Early Detection Research Committee

Early detection research seeks to enable the detection of cancer, or pre-cancerous states, at the earliest possible time point at which an intervention might be made.

The Early Detection Research Committee is responsible for the oversight, development, review, funding and management of a portfolio of research Programmes and Projects which include discovery and validation of signatures of early cancer, and development of the technologies to enable this. These signatures may detect and also underpin prognosis/stratification/prediction of response to therapy and/or prevention.

Research can involve discovery, pre-clinical and/or clinical/translational science which is mindful of the clinical and population context. The Committee will meet twice per year.

Funding schemes

Early Detection Project Awards support and encourage specific research projects that aim to have a significant impact on how and when cancer is detected.

Deadline: 16 January 2018  

Early Detection Programme Awards support and encourage established researchers to perform large, integrated and renewable research programmes which have the potential to transform early cancer detection.

Deadline: 15 February 2018  

CRUK-OHSU Spark Awards provides seed funding for research in collaboration with Oregon Health and Sciences University scientists to support development of new partnerships and novel lines of enquiry

Deadline: 16 January 2018  

CRUK-OHSU Project Awards funds new and existing collaborations in early detection between researchers in the UK and at Oregon Health and Sciences University.

Deadline: 16 January 2018  

Research areas

Biological research underpinning early detection and biomarker discovery and validation, including but not limited to:

  • Basic cellular and molecular science around the earliest transformational events pushing a cell from normal to at-risk to dysregulated to cancerous, thereby suggesting potential early detection markers to be explored
  • ‘Omics for early detection: high throughput, high dimensional data research in markers for early detection, including proteomics, metabolomics, lipidomics, genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics
  • Basic biology and detection of circulating cellular and nucleic acid markers for early detection of cancer or pre-disease, e.g. ctDNA, CTCs, exosomes, RNAs
  • Studies may include the use of model systems, such as model organisms, cell lines, organoids and xenografts, or primary human samples

Human-based early detection discovery research, including but not limited to:

  • Biomarker discovery and validation in early-stage disease (and pre-cancerous state) patients
  • Biomarker discovery and validation in healthy volunteers
  • Exploitation of existing cohorts and biobanks

Epidemiology and risk stratification for early detection, including but not limited to:

  • Understanding of markers of risk and early disease at a population level
  • Stratification of populations by risk to identify and exploit high-risk groups as populations for early detection research, and as appropriate clinical contexts for development of screening technologies.

Data and computation-driven approaches to early detection, including but not limited to:

  • Biomedical and health informatics: computational high dimensional data analytics for interpretation of potential early detection marker profiles; analysis and integration of (multimodal) data arising from e.g. genomics, proteomics, imaging, e-health records, patient/public-derived data (personal activity monitors etc.)
  • Computational and systems biology: computational and mathematical modelling of complex networks and systems to understand normal, pre-cancer and early cancer biology. Modelling of the interaction within and between complex biological systems to facilitate early detection and prediction of implications of markers (e.g. distinguishing lethal from dormant disease).

Development and utilisation of preclinical early detection model systems (e.g. cellular, organoid, xenograft, animal model) to recapitulate early cancer and precancerous states, including but not limited to:

  • Creation and characterisation of new model systems
  • Use of model systems to probe and understand early events leading from normal cellular function through to cancer
  • Use of model systems to identify potential early detection markers for future clinical validation
  • Use of models systems as platforms for development of early detection technologies

Early detection technology development – exploratory and translational research, including but not limited to:

  • Imaging: progressive research into advanced imaging technologies for cancer detection. Novel modalities, novel probes, novel contrast agents etc.
  • Circulating marker detection technology: enhancement of sensitivity/specificity of detection technologies for ultra-low concentration circulating markers e.g. cells, DNA, proteins, exosomes
  • Advanced detection technologies (nanotech, photonics, synthetic markers etc.): engineering and physical science to enable novel methods of detection of very low-concentration markers

Translational and clinical early detection research: experimental work in patients and healthy volunteers around development and validation of early detection approaches and technologies.

How proposals are judged

For Early Detection Project Awards, a full application should be submitted online, which will be sent out for international peer-review. Applicants will be invited to submit a written response to reviewers’ comments.  The application, review comments and response will be examined by the Early Detection Research Committee and a decision will be made.

For Early Detection Programme Awards, an outline should be submitted online for review by members of the Early Detection Research Committee. The Committee will invite some applicants to submit a full application online, which will be sent out for international peer-review. The application and review comments will be examined by the Early Detection Research Committee, and the applicant will have an opportunity to present their proposal to the Committee and answer any questions they may have. Following this, a decision will be made by the Early Detection Research Committee.


Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian – Cambridge University


Professor Molly Stevens - Imperial College London


Dr Peter  Kuhn - University of Southern California

Professor Mark Arends - University of Edinburgh

Mr Billy Boyle - Owlstone Medical

Sir Mike Brady - University of Oxford

Professor George Hanna - Imperial College London

Professor Sam Janes - University College London

Professor Klaus Pantel - University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE)

Professor Tony Ng - Kings College London

Professor Katherine  Vallis - University of Oxford

Dr Sangeeta Bhatia - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr Lisa Coussens - Oregon Health and Science University

Dr Christina Curtis - Stanford University


Contact us


Dr David Crosby


Dr David Crosby

Head of Early Detection Research

Tel +44 (0) 20 3469 6086


Dr Alexis Webb


Dr Alexis Webb

Senior Research Funding Manager

Tel +44 (0) 20 3469 5232


Elizabeth Smethurst


Elizabeth Smethurst

Research Funding Manager

Tel +44 (0) 20 3469 6763

Early Detection Conference

Our annual Early Detection of Cancer Conference, held in partnership with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, provides the perfect opportunity to network and build new collaborations with experts from many different disciplines.

A new frontier for early detection research

Early Detection

We've made an ambitious commitment to invigorate early detection research by stimulating research interest, building capacity, forging new partnerships, and actively supporting a community for early detection research.

Join a committee or panel

Science Committee Meeting

We welcome expressions of interest from leading scientists, clinicians and health policy specialists who are interested in joining our community of committee and panel members.

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