Manchester City Council

Jewels in the Crown - Stayin' Alive

On a train, again. From Newcastle, again, where I was giving the annual Rutherford lecture at Northumbria University talking about devolution and the Northern Powerhouse. However I want to use this post to talk about a couple of jewels in Manchester's very large and heavily bejewelled crown.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a couple of hours at the Cancer Research Centre co-located with the Christie Hospital, a visit that could easily have stretched to a couple of days. Some of the time was spent in the labs looking at some mind boggling work. A stand out was the machine that has reduced the sequencing of the human genome from thirteen years and a $1billion to doing several people a week at a cost of a few thousand pounds each.

We also spent some time talking about cancer prevention, particularly lung cancer and skin cancer. Some very straightforward messages supported by very robust research. On skin cancer, don't use sun beds! They're banned in Australia and probably ought to be here. Scientists at the CRC have proved the link between ultra violet radiation and skin cancer and the intensity of the radiation in sun beds is a killer.

Smoking causes 19% of all cancer cases in the UK, more than the next four highest causes put together, and 80% of lung cancer cases. Over the past forty years the ten year survival rate for lung cancer has only increased from 3% to 5%. The annual cost of smoking to the NHS is over £100m, and the annual cost of smoking to society in Greater Manchester alone is almost £800m. In short, lung cancer isn't curable, but like skin cancer, it is largely preventable.

The other jewel I want to mention is the Royal Northern College of Music, a world-class conservatoire in the heart of our university area. The college attracts the best students and teachers from around the world and has some amazing facilities. Very new is totally soundproof and wired music pod with built in recording studio, the largest in the world, which amongst other things allows students on the popular music course to make as much noise as they like without disturbing other, more sedate, music practice elsewhere.

The college is also looking to invest more particularly in its digital infrastructure, library, archive and museum? Yes it has a small but fascinating museum, but you would struggle to find it in the building's basement. Investment though requires money and do fund-raising has to be a real priority. In term time there almost daily concerts and my visit, on a Thursday lunchtime, culminated in joining several hundred other people in listening to the college's brilliant brass band in concert.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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