Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now

Supporting the next generation of cancer researchers

by Oliver Childs | Analysis

11 August 2011

1 comment 1 comment

Researcher in lab

The next generation of researchers is vital for continued progress

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve given prestigious fellowships to ten promising junior cancer researchers who we think will be tomorrow’s research leaders.

Many of our scientists are world-renowned experts in their field but they will eventually retire.

So to ensure that we stay at the cutting edge of cancer research, we need to make sure that our next generation of scientists are ready to continue making the fantastic breakthroughs that mean fewer people will die from cancer.

We like to think that discovering and nurturing exceptional talent is something we have become rather good at; some of our best scientists have been with us from early on in their careers. We thought you might be interested in learning a little more about how we invest in the future.

The kids are alright

So who were we looking for? In short, we wanted the world’s brightest and most innovative young research minds and to find them, we put them through a gruelling nine-month selection process of which even  Lord Sugar would have approved. Our expert panel of world-renowned senior scientists – together with a host of international peer reviewers – whittled down nearly 100 applications to identify the ten most outstanding new investigators. Each new “fellow” will receive long-term support to enable them to establish or develop their own research group.

Professor Margaret Frame, Director of the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre and Chair of the selection panel, paid tribute to these new fellows:

“I am always astonished by the great new ideas that I see at these interviews. The funding from Cancer Research UK will give these ten scientists the time and resources to take on challenging problems in cancer. I look forward to watching them develop their own independent careers and join the next generation of cancer research leaders in the UK and internationally.”

This is the first time we have been able to support so many new investigators in one go and is testament to our commitment to investing in the future.

Our other fellowship panels have been working hard too. We have pledged to support five up-and-coming clinician scientists, who are working at the boundary of the lab and the clinic. We will also be supporting three exceptionally talented researchers working in population science, covering areas such as clinical and public health epidemiology, and educational and behavioural research.

For s/he’s a jolly good fellow

But succeeding as a successful independent scientist requires much more than just funding.

Our new investigators might have shown that they can make a centrifuge sing, but running a world-class lab requires a whole new repertoire of skills – including people management, recruitment and managing the lab budget. And they’ll have to work hard to establish their reputations and carve out their own research niche against a ruthlessly competitive backdrop.

So to help them along their way, each new investigator nominates a mentor – a senior scientist who’s been there, done it and got the labcoat.  They’ll be on hand to help their junior scientist navigate unfamiliar waters. We’ll also send our fellows on lab management courses to further develop their skills and we’ll help identify and nip any problems in the bud by undertaking a formal appraisal half-way through their fellowship.

Finally, getting our scientists together and talking to each other is also really important to us, and so we invite all our scientists who are at a similar career stage, as well as a few senior scientists, to some networking meetings. They are great forums for exchanging ideas, fostering collaborations and getting a few  ‘handy hints’.

Dr Marie Boyd of the University of Strathclyde has just finished a Senior Cancer Research Fellowship and was appreciative of this support.

“The fellowship has been key to establishing me in my career and setting up my group in new labs. I consider myself very fortunate in receiving this award and for all the mentoring the fellowship team have provided over its course.”

Praise indeed, and we look forward to welcoming all our new scientists into the Cancer Research UK family.

Matt Kaiser, Research Funding Manager

More opportunities

It’s worth pointing out to any ambitious cancer researcher who is at this early stage of their career that we aim to continue investing in career development, and hope to make up to ten new investigators awards, up to five clinician scientists fellowships, and up to three population research postdoctoral fellowships each year. Candidates should have strong track record of research, and the proposed work should be fit within our Research Strategy. Please keep an eye on the websites for announcements and get in touch to discuss an application.


  • mrs elaine darlow
    12 September 2011

    Sorry to see these vehement comments in support of animal usage especially in the light of the safermedicines campaign brought by MPS to The Commons and supported by scientists.Medicines need to be safe.


  • mrs elaine darlow
    12 September 2011

    Sorry to see these vehement comments in support of animal usage especially in the light of the safermedicines campaign brought by MPS to The Commons and supported by scientists.Medicines need to be safe.