Outwitting Cancer

The Francis Crick Institute, London, London, United Kingdom

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 10:00 to Thursday, July 1, 2021 - 10:30

The Francis Crick Institute is to launch the UK’s first exhibition exploring the trail-blazing research that is turning the tide on cancer.

Outwitting Cancer will be an immersive exhibition that explores the science at the forefront of cancer research taking place at the Crick, which is Europe’s largest biomedical research institute under one roof.

Opening on 10 September 2020 until July 2021, Outwitting Cancer: Deciphering Humanity’s Enigmatic Disease will also be the first exhibition on cancer to take place within the setting of a working science lab in Europe.

Eight specially commissioned films capture conversations between cancer researchers, patients and people with unique personal perspectives on cancer, meeting for the first time to explore some of the big questions driving cancer research.  

The series of short films will form the backbone of the exhibition, and include:

  • BBC journalist and news presenter George Alagiah, who is living with bowel cancer, meets Vivian Li, Stem Cell and Cancer scientist, who is creating ‘mini-organs’ (organoids) in the quest to personalise  cancer treatments.
  • Renowned cell biologist Mariann Bienz, who had a lung removed as part of her own cancer treatment, meets Charlie Swanton, Cancer Research UK's (CRUK) Chief Clinician and Francis Crick group leader to talk about the evolution of tumours.
  • Lawyer Adam Blain, who had a brain tumour removed, meets scientist Simon Boulton to talk the role of DNA in cancer and his experience of having a tumour which was diagnosed by his wife.

The exhibition will feature a multisensory digital installation in a custom-built cinema.  ‘eXistential’ -  produced in collaboration with a world class artist collective - weaves together stunning microscopy imagery from Crick researchers, as well as a newly commissioned soundscape from artist Mira Calix.

Cancer remains one of the world’s most widespread and deadly diseases, with 1 in 2 of us developing cancer in our lifetime.  Through the immersive films and accompanying exquisite microscopy imagery, Outwitting Cancer addresses questions including “what is cancer?” and "why are so many people still dying from cancer?". 

Visitors will discover the importance of animal models, clinical trials and pharmaceuticals in the research pipeline, as well as the pioneering research taking place at biopharmaceutical companies leveraging patients’ own immune systems to tackle cancer,  including GammaDelta Therapeutics and Achilles Therapeutics which both began life at the Crick.

The exhibition will give a first look into the new horizons emerging in cancer research at the Francis Crick which is host to some of the most exceptional cancer researchers in the world. 

Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, said: “Unravelling the mysteries of human biology and using this to develop new ways to tackle diseases like cancer is at the heart of what we do at the Crick. Over recent years we have seen discoveries about how cancers evolve and new approaches to treating cancer. This exhibition will bring to life the journey our researchers are on to understand how cancer starts, spreads and responds to therapy.” 

Yasmin Khan, curator: “Outwitting Cancer is about the power and potential of cancer research.  The exhibition will get in the minds of the brilliant scientists working at the forefront of biological research.  It will seek to dispel confusion through an immersive digital exploration of the complexity of cancer, opening up new conversations around the disease and its future.”

Outwitting Cancer: Deciphering Humanity’s Enigmatic Disease  is a free exhibition running from 10 September 2020 until July 2021.  The press launch is Tuesday 8 September.  


Mira Calix (United Kingdom)
United Kingdom
The Francis Crick Institute, 1 Midland Road,, London, NW1 1AT