Centre. He serves on the Biomarker evaluation review panel for CRUK grant applications. Professor Hughes was previously Global Vice-President for early clinical development at AstraZeneca, overseeing around 100 Phase 0/1/2 clinical studies. He was previously Global Vice-President for early phase clinical oncology, having been involved in over 200 early phase clinical studies.

Dr Louise Carter

Dr Louise Carter is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Experimental Cancer Medicine at The University of Manchester and an Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Christie. Her main areas of research are the development of early phase clinical trials of experimental cancer medicines and translational assay development.

Dr Matthew Krebs

Dr Matthew Krebs is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Experimental Cancer Medicine at the University and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Christie. He is Principal Investigator on a portfolio of phase 1 clinical trials and has research interests in clinical development of novel drugs for lung cancer and integration of biomarkers with experimental drug development.

Teaching and learning

Our course is structured around a 2:1 split between clinical-based research projects and taught elements respectively.

Taught course units will predominantly use lectures and workshops.

For the research projects, teaching and learning will take place through one-to-one mentoring from a member of the Experimental Cancer Medicine team.

The clinical and academic experience of contributors to this course will provide you with an exceptional teaching and learning experience.

Coursework and assessment

You will be assessed through oral presentations, single best answer exams, written reports and dissertation. For each research project, you will write a dissertation of 10,000 to 15,000 words. Examples of suitable practical projects include the following.

Research proposal

  • Compilation of a research proposal to research council/charity
  • Writing a protocol and trial costings for sponsor
  • Research and write a successful expression of interest selected by grant funder for full development

Publication-based/dissertation by publication

  • Writing a clinical study report
  • Authoring a peer-review journal review/original article

Service development/professional report/ report based dissertation

  • Public health report/outbreak report/health needs assessment/health impact assessment
  • Proposal for service development/organisational change
  • Audit/evaluate service delivery/policy
  • Implement recommended change from audit report

Adapted systematic review (qualitative data)

  • Compiling the platform of scientific evidence for a new drug indication from literature
  • Review of alternative research methodologies from literature

Full systematic review that includes data collection (quantitative data)

  • Referral patterns for Phase 1 patients Qualitative or quantitative empirical research
  • Design, conduct, analyse and report an experiment

Qualitative secondary data analysis/analysis of existing quantitative data

Compilation, mining and analysis of existing clinical data sets

Quantitative secondary data analysis/analysis of existing qualitative data/theoretical study/narrative review

  • Policy analysis or discourse analysis/content analysis
  • A critical review of policy using framework analysis

Course unit details

This course consists of four taught 15-credit units and two practical 60-credit research projects.

Students achieving 180 credits will be awarded the MRes; students may receive a PGDip in Experimental Medicine (Cancer) upon achievement of 120 credits. There is also an option for students to register for a PGCert and complete only the four taught units on a part-time basis for 60 credits.

The four taught units run as follows:

  • Research Methods (October)
  • Introduction to Experimental Medicine (November/December)
  • Assembling Pre-clinical and Early Clinical Development Strategies for a new Candidate Drug (February/March)
  • Assembling a Translational Medicine Strategy for an Anti-Cancer Drug (June/July)

See the course unit list for more information on each unit and project.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Laboratory Skills Unit MEDN66111 15 Mandatory
Assembling preclinical and translational medicine strategies for a new candidate drug MEDN66212 15 Mandatory
Early Clinical Cancer Drug Development MEDN66222 15 Mandatory
Research Project 1 MEDN66230 60 Mandatory
Research Project 2 MEDN66242 60 Mandatory
Introduction to Experimental Medicine MEDN69631 15 Mandatory
Research Methods MEDN69910 15 Mandatory


Teaching will take place within The Christie NHS Foundation Trust , the Manchester Clinical Research Facility and the University of Manchester Campus.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service .