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Updates from the JBU

25 Jul 2023

The funding of life-saving research has always been at the heart of our work at York Against Cancer.

The Jack Birch Unit (JBU) is York Against Cancer’s flagship Cancer Research Unit based at the University of York. The Unit opened in May 1992 and was named after Jack Birch, a former Lord Mayor of York and York Against Cancer’s first Chairman.

The JBU’s goal is “making a difference to the lives of people by reducing the incidence of cancer or providing better treatments”.  Under the current Director, Professor Jenny Southgate, research in the JBU focuses on how to prevent and treat cancers of the bladder and urinary tract. The team have developed methods to grow cells and tissues in the laboratory from samples of human bladder and urinary tract donated to their specialist tissue bank by patients undergoing surgery.

The unique approach undertaken by the JBU allows the research team to study real life processes outside of the human body.  In recent work published in the scientific journal “Cancers”, the team has identified a process by which cancers may evade elimination by the part of the immune system that carries out tumour surveillance. This has led to a new programme of research in the laboratory that aims to improve immunotherapy strategies for bladder cancer.

(Image description: Professor Jenny Southgate (middle) & York Against Cancer volunteers on a visit to the JBU laboratories in May 2023, standing next to a picture of namesake, Jack Birch.)

Recently, volunteers from York Against Cancer took a tour around the JBU to learn more about what the unit does. It’s fantastic to see those in the York Against Cancer community engage across so many different areas of the charity, getting to see the ground breaking research over at the university.

We have made a five-year £1.3m commitment to the JBU, helping Jenny and her team in a range of projects. Funding this lifesaving research is only made possible thanks to the incredible community of supporters and donors that we have at York Against Cancer. We know how lucky we are to benefit from the help of the York and the North and East Yorkshire communities.

Learn more about the research undertaken at the Jack Birch Unit here.