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New funding for early detection research

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by Cancer Research UK | Research Feature

19 June 2017

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Early Detection


The chances of survival increase significantly if cancer is detected and treated at an early stage. Expanding research in the early detection field offers the potential for transformational improvements in patient outcomes and is essential in making progress towards our vision of 3 in 4 people surviving cancer by 2034.

We are convening a new Early Detection Research Committee that will award funding for research into the early detection of cancer. We’re challenging the research community to focus efforts, drawing together disparate activity across many areas of cancer research and across disciplines – including biomedical sciences, physical sciences, engineering, mathematics and industry – to bring in new thinking and build novel early detection research projects.

The Early Detection Research Committee will consider early detection research as investigations that enable the detection of cancer, or pre-cancerous states, at the earliest possible time point at which an intervention might be made. Our ambition is to build to an annual investment of £20 million in this area by 2021.

Initially, the committee’s remit will include:

Project awards

  • Catalytic awards to stimulate and support new lines of early detection research
  • Up to £500,000
  • Up to 3 years

Programme awards

  • High-level support for ambitious research programmes to enable significant progress in early detection research
  • Flexible funding to be responsive in an evolving field
  • Up to £2.5m
  • Up to 5 years
  • Renewable

We will fund discovery and translational research which is mindful of the clinical/population context, including, but not limited to:

  • Biological research underpinning early detection and biomarker discovery/validation
  • Human-based early detection discovery research
  • Population risk-stratification for early detection
  • Biomedical and health informatics, and systems biology for early detection
  • Development and utilization of preclinical early detection model systems 
  • Novel early detection technology development
  • Translational/clinical early detection research

 Areas of focus for the early detection of cancer research

This is new funding, specifically for early detection. We are showing our commitment to this important new area of cancer research, which we hope will bring rewards that change the field forever.

Dr Ian Walker, Director of Clinical, Population and Early Detection Research

The new funding schemes will open for applications in July 2017, with the first call closing on the 26 September 2017. Further details will be shared in the next few weeks.

To make progress in this exciting area of research, we’re also collaborating with Oregon Health Science University’s (OSHU) Knight Cancer Institute to deliver the second annual Early Detection of Cancer Conference. The conference will be held in Cambridge (UK), 20 – 22 September 2017. Registration is now open, but places are limited.

To build on this collaborative conference, we’re developing a joint funding opportunity to support collaboration between UK-based and OHSU researchers. Details of this funding scheme will be announced in the coming months.

To discuss your ideas and find out more about suitable early detection research funding options, please contact [email protected].