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
Funding amount
Up to £1.5 million
Success rate
46% in 2016/17 How this is calculated
This allows excellent cancer researchers with 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 between eight and fourteen years’ postdoctoral research experience  at the time of submitting your preliminary application

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

Research areas

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.

Funding support provided for

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

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.

Science Committee

Our funding schemes award money raised through our charity fundraising, including, for translational research, by Stand Up To Cancer UK.

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. We advise you to contact the office at least two months prior to the submission deadline to discuss the process and be given access to an online application form.
  2. Full application: If you're invited to submit a full application, you can do so straightaway or wait until the next funding call. 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

23 February 2018

07 June 2018

September/October 2018

November 2018

07 August 2018

Late 2018 (TBC)

Early 2019 (TBC)

Spring 2019 (TBC)

Please note that 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)


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 and Cambridge

gemma balmerDr Gemma Balmer – Senior Research Funding Manager

Tel: 020 3469 6125



Applications from London, Essex and Southampton

Dr Susana Sequeira, Research Funding ManagerDr Susana Sequeira – Research Funding Manager

Tel: 020 3469 8963



Applications from Yorkshire and North-East England

Dr Richard Muscat

Dr Richard Muscat - Research Funding Manager

Tel: 020 3469 5446



Applications from all other locations


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.