Secondary school children from across the UK are being invited by Cancer Research UK to help unlock the Science of Tomorrow in a new writing competition.

The charity is asking children between the ages of 11-18 to look 50 years into the future and imagine it is 2056. It wants to know what the science of the future will be like – what types of medical research will scientists be working on in fifty years time, what new developments will they have made and what new problems will they be tackling?

The winners will have their essay published on the Cancer Research UK Information Resource Centre website. The website offers in-depth and up-to-date information for people with a general or professional interest in cancer and health.

The two overall winners of the competition, one for the 11-14 age group and one for the 15-18 year old category, will get their hands on tickets to the highly anticipated exhibition about Pixar animation*, kindly donated by the Science Museum in London.

Pupils will need to write a 700-word essay on the science of 2056. To enter the competition all they need to do is log on to the Science of Tomorrow website. Here they can access the easy online form as well as information and ideas from Cancer Research UK scientists.

Once submitted, the essays will be judged by an esteemed panel, including Professor Alex Markham, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Tim Radford, former science editor of the Guardian, Blue Peter presenter Zöe Salmon and Professor Fran Balkwill, a distinguished Cancer Research UK oncologist who has written children’s books explaining science at the most basic level. Fran was awarded the prestigious Faraday prize by the Royal Society in 2005 for her ability to communicate science.

Dr Julie Sharp, science information manager at Cancer Research UK said: “With this competition we want to inspire young people to think about science and research in a unique way. We also want to promote good science communication, as this is crucial to the role of Cancer Research UK.

“The competition is open to anyone with an imagination and we are looking for exciting ideas and a good written style.”

Professor Fran Balkwill gives entrants a helping hand with her suggestion for the science of the tomorrow: “There will be no humans in the lab, only robot technicians linked to a scientist’s brain – the scientist thinks – and instantly the experiment is done!”

There are science books up for grabs for the winners from the two age groups in each region. The competition closes on Friday 7 April 2006 and the winners will be notified shortly afterwards.

The launch of the competition coincides with National Science Week, which runs from 10-17 March 2006. This annual event aims to celebrate science and its importance to people’s lives, providing an opportunity for people of all ages across the UK to take part in science, engineering and technology activities.


For media enquiries please contact Emma Gilgunn-Jones on 020 7061 8311 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.


National Science Week is coordinated by the BA (British Association of the Advancement of Science) and is supported by the Department of Trade & Industry and sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council. A program of events happening locally can be found at the BA website.

What some of our scientists think medical research will be like in the future “In 2056, medical science will be even more focused on the individual, their wishes, their future health and their genetic make-up.”Professor Tim Maughan, Wales Cancer Trials Network

“There has never been a more exciting time to be involved in medical research. The recent publication of the human genome sequence has provided the key to a potential treasure chest of future cancer targets.”Professor Roger Griffin, Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle-upon-Tyne “In 50 years, we will know how to prevent the majority of cases of the common diseases like cancer and heart disease. Medical research will focus on combining information from various fields of science to plan environments, lifestyles and food supply so that we can optimize both the health of people and the health of the planet.”Professor Tim Key, Cancer Research UK Epidemiology Unit, Oxford

“Changing how people look after themselves and each other will stop more cancers than any single new drug ever discovered. In the future, better prevention, diagnosis, treatment and support in cancer medicine will depend on partnerships between students, teachers, lay people, health workers, researchers, IT specialists, charities, industry and government.”Professor David Harrison, University of Edinburgh

Competition information

  • The competition is called ‘The Science of Tomorrow’
  • All entrants must be aged 11-18 by 7 April 2006.
  • There will be 10 regional winners with categories for children under 14 and over 14.
  • The word limit is 700 words
  • Entrants can submit their essays via the Science of Tomorrow website or by post to The Science of Tomorrow, Cancer Research UK, PO Box 123, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PX

The Science Museum Pixar: 20 Years of Animation, opens on April 1 2006. This amazing new exhibition will provide artistic and technological insight into Pixar studio’s hugely successful movies including Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo. Bringing together 250 drawings and paintings, 50 sculptures plus computer generated multi media artworks, the collection will show the phenomenal levels of detail needed to realise and develop characters, storylines and worlds – three key elements utilised by Pixar in film production. For more information visit the Science Museum website.

Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK’s vision is to conquer cancer through world-class reseach.
  • The charity works alone and in partnership with others to carry out research into the biology and causes of cancer, to develop effective treatments, improve the quality of life for cancer patients, reduce the number of people getting cancer and to provide authoritative information on cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading independent charity dedicated to research on the causes, treatment and prevention of cancer.
  • For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7121 6699 or visit the Cancer Research UK website.