The Breakthrough Toby Robins Breast Cancer Research Centre is housed in the Mary-Jean Mitchell Green Building at The Institute of Cancer Research.

After Bill Freedman lost his wife, Toby Robins, to breast cancer in 1986 he and his family worked together with Professor Gusterson, the founding Director of the Breakthrough Research Centre, to develop the idea of a dedicated breast cancer research centre. Their aim was to bring scientists and clinicians together to develop a multidisciplinary approach to tackling breast cancer.

The £15 million needed to realize this vision and build the Breakthrough Research Centre was raised by the generosity, determination and commitment of numerous individuals – many with direct experience of the disease – and the support of various companies and charitable trusts.

From its conception, through to planning and building, the generosity of Peter Green and his family has been instrumental in bringing the Breakthrough Research Centre to life. The building which houses the Centre is named the Mary-Jean Mitchell Green Building, in memory of Peter’s wife who died of breast cancer in 1990, aged just 38. The Mary-Jean Mitchell Green Foundation continues to be a key supporter of our research, and currently helps fund the work of Professor Mitch Dowsett at the Royal Marsden Hospital and the Breakthrough Research Centre.

After years of hard work, The Centre was opened in 1999 by Breakthrough\’s Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales. Under the guidance of Director Professor Clare Isacke, the Centre now houses over 120 scientists and clinicians in ten teams, working on a coordinated research programme. Scientists at the Centre are  truly leading the way in breast cancer research, supported by strong links with researchers and clinicians at The Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust – the largest cancer facility in Europe.

Breakthrough is building on the outstanding success of the Breakthrough Research Centre by creating a cohesive and collaborative UK network of breast cancer research. We now fund research at Breakthrough Research Units in London and Manchester, and fund projects in Edinburgh as well as the Breakthrough Clinical Researcher Programme. This is an exciting and ambitious phase in the growth of Breakthrough’s research.


Breakthrough Breast Cancer has invested £63.7m in the Breakthrough Research Centre since it opened in 1999.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer has an annual research spend of around £10m, with around £6m going towards the Research Centre. Breakthrough funds long-term research programmes, and in addition to supporting the Centre, funds the Breakthrough Generations Study, the two Breakthrough Research Units in King’s College London and Manchester, funding in Scotland and the Breakthrough Clinical Researcher in Oxford.