The CRUK Accelerator Awards are infrastructure awards awarded by CRUK that fund cross-institutional teams to produce tools, platforms and resources which will transform the research landscape. These may include:

  • Producing datasets, tissue banks, cell lines or models
  • Developing methods, protocols, software and standards
  • Training, skills and knowledge sharing

Imperial College London is currently participating in 2 Accelerator awards which may be useful for some research projects

National Cancer Imaging Translational Accelerator (NCITA)

body scan imageThe NCITA initiative, awarded in 2018, will receive up to £10 million over 5 years and is led by Prof Shonit Punwani, Prof James O’Connor, Prof Eric Aboagye, Prof Geoff Higgins, Prof Evis Sala, Prof Dow Mu Koh, Prof Tony Ng, Prof Hing Leung and Prof Ruth Plummer, with up to 49 co-investigators supporting the NCITA initiative.

This unique UK infrastructure provides clinical researchers across the UK with open access to world-class clinical imaging facilities and expertise, as well a repository data management service, artificial intelligence (AI) tools and ongoing training opportunities. It’s aims are to develop a robust and sustainable imaging biomarker certification process, to revolutionise the speed and accuracy of cancer diagnosis, tumour classification and patient response to treatment.

The NCITA infrastructure provides access to world-class medical imaging technologies including:

  • whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (WB-MRI),
  • hyperpolarized 13 C MRI,
  • multi-parametric MRI,
  • oxygen-enhanced MRI and other MRI techniques (e.g. hyperpolarized xenon, CEST-MRI),
  • positron emission tomography (PET),
  • PET-MRI and PET-CT (PET-computed tomography)
  • novel CT (e.g. perfusion CT)

For more information please visit the NCITA webstite

If you have any queries about NCITA and its services, please email

Accelerating our ability to understand and target complexity and heterogeneity in cancer through automated imaging of 3D cancer models including patient-derived organoids

PF Imagine 3D modelsLed by Prof Paul French, this Accelerator consortium comprises Imperial College London, the Francis Crick Institute, the Institute of Cancer Research, the University of Edinburgh and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine at Barcelona, in collaboration with the Institute for Bio-engineering of Catalonia, the University of Dundee and University College London.

This Accelerator project aims to develop new technologies and methods to study heterogeneity of cancer cell fate in response to therapies. This will be resolved at the single cell level within the context of 3D culture models that more accurately represent the complexity of the tumour microenvironment in cancer patients than the cell monolayers typically used in drug discovery assays. It is hoped that this will will lead to an enhanced understanding of the mechanisms of cancer drug resistance, the role of the microenvironment in tumour response to therapies and lead to more effective high content screens for new drug treatments.

To address this aim, we will develop a number of open-source resources that will become available to the wider research community:

  • a curated range of 3D cancer models including PDX models, patient derived organoids and 3D co-cultures
  • open source, single cell-resolved High Content Analysis platforms specifically designed for 3D cell cultures and organoids
  • open source software tools for instrument control, data acquisition and image analysis
  • a validated set of assays for 3D cancer models including lower throughput approaches for basic research and higher throughput approaches for drug screening


3D High Content Analysis technologies

We will explore the trade-off between complexity of 3D cancer models and power of assays (in terms of single cell resolution and throughput) by developing modular open source automated instrumentation optimised for 3D imaging of complex cell cultures with a range of optical properties. Our openHCA platform will consist of 3 complementary instruments:

  • Oblique Plane Microscopy (OPM) – a high-speed light-sheet microscopy technique which can image 3D sample arrays at >25 volumes/second
  • Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging (FLIM) - can provide robust quantitative readouts of biomolecular interactions, including through Förster resonant energy transfer measurements
  • Multiphoton Microscopy (M3M) - extending the most powerful 3D fluorescence imaging technique for single cell imaging at depth to automated assays

From 2023 (to be confirmed), the consortium will invite applications for external researchers to access this new infrastructure and capabilities.