Robert Bristow

Professor of Cancer Studies and Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre

Dr. Bristow completed his MD (1992) and PhD (1996) at the University of Toronto and completed research fellowships at Massachusetts General Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer, the MAYO clinic and Erasmus University Rotterdam. In 1999, he was appointed as Clinician-Scientist in Genito-Urinary Oncology at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and subsequently became Professor of Radiation Oncology and Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto. Dr. Bristow joined University of Manchester as Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC) in August 2017 with a remit to developing a new cancer strategy for Manchester with a cancer team science approach. The MCRC is a unique partnership between CRUK, the University of Manchester and the Christie NHS Trust. Working with scientific and clinical researchers, Dr. Bristow’s aim is to develop personalized medicine approaches for cancer patients across the UK and worldwide.

His primary research interests are in tumour hypoxia, DNA damage signaling and repair in tumours, and the genomics of prostate cancer progression and cancer treatment response. He is particularly interested in novel clinical trials that intensify cancer therapy to prostate cancer patients whose tumours harbor aggressive genetic changes and hypoxic sub-regions. His team was the first to the genetics of intermediate risk prostate cancer and defined molecular sub-groups for genomic classification and triage to intensification protocols.  Using a multi-modal approach (e.g. DNA mutation, gene arrangements and methylation) his team developed novel prognostication tools. He discovered an underlying aggressive biology in prostate cancer (“nimbosis”) that suggests that certain prostate glands have a field defect that makes them prone to hypoxia, genetic instability and aggressive sub-clonal outgrowth with acquired lethal driver mutations. As senior author, this work has been published in journals such as Nature, Nature Genetics, Lancet Oncology and CELL.   

Dr. Bristow is currently a senior group leader in Translational Oncogenomics at the CRUK Manchester Institute and was the lead PI for the Canadian component of the ICGC whole genome prostate cancer sequencing project (CPC-GENE). He serves on a number of Scientific Advisory Boards and committees for: the Prostate Cancer Foundation (USA), the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, the MOVEMBER Foundation, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). He now sits on the Scientific Executive Board for Cancer Research UK (CRUK). He is Editor of the 5th Edition Basic Science of Oncology and has over 270 published papers and book chapters. He is twice a Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) awardee. He was made a Canadian Cancer Society Research Scientist in 2004 and an ESTRO Honorary Fellow in 2011.