Clinical lead in early phase trials, James Spicer

Career background

James Spicer set up and now runs the Cancer Early Phase Trials programme at Guy’s and St Thomas’, and is clinical lead in the Clinical Research Facility at Guy’s Hospital. He co-leads the King’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre.

After a degree in biochemistry from the University of Oxford, James switched to medicine, training at Guy’s and St Thomas’, after which he did a PhD in cancer biology at the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

He is a member of the British Thoracic Oncology Group steering committee, and sits on our New Agents Committee and other national funding panels.

The application process

How do you decide which grants to apply for?

Read grant calls carefully. Don’t hesitate to make preliminary enquiries about you or your project’s eligibility; it may save a lot of work.

What are the most time-consuming steps in submitting a grant?

Writing the proposal involves the most work. But leave plenty of time for co-applicants and collaborators to have their input.

How do you deal with complex things, like costings and ethical approval?

Your institution will have a designated person/office to advise on costing your application. Involve them early.

The research

What makes a successful grant?

  • An application well-suited to the funder and specific call.
  • Clear statement of the problem/unmet need
  • Convincing & sufficient preliminary data, clearly presented.
  • A team of applicants who are demonstrably able to deliver the project/programme if funded.

Getting feedback from colleagues on your research proposal

Listen to and incorporate comments of your co-applicants and collaborators. Give senior colleagues a chance and enough tIme to read and comment on your draft application

Advice as a committee member

Word count limits are just that: an upper threshold, not a minimum requirement. No grant is unfunded as a result of saying it all, but too briefly

Ensure all figures are adequately described in their legend so that they are comprehensible when standing alone, and try to tell the background story using figures. Gantt charts are useful in describing a proposed programme of work, not only neatly summarising what you aim to do, but also the timescale. Use this as a reality check for yourself – is what you propose going to be achievable with the time and manpower available/requested?

Find out more about this funding

James' advice for new applicants

"Ensure all figures are adequately described in their legend so that they are comprehensible when standing alone, and try to tell the background story using figures..."

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