Our research strategy
- Our Vision
- Early Diagnosis Research
- Cancers of Unmet Need
- Basic Understanding of Cancer
- Develop Future Leaders
- Cancer Prevention
- Therapeutic Innovation
- Precision Medicine
- Accelerate Translation
- Encourage Collaboration
- New Funding Schemes
OUR RESEARCH STRATEGY IS
BOLD AND AMBITIOUS
Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
Over the last 40 years, cancer survival rates in the UK have doubled. In the 1970s just a quarter of people survived. Today that figure is half.
Our ambition is to accelerate progress and see three quarters of patients surviving the disease within the next 20 years.
This requires us to set an ambitious new agenda for cancer research and substantially increase our investment. Our Research Strategy, launched in 2014, outlines how we will pioneer new approaches and bringing new disciplines to bear on the cancer problem.
EARLY DIAGNOSIS RESEARCH
We will substantially increase our investment to support the earlier diagnosis of cancer, investing over £20M a year in this area by 2019OUR AMBITION
Diagnosing cancer at an earlier stage offers the greatest potential for transformational improvements in patient outcomes. Investment in early diagnosis research has been limited in the UK and internationally making this an important area of focus for the future.
10 year relative survival for colorectal cancers (%)*
Stage at diagnosis
*Source: The National Cancer Registration Service Eastern Office, Year of diagnosis 1996-2000
A patient diagnosed with stage I lung70%
cancer has overWHY?
CANCERS OF UNMET NEED
We will dramatically increase our effort in lung, pancreatic, oesophageal cancers and brain tumours, increasing our investment two- to threefold over the next five yearsOUR AMBITION
Survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years, but progress has not advanced equally for all forms of the disease. Outcomes for Lung, pancreatic, oesophageal cancers and brain tumours have improved little in the past decade, making focusing on these cancers a key priority for the years ahead.
Lung cancer is responsible for1 in 5
Rare cancers make up1/5
10 year net increase survival for selected cancers (%)HOW?WHY?
We are making targeted investments to build leadership, training and facilitate better networking to improve the quality and quantity of research into these cancers.
We are increasing the focus on lung, pancreatic, oesophageal cancers and brain tumours within our Centres and Institutes.
Target our investment
We are now prioritising these cancers within our existing funding streams to grow their competitive share of funding over time.
We're already funding one of the largest ever studies of lung cancer.
“I hope we will see the fastest developments in tumours that are hardest to treat and have shortest median survival, like advanced oesophageal cancer and lung cancers - a rapid turnaround of data and expansion of clinical trials available for these tumour types should provide measurable benefit quite quickly.”
Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK London Research Institute
In 2014, we established the Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence at the University of Manchester and UCL to build the capacity and quality of lung cancer research in the UK.
We plan to increase our research effort on childhood and youth cancers and in rare cancers. Although cancer in children is rare, it is still the most common cause of death.
BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF CANCER
We will continue to invest heavily to better understand what causes and drives cancer, including through the establishment of the Francis Crick InstituteOUR AMBITION
Investing in deepening our understanding of the disease is the only way to open up new opportunities to discover and develop new and better treatments.
In 2013 we spent around£130mWHY?
We will continue to invest a significant proportion of our overall budget to strengthen this area. We will support the investigation of fundamental processes where there is a clear link to tumour biology.
Francis Crick Institute
We are a founding partner in the Francis Crick Institute, which opened in 2016 to provide new multidiscipinary approaches to understand and tackle cancer in a world class setting.
We are developing our core-funded Institutes, enabling them to take a long-term approach to addressing the challenges in cancer research.
“We are proud to be a founding partner of the world-class centre for interdisciplinary medical sciences. The Francis Crick Institute will have the vision, scale and expertise to tackle challenging scientific questions underpinning cancer.”
Harpal S Kumar, CEO Cancer Research UK
We have significantly increased our response mode funding to discovery science by investing in our existing funding schemes and launching a series of new schemes.
Focus on immunology
We are increasing our investment in cancer immunology, taking steps to attract leading immunology researchers to work in the cancer field.
Develop future leaders
We will support and develop the very best researchers, at all stages of their careersOUR AMBITION
We need to ensure there is a wealth of highly-trained, world class researchers who can continue to work towards our vision of beating cancer.
Each year we spend over£35mWHY?
We will provide support at every career stage, training outstanding individuals and developing or recruiting the next generation of leaders in cancer research.
Invest in people
In 2015, we launched a new funding scheme to support mid-career scientists.
We will build capacity and train specialists in areas where there is a skills gap, such as molecular pathology and the application of mathematics to cancer.
“The UK is an outstanding environment for training and nurturing the cancer researchers of the future. Through its existing and new awards along the career pathway, Cancer Research UK is leading the way in researcher development, providing an essential platform for future progress.”
Professor Margaret Frame, Director Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre
Build clinical expertise
We will find ways to attract, develop and retain clinician scientists in cancer research.14
Support our researchers
We give support in the form of career advice, workshops and training events, providing development opportunities and peer group networking meetings.
We will increase our investment in prevention research, including a new centre to support long term reduction in cancer incidence and continued work on tobacco controlOUR AMBITION
More than 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the UK are attributed to lifestyle and environmental factors. Although we now understand the main preventable risk factors for the disease, achieving large-scale behaviour change remains a huge challenge that we need to address.
Number of cancers linked to lifestyle factors
Selected lifestyle factors estimated UK 2011
Source: Parkin, The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010, British Journal of Cancer (2011) 105, S2 – S5
Smoking, unhealthy diets, alcohol100,000
and excess weight together cause more thanWHY?
A key area of our strategy will involve bringing together epidemiology, health economics, and policy research to tackle the challenge of cancer prevention.
Tackle tobacco use
We will lead an ambitious and coordinated research agenda to reduce the number of people smoking and influence tobacco control on the global stage.
Reduce cancer risk
Working with experts from other fields, we design and evaluate novel interventions to change behaviour in key areas of cancer risk.
“We have a strong body of evidence on the key risk factors associated with cancer and the relative importance of different preventative interventions. Now we need to take full advantage of this insight, identifying new apparoaches to empower people to reduce their risk”
Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London
We support research that seeks to apply combined genetic, lifestyle and phenotypic markers to more accurately define risk in key populations, in order to develop targeted prevention or early detection strategies.
Invest across the board
With our Cancer Prevention Initiative we have launched new fellowships, seed funding for innovation and a virtual policy research centre in partnership with the BUPA Foundation.
Develop chemopreventive strategies
We will play a unique role in supporting the next generation of clinical and pre-clinical studies of aspirin and other chemopreventive agents.
We will continue to discover and develop new therapeutics, surgery and radiotherapy treatments, quickening the pace at which research is translated into patient benefitsOUR AMBITION
Cancer is a complex set of diseases and our approach to therapeutic innovation must therefore cover a breadth of modalities, including drugs, radiotherapy and surgery. New approaches that combine these treatments, could bring enormous benefits for patients.4 in 10
To deliver novel, more effective treatments we will support sophisticated new approaches, mechanisms and methods. As well as discovering and developing new drugs, we will continue to improve surgery and radiotherapy treatments.
Realise therapuetic potential
We are making significant investments in therapeutic discovery and development across all modalities, including small-molecule drugs and a range of biotherapeutic approaches.
Invest in radiotherapy
We will support continued growth in radiobiology and radiotherapy research.
“Our ambition in cancer drug development is to redefine how cancer is treated and to accelerate the delivery of the next generation of medicines to patients who need them. Academic research plays a critical role in this, with new models of interaction between academia and industry driving ever faster progress”
Dr Susan Galbraith, Astrazeneca
Develop surgical technology
We will continue to support innovation through surgery research.
Target the 'un-druggable'
We will support renewed efforts to find drugs against high-risk, high-potential targets that could benefit a broad range of patients.
We will optimise the chance of survival for every individual, through precision medicine approachesOUR AMBITION
Personalised medicine is increasingly recognised as the future of cancer therapy, but many questions remain to be answered before it can benefit therapeutic choices in real time.
We need to harness our understanding of howevery patient and their cancer is different
Tumour samples from9,000WHY?
We are taking practical steps towards a model where patient treatment decisions are made on an individual basis, both at the initiation of treatment and at the point of recurrence to make precision medicine a reality in the UK.
Understand tumour evolution
We are supporting research to understand and monitor how cancers evolve over time.
Invest in experimental medicine
We are supporting more experimental medicine studies through our network of ECMCs, Centres and through our extensive clinical trials portfolio.
“The biggest game changer I’ve seen in my 24 years in cancer research has been the development of targeted therapies. With the predictive biomarker in hand, you know if someone has a particular molecular defect in a tumour and you can say they have a very high chance of responding to a therapy.”
Caroline Dive, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute
We will ensure that the required capability and capacity to perform robust biomarker discovery and validation exists to translate the discovery of new biomarkers into changes in clinical practice.
We are building our understanding of how combination treatments could be used and which patients would benefit the most.
We will invest heavily in Centres as a world class network for the translation of cancer research for patient benefitOUR AMBITION
Our investment in research will only achieve our objectives if it can be translated into new therapeutics, diagnostics and approaches to treatment. Traditional barriers between clinical and basic research can be a barrier progress.
We will invest£100m
We currently support more than250WHY?
We will address a range of areas to support translation, including establishing the right leadership, forming effective partnerships and investing in access to technologies.
We will invest in our Centres in order to provide an excellent environment for multidisciplinary collaboration and to develop the capacity and infrastructure needed to support delivery of our strategy.
Our 15 Centres form a national network to deliver world-class research, improved patient care and greater local engagement.
Centres of excellence
We have built substantial capacity at selected Centres to enable them to make a step-change in their delivery of exceptional translational research.
“Through its network of cancer Centres across the UK, Cancer Research UK and its partners have created a world-leading model for the translation of new discoveries into patient benefit.”
David Livingston, Dana-Farber Center
We have increased trial funding via our Clinical Research Committee and New Agents Committee to ensure that we can support a broad portfolio of clinical research
We will encourage collaborative approaches, by increasing international partnership and involving non-traditional cancer disciplines, including engineering and physical sciencesOUR AMBITION
Solving the challenges of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment will require multidisciplinary collaboration, delivering innovation by bringing multiple perspectives to bear on the cancer challenge.
We support a UK-wide network of researchers and infrastructure to deliver world-class research including:WHY?
Networking across the UK and beyond will be critical to achieving maximum impact from our investment. We will further integrate our activity, continuing to build a highly functioning network for cancer research.
We have launched new funding schemes and increased support for networking, to foster greater levels of collaboration across the UK research community.
We will encourage non-traditional cancer disciplines, such as the engineering and physical sciences, to contribute to the cancer research effort.
“What excites me most about research is the integration of maths, computing, patient care and biology. Bringing all these disparate things together is challenging, but it is exciting to have all that information at your fingertips - I feel like I am learning every day”
Professor Andrew Biankin, Director of Translational Research Centre, University of Glasgow
We partner with international organisations and those in other countries, ensuring that cancer is tackled on the global stage.
Cancer Research UK offers many advantages to potential partners.
NEW FUNDING SCHEMES
We will significantly increase our investment through funding committees and will invest up to £50M a year in new funding schemesOUR AMBITION
In order to effectively meet our objectives we need to welcome new ideas and innovation. We need to remain flexible to respond to new opportunities and we need to nurture the development of the best minds to tackle these challenges.
We support more than4,000WHY?
We will invest in new funding schemes to support world-class research that will enable us to meet our ambitions.
Strengthen existing funding
We are significantly increasing investment in our existing funding schemes across all areas of the portfolio.
Invest in innovation
Our new Pioneer Award supports innovation, investing in new ideas and approaches to tackling cancer challenges.
“It is vital that we support every career stage and fund transformational areas of research, if we’re going to be able to tackle the major challenges in cancer research.”
Iain Foulkes, Executive Director Cancer Research UK
Our new Multidisciplinary Project Award stimulates collaborations between biomedical research and the engineering and physical sciences.
Address big questions
We initiated our largest ever funding scheme, the £20 million Grand Challenge, to support research into important, challenging questions where there is potential for a transformational impact on cancer.
Invest in people
Our new Programme Foundation Award supports mid-career researchers, to ensure we are able to support scientists at all career stages.
Boost immunology research
Our new Cancer Immunology Project Award builds interest in tumour immunology within the wider immunology research community.
We have launched a new award for our Centres, the Network Accelerator Award, to promote networking and provide infrastructure in strategic priority areas.