Cancer Research UK on Google+ Cancer Research UK on Facebook Cancer Research UK on Twitter

Biomarker Project Grants

Project grant applications in biomarker research will be assessed by the Biomarker Expert Review Panel, a sub-panel of the Science Committee. Applications will be considered covering research in all types of biomarkers (predisposition, screening, diagnostic, prognostic, predictive, pharmacological and surrogate response) using invasive (i.e., surgical specimens or biofluids) and imaging technologies (i.e., MRI, CT, PET, SPECT, other nuclear medicine methods, ultrasound or optical).

Highlights and Calls

The Panel is keen to support studies that include, or build upon, the validation of biomarkers with steps taken to qualify their use in the clinical setting.  Studies utilising pre-existing sample collections will be prioritised.  In addition, applications with a focus on brain, oesophageal, lung and pancreatic cancer are particularly welcomed as these have been identified as cancers of unmnet clinical need and are an area of strategic priority for Cancer Research UK.

The Biomarker Expert Review Panel will also be launching a series of specific Research Highlight calls. The Highlights will run alongside the broader remit of the Panel with the aim of encouraging applications in specific areas of biomarker research. The following three areas of interest have been identified and the Highlight calls will be staggered over three panel deadlines:

  • The qualification or further development of response (predictive) or safety biomarkers for conventional cytotoxics including radiation using validated assays. The biomarkers should be biologically relevant, not associative and should be candidates requiring further validation prior to implementation, rather than new biomarker discovery.  2nd December 2013 deadline
  • Early detection biomarkers.  May 2014 deadline
  • Circulating biomarkers – cells and nucleic acids (proteomics excluded).  November 2014 deadline
Please note that the Biomarker Expert Review Panel pays close attention to the following criteria when considering applications: The scientific and clinical basis of the study, the appropriateness of clinical samples and assays, the expertise and scale of the team involved, and the statistical plans built into the proposal.

To ensure that the above criteria are met, please refer to the following additional information before applying to this scheme:

  • The biomarker project application guidelines - for a description of the Panel remit, biomarker definitions, guidance on completing the application form, and further information on the key criteria.
  • Biomarker roadmaps (diagnostic, pharmacological, prognostic/predictive or screening) - for a schematic representation of the different projects supported.  You will need to refer to the roadmaps when completing the application form.

What is covered

In addition to the Highlights above, Project grants will be accepted in any of the following areas:

1. Biomarker discovery
Proposed studies should be focused on the discovery/development of biomarker(s) for application on clinical material and not on understanding the biology of the disease. Projects will be considered that include: a) the definition of distribution of biomarker levels in a limited number of specimens, and; b) the retrospective study of the relationship between the biomarker and clinical outcome.

2. Biomarker assay development projects
Proposed studies may be conducted separately from the early assay set-up during the biomarker discovery stage or from the validation of the assay for use on clinical material. Please note that:

  • Cell lines may be used during the initial stage of assay development, but it is expected that the assay will be transferred to human samples during the project.
  • The project application should not involve reagent generation – it is expected that this will have been completed before submission.

3. Biomarker qualification
Proposed studies may include the prospective study of the correlation between the biomarker and clinical outcome.

4. Imaging discovery and evaluation projects
Proposed studies may include all whole-body preclinical and clinical imaging studies, some development of imaging agents, contrast agents and other imaging technologies.


Applications will be accepted from scientists, clinicians or healthcare workers in UK universities, medical schools, hospitals and some research institutions.

Period of funding

There is no minimum or maximum duration; this should be driven by the research. However, projects have a typical duration of 36 months and are not generally longer than 60 months.

Funding value

There is no minimum or maximum award value; this should be driven by the research. However, applications typically do not exceed £100,000 per annum.

How to apply

Applications must be submitted via our electronic Grants Management System (eGMS). See How to Apply for more information on submitting your application via eGMS. Please note that applications are only fully submitted to Cancer Research UK once approved by your host institution administrators.

For details of what is expected in a biomarker project grant application, and assistance with completing your application, please refer to the Guidelines for preparing a Science Committee biomarker project grant (PDF, 452KB).

Please note that applications that do not contain the information required, or which are not within the remit of the scheme, will be returned and may be withdrawn. If you are unsure whether your project is appropriate for this scheme, please contact the Science Committee team.

Submission deadlines

Preliminary submissions Final submissions Committee review
N/A 19 May 2014 Sep 2014
N/A 10 Nov 2014 Mar 2015

Additional notes

Contact us

Please contact the committee secretariat for more details:

Other details

Review committee:
For enquiries related to this funding scheme, please contact:
Updated: 4 October 2012