The Multidisciplinary Discovery Research theme is focused on supporting collaborations that will elucidate previously uncharacterised disease processes in a spectrum of tumour types 


By exploiting key mechanisms in the establishment of disease we can provide the rational basis for the development of strategies to prevent, detect, diagnose and treat cancers. With a focus on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of cancer development, growth and spread, areas of interest include the development of tools and methodologies that allow the:


  • Visualisation and characterisation of biological processes in longitudinal studies of cancer progression – in both cellular model systems and in vivo models – to understand tumour heterogeneity and evolution
  • Understand the physical relationship between the tumour and its environment through the recapitulation of the tumour microenvironment, including the interplay with the immune system
  • Visualisation of therapies in vivo to understand mechanism of action, emergence of resistance and combination strategies without modifying the behaviour of the therapy itself
  • Development of technologies and tools that enable and facilitate discovery research into fundamental principles of cancer biology


The benefits of a cross disciplinary approach

In the last 20 years, some of the most significant advances in cancer research have been facilitated by innovations from the engineering and physical sciences. Our understanding of the genetic heterogeneity and evolution of cancer has only been possible through the invention of next generation sequencing. The innovations in sequencing chemistry have driven down the cost and speed of genome sequencing, making studies of clinically relevant questions possible on the scale required to generate meaningful results. The Convergence Science Centre leverages the wealth of engineering, physical science and cancer research expertise across Imperial and the ICR to ask novel questions and solve novel problems in cancer. We also seek to address existing problems that have not been answered through conventional approaches.  



Cancer organoids

An initial focus for this theme is the use and development of cancer organoids as 3D in vitro cancer models. Such models preserve the genetic, phenotypic and behavioural traits of their parent tumours and expand the repertoire of experimental approaches to understand cancer processes. These models are amenable to the development of new technologies and methodologies that will extend their utility to address important questions in cancer. The development of novel cancer organoid models will lead to the generation of complex datasets that require new mathematical and computational approaches for analysis. This will allow extraction of maximum value from these data, aiding interpretation, expanding usability and improving the accuracy of predictive modelling.

Visual representation of energy management problems

If you have any questions relating to the Multidisciplinary Discovery Research theme please contact Simon Pennell  (


Theme leads