Programme Foundation Awards

About this scheme

Key information

Career level
Mid-career researcher
Established independent researcher
Non-clinical researcher
Research area
Biomarker research
Radiotherapy research
Early diagnosis
Pre-clinical research
Imaging research
Cancer biology
Preliminary submission
Final submission
Committee review
Funding period
6 years, or part-time equivalent
Funding amount
Up to £1.5 million
Success rate
46% in 2016/17 How this is calculated
This allows excellent cancer researchers with typically 8-14 years’ experience post-PhD to establish or further develop their independent research group.

Applicants should:

  • Be the sole Lead Applicant (PI)
  • Have a full-time post at a UK University which is committed to provide your full salary for the duration of the award
  • Have typically between eight and fourteen years’ postdoctoral research experience at the time of submitting your preliminary application1 

Applicants should not concurrently hold a CRUK-funded Fellowship or Career Establishment Award, or a Group Leader position at a CRUK core-funded Institute. Please contact the office for advice on when to apply for funding if you are the holder of a CRUK Fellowship or a Career Establishment Award.

On completion of a Programme Foundation Awards, researchers are expected to be in a competitive position to apply for a Science Committee Programme Award.

If you are unsure of your eligibility for the Programme Foundation Award, please contact the office.

Scientific remit

Applications are judged on the basis of scientific excellence, innovation and importance to furthering our understanding of cancer or potential benefits to cancer patients. Programme Foundation Award applications will be considered in the following areas:

  • Basic biological research relating to cancer
  • Preclinical studies that will generate biological data to underpin therapeutic development
  • Biomarker research
  • Imaging research
  • Radiotherapy research
  • The application of engineering and physical sciences to cancer

For more specific details of research supported by Programme Foundation Awards, please refer to the scheme guidelines.

1We exercise flexibility in our eligibility criteria, taking into account individual circumstances, in particular career breaks and time spent outside research. If you’ve taken leave as a caregiver, that period of leave plus up to an additional 1 year will be factored in when considering eligibility and evaluating research experience. Find out more in our flexible funding policies and contact us to discuss your circumstances.


Funding support is provided for:

  • Salaries for postdoctoral researchers and technician
  • PhD student (stipend, fees and running expenses)
  • Associated running expenses
  • Equipment

We're very supportive of part-time working and for a Programme Foundation Award we expect at least 0.5 FTE or 80% of your working hours, whichever is greater, to be spent on academic research. Find out more about how we support part-time working and extended leave in our flexible working policies.

Additional support

Our fellowship and equivalent awards offer a range of benefits beyond funding, including access to networking and training opportunities, flexible working policies and an accelerated route through the Tier 1 visa system.

How to apply to this scheme

Overview of the application process

Applications for Programme Foundation Awards are considered twice a year and follow a two-stage process:

  1. Outline application: You'll need to submit an outline application which the Science Committee will use to decide whether to invite you to submit a full application to a subsequent meeting. You should contact the office at least two months before the submission deadline to discuss the process and to open an online application form.
  2. Full application: If you're invited to make a full application, you can submit this to either one of the next two full application deadlines.
  3. Interview: You'll be invited to an interview with an Expert Review Panel who will make funding recommendations to the Science Committee.​

All full applications must be made through our electronic Grants Management System (eGMS), where one PI must assume the responsibility of named Lead Applicant.


Outline application deadline

Full application deadline*

Interview dates

Committee review

22 February 2018

07 June 2018

September/October 2018

November 2018

22 August 2018

06 December 2018

February/March 2019

May 2019

* If your outline application is approved, you can choose to submit by either of the two subsequent full application deadlines.

Before you begin your application

1. Please ensure you read the following documents: 

2. Applicants must contact the office to discuss their eligibility and suitability of their research proposal in advance of submitting an application (contact information below)


The Science Committee will judge your application on:

  • Scientific excellence: you must have a strong scientific rationale, as well as appropriate experimental design and statistical analyses, to support the proposed research proposal.
  • Cancer relevance: your proposed work must have value in advancing the fundamental understanding of cancer or improving how cancer is diagnosed and/or treated.
  • Track record: you and/or your team members should have an excellent track record and potential to produce outstanding results.
  • Excellent team and collaborative environment: suitability and feasibility of the Lead Applicant(s) (and supporting roles) to carry out the proposed research with access to the resources and facilities required for the successful fulfilment of the award. The added value of any proposed collaboration and the individual contributions, as well as the steps taken to ensure an effective collaboration.
  • Resources requested: the costs you can request in an application should be for the direct costs of the research and must be reasonably justified in line with the experimental plans, leveraging existing resources where appropriate.

The Committee will also consider how closely your research aligns with the priorities laid out in our Research Strategy, including earlier detection and harder-to-treat cancers (brain, lung, oesophageal and pancreatic cancers).

Applications are assessed by international peer review and Expert Review Panel. Final funding decisions are made by the Science Committee.

Cancer Research UK contact details

You must contact a funding manager for this scheme to discuss you proposal before starting your application.

Applications from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and North East England

Maurice Darding

Dr Maurice Darding - Research Funding Manager

Tel: 020 3469 8780



Applications from Yorkshire, North West England and South West England

Please email and your email will be directed.

Alternatively, call Matt Ashenden on the number below.


Applications from Cambridge, Essex and East Anglia

Matt AshendenDr Matt Ashenden - Senior Research Funding Manager

Tel: 020 3469 8082



Applications from London

Lisa Schardt

Dr Lisa Schardt - Research Funding Manager

Tel: 020 3469 8846



Applications from all other locations

Dr Siru Virtanen

Dr Siru Virtanen - Research Funding Manager

Tel: 020 3469 8766



More career development opportunities

Research Careers

We offer a range of fellowships, bursaries and other support to help outstanding scientists and clinicians develop their independent research careers.

Case study

GFP-labelled tumour cells invading normal brain along blood vessels

Dr Simona Parinello is using Programme Foundation Award funding to explore new avenues for her research and realise her ambition to focus on glioblastoma.