Rochdale scientist urges people to unite for World Cancer Day

Date published: 24 January 2021

A scientist from Rochdale is backing Cancer Research UK’s campaign for World Cancer Day and is urging everyone to join him.

Dr Ali Raoof is a lead medicinal chemist at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute – part of the University of Manchester – where he helps to develop new drugs to treat cancer patients.

The 45-year-old, who grew up in Rochdale and attended Redbrook Middle School and Oulder Hill High School, is encouraging local people to donate or wear one of Cancer Research UK’s Unity Bands with pride on Thursday 4 February.

Ali said: “Every year, around 41,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West of England* so by donating or wearing a Unity Band, people can show their support for those affected.

“As a cancer scientist, I know first-hand the devastating impact the disease has on individuals and families. I also lost my own grandmother to stomach cancer, which really affected us all as a family.

“That’s why I’m inviting everyone to be part of a movement that can help make a real difference to so many people’s lives.

“Charities like Cancer Research UK have been hit hard by Covid-19, but we can all play a part in helping to protect people with cancer from the fallout of the pandemic.”


Dr Ali Raoof wearing Unity bands


A Unity Band is a wristband which symbolises solidarity with people affected by cancer.

Available in three different colours – pink, navy and blue – it can be worn in memory of a loved one, to celebrate people who’ve overcome cancer or in support of those going through treatment.

Money raised by World Cancer Day donations or Unity Bands will help fund crucial cancer research, like the work being carried out by Ali.

He joined the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute in 2010 and is part of a team of scientists working to develop new therapies for cancer patients. He has a first-class undergraduate degree in Chemistry and a PhD in Organic Chemistry, both from the University of Manchester.

He said: “Research is vital to help more people survive cancer in the future and it’s so important that it continues. As a medicinal chemist, I work with a variety of chemical compounds and molecules in the lab to develop new drugs for specific cancers which don’t currently have many treatment options.

“I have worked on a range of challenging cancer projects in the areas of lung cancers and rare leukaemias to name a few – and every mini-breakthrough in the drug design process has provided more and more insight into how to combat these and other cancers in patients. 

“Many of our discoveries in Manchester have already contributed to the development of various cancer medicines which are now being used to treat patients, which is incredible to see.”


Dr Ali Raoof, a lead medicinal chemist at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute


But life-saving research such as this is now under threat. Due to the impact of the pandemic, Cancer Research UK expects to see its fundraising income decline by a staggering £300m over the next three years.

Marked on 4 February, World Cancer Day is an international initiative, which unites people around the world to beat the disease. Right now, it’s never been more important to help save more lives.

In the UK, survival has doubled in the last 40 years and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress. But the charity needs more support to continue its mission.

Anna Taylor, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West of England, said: “One in two people will get cancer in their lifetime, which is why we’re absolutely determined to continue to create better cancer treatments for tomorrow.

“World Cancer Day is a great opportunity for people in the North West to unite and show solidarity with everyone whose life has been touched by the disease.

“Thanks to the work of dedicated scientists like Ali, our research has played a role in developing 8 of the world’s top 10 cancer drugs and we’re working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. But we can’t do it alone.

“That’s why we hope people across the region will donate or wear a Unity Band with pride, knowing they are helping to save lives. Together we will beat cancer.”

Before the pandemic, Cancer Research UK was able to spend over £33 million in the North West of England last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

Donate or get a Unity Band online at

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