How clinical trials are funded

This page tells you about funding for clinical research in the UK. It has information about         

Who funds research in the UK

Cancer research in the UK is funded by drug companies, charities and the Government.

What funding covers

It costs a lot of money to fund clinical trials. Research costs that have to be covered include

  • Treatments
  • Research staff to run the trial and collect the data
  • Staff and computer technology to analyse the results
  • Administrative costs – paperwork, overseeing the protocol, data collection and production of results
  • Cost of extra tests or hospital stays for patients taking part

The money for tests and costs of hospital stays often comes from the government.

The NHS covers the costs of trials that are part of the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network's portfolio of clinical trials.

If a drug company is running the trial, they have to pay the hospital for the costs of tests and patient stays.

Drug companies

Pharmaceutical companies fund a large amount of cancer research in the UK. Companies run their own trials looking at drugs they have developed. They also sometimes give a grant or supply the drug free of charge for trials run by other organisations.


Many charities in the UK fund cancer research. Cancer Research UK is the single largest funder of cancer research in the UK.

Many charities fund UK research into treatment for specific cancers. For example

  • Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research
  • Breakthrough Breast Cancer
  • The Brain Tumour Charity
  • Myeloma UK
  • Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

You can read about clinical trial organisations.


The Government currently funds health related research through organisations such as the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

They also help to coordinate cancer research nationally through the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI).

International trials

Some trials that are recruiting patients in the UK are international trials. They may be run by organisations outside the UK, such as

  • The European Organisation for Research and Treatment for Cancer (EORTC)
  • American organisations like the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

​Related information

Clinical trial organisations

What are clinical trials

​Find a clinical trial

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Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Find a trial

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