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New scientific partnership between UK and France to tackle greatest challenges in cancer

Jacob Smith
by Jacob Smith | News

27 September 2023

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The flags of the UK and France flying side by side
Shutterstock - Mikalai Kachanovich

Yesterday, Cancer Research UK and France’s Institut National Du Cancer (INCa) announced a new scientific partnership to help fund world-class researchers to take on cancer’s toughest challenges through the global Cancer Grand Challenges initiative.  

INCa’s €10m (£8.6m) investment in Cancer Grand Challenges will further expand the international reach of the initiative, bringing on board France’s foremost cancer research institute to take on cancer’s biggest challenges and deliver transformational research. 

INCa is the first partner to pledge funds to support multiple teams in a single round of Cancer Grand Challenges, alongside the initiative’s original founding partners, Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Insitute (NCI) in the US*. 

“With funding partners from the UK, USA, Spain, the Netherlands and now France, Cancer Grand Challenges is growing, ever steadily into a global leader in scientific collaboration and vital cancer research,” said David Scott, Director of Cancer Grand Challenges. 

“INCa’s participation in Cancer Grand Challenges brings an exciting new opportunity for us to accelerate scientific discoveries and innovation on a scale which could not be achieved by the actions of one individual country or research institution alone.    

“Through the support of INCa and Cancer Research UK’s other global partners, our international teams will be given the freedom to think differently, act creatively and take on some of the toughest challenges in cancer.” 

About Cancer Grand Challenges 

Cancer Grand Challenges was founded in 2020 by two of the largest funders of cancer research in the world – Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the US.  

The ambition is to build a scientifically elite, interdisciplinary community who can fill in some of our biggest knowledge gaps in cancer and drive the progress we urgently need.  

There are currently 12 shortlisted teams each competing for the chance to secure up to £20m for their global research projects in the latest round of challenges. Winning teams will be announced to the world in March 2024.  

Cancer Grand Challenges brings together diverse international organisations, collaborators and research leaders who share its mission. These include the Scientific Foundation of the Spanish Association Against Cancer, the Dutch Cancer Society, and The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research. To date, more than £210m has been invested in the Cancer Grand Challenges initiative, reflecting a shared commitment to supporting innovative, cross-disciplinary efforts to advance cancer research.  

“Cancers with a poor prognosis are a major public health challenge which we need to address with the kind of breakthrough science that Cancer Grand Challenges supports through the mobilisation of world-class investigators and teams,” said Professor Norbert Ifrah, CEO and Thierry Breton, Director General of the French National Cancer Institute. 

“We’ve seen science reach new frontiers through comparable initiatives in the world of physics, and cancer research is now on the verge of experiencing a similar evolution.  

“INCa is fully committed to international scientific collaborations in cancer research, as part of our 10-year cancer control strategy. This major partnership between INCa and Cancer Research UK strengthens the Institute’s global actions in the fight against cancer.” 

“Separately, in May this year, we also joined the G7 Cancer initiative** alongside 6 of the most advanced international organisations who are fighting the disease.” 

*The National Cancer Institute leads the NIH’s efforts to dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. The National Cancer Institute’s contributions to Cancer Grand Challenges are fully funded by the U.S. government.

**G7 Cancer officially launched on May 9. Bringing together the organisations at the forefront of the fight against cancer, this group aims to strengthen cooperation between partners to accelerate the fight against the disease, and in particular to address the most complex challenges. At the first meeting, which was held at May 9, the organisations’ representatives signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set the cooperation framework. The G7 partner organisations are: Cancer Australia; Canadian Institute of Health Research; National Cancer Institute, France; German Cancer Research Center; National Cancer Center, Japan; Cancer Research UK; US Department of Health and Human Services, National Cancer Institute. 


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