History of the U-CAN project


  • The Swedish Government announces the launch of ‘Strategic Research Areas’ in its budget proposition 2009/10:1
  • Uppsala university (UU) in collaboration with Umeå university (UmU), Stockholm university (SU) and Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH), applies for the institution of a strategic cancer area, which is consequently approved


  • Ethics permit for U-CAN is granted. Principal Investigator of the project is professor Bengt Glimelius
  • An Administrative Director is hired to help run the project
  • Work concerning the start up of diagnoses groups and establishment of protocols and procedures within the project is initiated
  • U-CAN starts its collection with the following initial diagnostic areas:
    • Colorectal cancer (UU + UmU)
    • Brain tumours (UU + UmU)
    • Prostate cancer (UU)
    • Haematological malignancies (UU)
    • Lymphoma (UU)
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 470
  • Number of research applications: 0


  • As a result of close collaboration between Akademiska Sjukhuset, Uppsala University and Uppsala Biobank the infrastructure for 'Hospital Integrated Biobanking' launches in May in an effort to meet the need stipulated by U-CAN regarding 24 hour/all year round biobanking and traceability. The Uppsala model for hospital integrated biobanking will eventually proceed to serve as a model for national investments in biobanking infrastructure in Sweden
  • Collection of haematological malignancies, lymphoma, prostate cancer and lung cancer starts in Umeå
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 2027
  • Number of research applications: 1


  • Collection of gynaecological cancer starts in January in Uppsala
  • Collection of haematological malignancies and lymphoma starts in June in Falun
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 3786
  • Number of research applications: 4


  • Collection of neuroendocrine tumours starts in April in Uppsala
  • Collection of breast cancer starts in October in Uppsala
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 5564
  • Number of research applications: 8


  • The Swedish government and the Swedish Research Council announce an evaluation of the Strategic Research Areas to be presented in 2015. Work with a report commences.
  • Collection of lymphoma starts in October in Karlstad
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 7527
  • Number of research applications: 16


  • Collection of lung cancer starts in January in Uppsala
  • Collection of lung cancer starts in Falun and Gävle
  • The report resulting from the evaluation of the Strategic Research Areas is presented (link to report). U-CAN receives very high marks in the report, continued funding is recommended and it is concluded that “the project is on the frontline in an international perspective” and further that “the project is developing with high standard”
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 9787
  • Number of research applications: 22


  • U-CAN recruits a new Administrative Director
  • U-CAN starts a collaboration with the European biobanking infrastructure, BBMRI-ERIC
  • Principal investigator for U-CAN is now professor Gunilla Enblad
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 12 370
  • Number of research applications: 40


  • A new and common information to research participants and infomed consent form is introduced in Uppsala and its participating nodes, which replaces all the previous informations and consents that were diagnosis-specific
  • Several important changes to the ethical permit are made, for instance:
    • Expansion of number of diagnoses admissible for inclusion in U-CAN
    • The possibility to collect more diversified sample types
    • The possibility to include a control cohort comprising of patients with other diagnoses than cancer
    • Ethical permit to create the IT structure and database later known as “Octopus” is given
  • Collection of gastric- and esophageal cancer starts in August in Uppsala
  • U-CAN announces funding for PhD students and Post Docs for a maximum period of four years. Four applications are granted.
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 14 997
  • Number of research applications: 64


  • Work commences in collaboration with Uppsala Biobank and Uppsala Clinical Research Center on creating a U-CAN specific IT-structure and database, later known as “Octopus
  • External research projects start connecting to U-CAN in order to benefit from the U-CAN infrastructure for sample and data collection
  • Collection of head and neck cancer starts in October in Uppsala
  • The U-CAN ethical permit is expanded with the possibility of including healthy volunteers as a control population
  • A new Informed Consent Form (ICF) for healthy volunteers as controls is introduced
  • The U-CAN consent and the U-CAN ethical permits are adjusted in accordance with the new GDPR legislation
  • The possibility to collect samples from all types of cancer using the U-CAN framework logistical framework is granted
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 17 538
  • Number of research applications: 85


  • U-CAN launches a unified and performance-based compensation model to compensate the health care system for their work with U-CAN
  • The first version of the U-CAN IT-system “Octopus” is brought into operation
  • Work developing a new U-CAN questionnaire is initiated, the new version is granted an ethical permit and subsequently implemented
  • Collection of cancer in an organ transplanted patients starts in September in Uppsala
  • Numbers of patients included in U-CAN: 19 756
  • Number of research applications: 105


  • The Cancer-Covid collection starts April 1, only two months after the Covid pandemic reaches Sweden. This rapid start was made possible by the already present U-CAN infrastructure and ethical permits.
  • All U-CAN collection nodes in Sweden (Falun, Karlstad, Gävle) are integrated into “Octopus
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 22 328
  • Number of research applications: 128


  • Collection of liver-, bildeduct- and pancreatic cancer starts in April
  • Collection of a select group of haematological malignancies starts in May in Västerås
  • Collection of colorectal cancer and controls (endoscopy patients) starts in September in Gävle
  • A comprehensive revision of the collection routines across U-CAN is carried out and the transformation work is begun
  • Number of patients included in U-CAN: 23 696
  • Number of research applications: 157


  • Implementation of the revised U-CAN collection routines takes place in January
  • The U-CAN website is updated with a new design and new content.
  • U-CAN announces the possibility for financial research support for projects using U-CAN samples and/or data during 2022-2023. The call is for 2 MSEK. 
Last modified: 2022-10-05