Sir George BeatsonThe foundations for the Scotland Institute were laid at the end of the 19th century when, in 1890, a new cancer hospital was opened in Glasgow. Sir George Thomas Beatson, a pioneer in the field of oncology born in Campbelltown on the West Coast of Scotland, was appointed as consulting surgeon at the hospital in 1893 and soon became head of the institution. In 1912, Beatson established a research department in the hospital.

In 1967 – under the directorship of Dr John Paul – the department became the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and moved to its present location at the Garscube Estate in 1976. Prof John Wyke became Director in 1987 and worked to develop links between the Beatson Institute and the University of Glasgow – in particular with the departments of Medical and Radiation Oncology. Prof Karen Vousden then served as Director from 2002 until 2016, overseeing the opening of a new building for the Institute in 2008 and going on to become CRUK’s chief scientist. In 2017, Professor Owen Sansom took over as Director, having served as Deputy Director since 2011.

Most recently, in September 2023, the Institute changed its name to the Cancer Research UK Scotland Institute following Cancer Research UK’s announcement of their biggest ever investment in Scotland which will be awarded to the Institute.