Accessibility statement

Funding over the last 5 years

York Against Cancer (YAC) provides funding to the Jack Birch Unit (JBU) so that it can continue to produce high quality research into the urothelium and bladder cancer. Over the last five years funding from YAC has been used to support important research in a variety of ways outlined below. These include using money for funding positions and buying equipment.

YAC 5 year core programme grant 

Some funding is used to partially or fully support salaries for director, deputy, administrator, 3 technical staff and a Phd Student.

Recently YAC had it's 30th year anniversary. In celebration of this they have funded a research fellowship into cancer informatic which was awarded to Dr Andrew Mason 

Equipment is also required for a functioning lab. Over the last five years funds from YAC have paid for or contributed to several items of equipment: 

  • Replacement of Li-COR Odyssey infared scanner for Western blot quantification 
  • cellZscope2 to enable real-time monitoring of transepithelial electrical resistance in replicate cultures.
  • Zeiss Axio Scan scanning microscope and TissueGnostics imaging software for quantitative immunohistological analysis. Money from YAC used to purchase a first-in-world AxioScan scanning microscope with software imaging platform for quantitative analysis. 

URoBank - specialist research tissue bank 

The JBU had to previously rely on the NHS Research Ethics Committee to approve sample collection for each individual project. This was a time consuming process which got in the way of research. What complicated matters even more was that depending on patient consent samples must either be destroyed or tissues moved to a registered tissue bank when the project ended. 

However the JBU now has its own NHS research ethics committee approved research tissue bank called URoBank. This allows collaboration between scientists and clinicians whose interests lie in urothelial tissue research and will hopefully lead to new therapies for poorly understood or managed urological conditions.

The major advantage of URoBank is that tissues collected have the broad and enduring consent of their donors, which enables us to approve the use of samples for internal or external collaborations without further ethical review. The introduction of URoBank has brought about a dramatic improvement in the JBU's efficiency.

Bladder cancer tissues 

There is a lack of local access to staged and graded primary cancer tissues. In a collaboration with the University of Regensburg they have provided tissue microarrays which represent central and invasive regions of muscle invasive bladder cancer from 60 patients with clinical histories. These have been used to study co-expression of transcription factors and other candidate proteins which might be exploited by tumours to increase their tumour growth. 

The JBU Director has also been successful as a coinvestigator on a recently-awarded Digital Spatial Profiling platform (NanoString) that will enable highly multiplexed RNA or protein detection in combination with conserved spatial resolution.


Over the last 4 years the JBU has published 18 peer reviewed primary research articles as well as 4 invited reviews. There was also successful completion of doctoral dissertations by 10 PhD and 2 MD candidates.

Areas of research covered over the last 4 years include: 

  • Urothelium: the urothelial transcriptome 
  • Plasticity and epigenetic regulation
  • Urothelial homeostasis: balancing regeneration versus differentiation. 
  • Growth-regulating signal transduction pathways and cross-talk 
  • Urothelial carcinogenesis and novel cancer therapies
  • Other (benign) uropathologies
  • Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine

The next five year plan

The JBU recently had their five year programme granted from YAC, over the next five years the JBUs research areas will be:

  • Urothelium: The urothelial transcriptome 
  • Plasticity and epigenetic regulation
  • Urothelial homeostasis: balancing regeneration versus differentiation
  • Urothelial carcinogenesis and novel cancer therapies 
  • Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM)


  • Western blot - used to detect specific protein molecules from among a mixture of proteins
  • tissue microarrays - many small representative tissue samples from hundreds of different cases assembled on a single histologic slide, and therefore allows high throughput analysis of multiple specimens at the same time.