Cancer research and innovation: conceptualising a persistent anomaly

Yingyong Xu, Dimitri Gagliardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last two decades, efforts in cancer treatment have been progressing rapidly in terms of scientific discoveries and development of new therapeutic solutions. Medical innovation contributes to significant survival gains for cancer patients. Yet, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death and one of the most pressing public health challenges worldwide. We propose an interpretative lens that refers to the idea of ‘anomaly’ as a driver of new technological paradigms to interpret new and emerging developments in medical innovation and in cancer treatment in particular. We use the lens of gateways to innovation and pathways of innovation to investigate how the organisation of (i) knowledge generation, (ii) technological applications and (iii) new clinical approaches emerge and are refined. We adopt a historical/longitudinal method following research and clinical outcomes in three ‘illustrative’ cases of cancer. Cancer is a heterogeneous, complex disease and is constantly evolving; thus, it remains a ‘persistent anomaly’. Research and clinical innovation activities have recently made great strides in understanding specific aspects of the disease and generated truly innovative therapeutic options in some areas, whilst in other areas, progress is lagging. At the same time, research and innovation activities have been employed to refine existing techniques, drugs and diagnostics providing improved treatment solutions across the related disease areas. Throughout its recent history, cancer research and innovation promoted several new paradigms tackling different aspects of the disease engendering new trajectories that have been implemented in conjunction with established and improved practices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInnovation: Organisation & Management
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2023


  • Persistent anomaly; innovation paradigms; gateways to innovation; pathways to innovation; cancer research and innovation; research and innovation trajectories

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute of Innovation Research


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