With only a week’s notice in March 2020, the Institute closed its doors and all non-critical staff were required to work from home. An extraordinary amount of work took place in a short period to ensure this occurred safely and sustainably, and the Institute community adapted swiftly to the new working conditions.

In May 2020, we were the first University building on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus to reopen, with efforts taken to ensure this was done in the safest way possible. Since then, cancer research has resumed within the Institute, although some operations staff continue to work from home where possible.

Testing facility

In April 2020, the Institute joined forces with the Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre to provide COVID-19 testing for NHS staff. The work put in by our staff enabled Addenbrooke’s Hospital to swiftly identify and contain COVID-19 infections in their clinical staff, allowing critical services and teams to continue operating on site.

Over time, the testing facility adapted to provide an asymptomatic testing service for the Institute, providing a safe working environment for our staff to continue their vital work during the pandemic.

Since opening a year ago, the testing facility has processed over 6000 tests to help the NHS and 7000 tests for CRUK Cambridge Institute staff.

Over 80 staff volunteered their time to run the testing facility throughout its operation, and we owe the volunteers in this initiative a huge debt of gratitude for all of the help they have provided.

Equipment donation

At the beginning of the pandemic, when personal and protective equipment was in short supply, we gladly donated equipment from our stores. In total, we donated 100 surgical face masks, 4 face visors, 100 surgical gowns, 26 eye goggles, 7150 gloves and 25 litres of hand sanitiser to the NHS. Ten litres of hand sanitiser was also donated to Arthur Rank Hospice in Cambridge to ensure staff and resident safety.


We are incredibly proud of the attitude and willingness of all the Institute members who participated in volunteer initiatives throughout the pandemic. Many of our clinical scientists seconded from their research to return to front line medical work at the hospital, others volunteered through the NHS volunteering programme. Staff also volunteered to work in the Milton Keynes and Cambridge government COVID-19 testing facilities. Some used their 3D printing skills to manufacture critical PPE supplies for Addenbrooke’s Hospital, or volunteered to support the elderly and care home residents in a frequent contact scheme. Our Genomics Core Facility were also involved in the University of Cambridge COVID-19 research effort by offering sequencing assistance.