About us

What is digitalECMT?

The Digital Experimental Cancer Medicine Team was created to link clinical science with academic and scientific research with strategic partners, to transform the way that decisions in cancer treatments are made.

Working directly with patients

Based within the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Manchester Institute, and aligned to the Experimental Cancer Medicine Team in The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, digitalECMT is uniquely placed to work directly with patients in the development of new ways of monitoring clinical trials.

Our combined expertise applies a variety of innovative technological approaches to enable better, earlier clinical trial decisions that directly benefit the patient.

Using real-time technology to give patients a detailed means of recording and monitoring their experience on a clinical trial, the data gleaned enables faster and more efficient decision-making by doctors and scientists – seeking the truth and following the science.

What makes us unique

We are the hub within a unique network of world-class scientific and clinical experts, working hand in hand with patients, to learn from their personal contributions as they take part in clinical trials.

We have direct access to patients through the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust – delivering personalised healthcare to the individual.

Our work brings together experts from all aspects of clinical development. Individually, we can each tackle part of a clinical problem. But together, in this clinical informatics research and development framework, we can address some of the key issues in early clinical development. By working together, we can take decisions earlier in a clinical trial, with better data, to make better decisions for patients.

Collaboration in practice

A key program being delivered by digitalECMT is a collaboration with AstraZeneca called ‘iDecide’, delivering the outputs from a unique partnership between four strategic leaders in oncology research:

The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health (School of Cancer Sciences)

Cancer Research UK

The Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute Centre for Cancer Biomarker Sciences

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust Experimental Cancer Medicine Team, Manchester


AstraZeneca PLC

The ‘iDecide’ program will enable digitalECMT to put into practice technology which will help to increase the speed of data input, to benefit scientific research and help the patient have an active role in their treatment.

Precision Science – transforming clinical trials

Working with patients, we are developing proven applications that deliver precision safety and monitoring techniques in the clinical trial setting. Our precision medicine capabilities are rapidly expanding, enabling the classification of cancer tumours according to their genetic make-up, using tumour and blood biomarkers, and selection of a therapy to target specific individual tumour molecular changes.

We want to significantly improve the application of clinical trial informatics to better identify the right cancer treatment for individual patients.

This will make personalised medicine a reality – delivering the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.

digitalECMT is harnessing digital technology and solutions that will initially be used within the Experimental Cancer Medicine Team, (ECMT) for early phase oncology trials at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

Our work will drive change for patient benefit. We also want our applications to enable more patients to take part in clinical trials, through precision monitoring of safety and efficacy. The ability to provide improved targeted monitoring will enable trial organisers to expand the inclusion criteria, giving a broader range of patients the opportunity to participate.

Our patients are co-scientists in clinical research

We want patients to feel they are contributing to the clinical trial. Not just a number in a research study, patients on our clinical trials are individual contributors and active collaborators. Each patient has an interactive role in the monitoring and progress of the clinical trial. The information they provide as co-scientists is vitally important, enabling better, earlier clinical trial decisions that directly benefit the patient.

Our work is transforming clinical trial culture – from patient as subject to patient as partner.

We will link each oncology patient on our trials to their molecular profile and educate them in terms of its significance to them in the trial.

Patients on our clinical trials are valuable members of our team, striving to evolve the science of cancer medicine. Our patients are valued. They are contributing to the development of new solutions within oncology treatment. By working together in this way, the boundaries of learning can be pushed forward for the benefit of patients.

In practice

In a clinical trial, we will have a project office and seminar room above the clinical trial unit. We will work directly with patients to design a specific application with the patient and clinical team for that trial.

We are uniquely placed to liaise with, and work with patients in one of Europe’s leading experimental cancer medicines sites. From seeking the opinions of patients, their families, and carers in the outpatients’ areas at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, to engaging with individual patients on a clinical trial, we are listening to the voice of the patient. The patient is involved at every stage of our work, helping to inform the clinicians and scientists to shape and run clinical trials, and to advance the development of new cancer medicines.

Tools we use

Our core framework uses the tools developed by the iDecide collaboration. A key component is access to real-time data to enable real-time decisions to adapt the clinical trial:

In addition, we are working with new technology partners to investigate and develop new applications that will help to transform clinical trials through digital precision science.


2016 was an active year for digitalECMT team in communicating the iDecide programme at external conferences and education events. Further publications are in the process of being planned.


Hughes, A., Landers, D., Arkenau, H-T., Shah, S., Stephens, R., Mahal, A., Simmons, M., Lemech, C., Royle, J. (2016). Development and Evaluation of a New Technological Way of Engaging Patients and Enhancing Understanding of Drug Tolerability in Early Clinical Development: PROACT. Advances in Therapy, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 1012–1024 doi:10.1007/s12325-016-0335-

External Presentations

  • NIHR / UK Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs) Network Conference – Manchester – July 11-12
  • Evolution Summit – Cologne – November 9-11 2016
  • Informa Life Science ECD Conference – Vienna – November 2016


  • MRes Programme – REACT and PROACT lectures to students – data analytics