Early Detection Project Award

About this scheme

Key information

Career level
Early career researcher
Mid-career researcher
Established independent researcher
Non-clinical researcher
Final submission
Funding period
Up to 4 years*
Funding amount
Up to £500k*
Early Detection Project Awards fund exceptional science to drive a transformational change in how and when early cancers and pre-cancerous states are detected.

You should:

  • Have at least three years’ postdoctoral experience or equivalent
  • Be scientists, clinicians or healthcare workers in UK universities, medical schools, hospitals,  CRUK Institutes or other research institutions.

Multi-institutional proposals are welcome and awards can be held across institutions in the UK. Supporting roles (co-applicants/collaborators) from international and commercial organisations are welcome.

Scientific remit

Early detection (EDx) research seeks to identify cancer or pre-cancerous states at the earliest possible point at which an intervention might be made. such signals will detect, but may also underpin prognosis/stratification/prediction of response to therapy and prevention. EDx projects will support discovery and translational/clinical research which is mindful of the clinical and population context.

We know that the chances of survival increase significantly for almost all patient groups if cancer is detected and treated at an early stage. EDx research offers the potential for transformational improvements in patient outcomes and will be essential in making progress towards our vision of 3 in 4 patients surviving the disease by 2034.

EDx operates across the full pathway of disease development: detecting events from the earliest changes suggesting initiation, to dysregulated growth, promotion to pre-neoplastic states/lesions, malignant conversion, and tumour progression. Each of these stages provide an opportunity to detect a shift in state, and ultimately to intervene to improve survival. Early detection can also be applied post-therapy, to detect recurrence at the earliest possible point.

The remit of these awards includes:

  • Biological research underpinning early detection and biomarker discovery and validation
  • Human-based EDx discovery research
  • Epidemiology and risk stratification for EDx (to inform populations for targeted research or screening)
  • Data and computation-driven approaches to EDx
  • Development and utilization of preclinical EDx model systems
  • EDx technology development
  • Translational and clinical EDx research

Find out more detail about the scientific remit here or in the Application Guidelines

EDx projects may focus on any of these research areas, or any combination of them. All proposals should consider line-of-sight to clinical or population impact.  

EDx projects are flexible in terms of duration and level of funding. Proposals may be at various stages of maturity dependent on technology readiness, novelty of the paradigm under investigation and availability of supporting data. Proposals should be composed and costed commensurately.

Awards are typically made up to £500k for up to 3 years, or 4 years when funding a PhD, and may be used to fund:

  • Postdoctoral researchers
  • PhD students (stipend, fees and running expenses)
  • Technical staff
  • Associated running expenses
  • Equipment

*The budgetary limit is indicative. Requests in excess of this should be discussed with the office before submission.

Cancer Research UK contact details

Dr Alexis Webb

Dr Alexis Webb

Senior Research Funding Manager


Tel: +44 (0) 20 3469 5232


Elizabeth Smethurst

Research Funding Manager


Tel: +44 (0) 20 3469 6763

How to apply to this scheme

Application Process

  1. You have the option to contact the Early Detection office for an informal and confidential discussion of your proposal. We will advise you on eligibility and funding options (this is not compulsory, but it is recommended).

  2. Submit an application, which will be peer-reviewed by experts. You will have the opportunity to respond to reviewers’ comments.

  3. Your application will be considered by the Early Detection Research Committee.

All applications must be made online through our online grant management system, eGMS, and your final application must be approved online by your host institution.



Committee review

26 September 2017

January 2018

16 January 2018

May 2018 (date TBC)

June 2018 (date TBC)

Nov 2018 (date TBC)

Before you begin your application

Please ensure you read:

Whichever stage of research the proposal addresses, from discovery to applied, proposals should have a clear line-of-sight to clinical/population impact, and should articulate this pathway and the evidence that will be required to advance along it.  Implementation of this clinical line of sight may be either during or downstream of the proposed work (it is not mandatory for all proposals to include a direct translational component).  Appropriate involvement of clinical/population expertise to ensure this line-of-sight is encouraged.

While therapeutic development is not covered by the EDx programme (being funded through other CRUK mechanisms), EDx research should acknowledge and account for the importance of therapeutics as context, and to help inform understanding of when surveillance is more appropriate than intervention.

Teams of applicants should be assembled to adequately consider these issues, involving collaboration between e.g. biologists, clinical researchers, engineers/physical scientists, maths/stats/computation expertise, population scientists and industry (as appropriate to the proposal).  Multidisciplinary, overseas and industrial collaboration is encouraged when appropriate to the science proposed, and where clear added value can be articulated.

Applicants are encouraged to make use of existing cohorts and tissue banks as resources for EDx research.

Applications will be judged based on:

  • Scientific excellence and innovation
  • Clear articulation of the challenge to be addressed
  • Cancer early detection relevance
  • Clarity of line-of-sight to clinical/population impact
  • Team composition; are the requisite skillsets to deliver the proposed work and achieve impact in place?  Do any collaborations between disciplines, institutions or with industry add value to the project?
  • Is the required infrastructure in place to deliver the proposed research?

Similar funding schemes

CRUK-OHSU Project Awards​

Funds new and existing collaborations in early detection between researchers in the UK and at Oregon Health and Sciences University.


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.

CRUK-OHSU Spark Award

Seed funding for research in collaboration with Oregon Health and Sciences University scientists to support development of new partnerships and novel lines of enquiry

More funding opportunities like this

We have a range of funding opportunities catering for a broad research community at all career stages and in any research field which can impact on earlier detection and diagnosis of cancer.

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.

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.

Share this page