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The international partnership for developing a gastrointestinal cancer plan

The University of Oxford and Sichuan University Huaxi Joint Centre for Gastrointestinal Cancer is an international collaboration that seeks to develop an integrated cancer plan with a focus on gastrointestinal cancer.

Launched in May 2020, the University of Oxford and Sichuan University Huaxi Joint Centre for Gastrointestinal Cancer seeks to develop an integrated cancer plan with a focus on gastrointestinal cancer, underpinned by high quality basic, translational and clinical cancer research. The intention of the international collaboration, led by Prof. David Kerr (Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford) and visiting Professor Li Yang (Sichuan University), is to develop one team based across two sites, with an operating and governance system that will drive the exchange of ideas, which is crucial to academic development and alleviating the burden that cancer places on societies across the world.

Through building a portfolio of multi-disciplinary teams drawing from both organizations the Centre will enable scientists and clinicians to learn from each other and apply their expertise for the benefit of cancer patients in both nations.



Sign outside West China Hospital

Theme 1 – Colorectal Screening

The West China Hospital (WCH) has established a database of biological specimens from CRC patients (adenomas, early cancer, advanced cancer and adjacent normal tissues, blood, urine, etc.) and have a fantastic endoscopic service with access to a very large symptomatic patient population. Oxford has expertise in establishing regional screening programmes, developing RNA based biomarker analysis and stratification. These expertises are combined to validate emerging biomarker-based detection and screening strategies with a view to establishing the infrastructure to develop a comprehensive screening program in Chengdu.

Theme 2 – Prognostic biomarkers for GI cancers

West China Hospital and Oxford University Hospital (OUH) treat a significant number of patients with GI cancer where it represents a significant health-economic burden.  Oxford and Sichuan Universities have expertise in a range of novel technology platforms, colorectal and gastric biology, RNA/DNA biomarkers, AI and digital pathology expertise that can enable the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of cancer patients. Collaboration between researchers from both sites will enable the validation and clinical implementation of detection and treatment selection strategies.

Theme 3 – GI cancer Microenvironment – exploring stromal- epithelial interactions

Sichuan and Oxford Universities are home to researchers with expertise in a range of immune monitoring methods (single-cell sequencing, flow cytometry, multi-plex IF); metabolomic, epithelial-mesenchymal and vascular biology groups. Collaboration will enable the progression of our understanding of the role the microenvironment plays in disease progression in a range of cancer types including colorectal, gastro-oesophageal and pancreatic.

Theme 4 – GI Cancer Clinical Trial Programmes & Epigenetic Drug Target Identification

Oxford and Sichuan Universities have access to structural genomics, medicinal chemistry, target discovery platforms and a wide range of mouse models. A combined approach to exploit the enzymes involved in regulation of epigenesis as cancer drug targets will be undertaken

Development of a shared multidisciplinary clinical trials portfolio between WCH and OUH covering the spectrum of surgical, radiotherapeutic and medical interventions will enable the rapid translation of this knowledge for patient benefit.


For detailed project descriptions and Knowledge Exchange please see the West China Hospital – Oxford University portal here.

Partnership Portal

Academics involved in the Sichuan University (West China Hospital)-Oxford University Gastrointestinal Cancer Centre partnership can access projects and our Knowledge Exchange section through the Partnership Portal. 

This section is password protected and contains presentations, slides, project proposal documents and other information for those involved in the partnership.