Policy relating to funding the salaries of investigators

1 Purpose 

This policy sets out Cancer Research UK’s (CRUK's) approach to funding the salaries of Investigators.

2. Scope

This policy applies to researchers and their Host Institutions that submit grant applications to, or are funded by, CRUK. 

3. Definitions

An Investigator is defined as:

  1. Lead Applicant – the principal investigator with an independent scientific career who is leading the work;
  2. Joint Lead Applicant – an additional principal investigator who is recognised with equal status as the Lead Applicant; or
  3. Co-Investigator – an individual who provides significant intellectual input to the research and who may be responsible for the day-to-day running of some of the work. For CRUK, this could include, but is not limited to, postdoctoral researchers and technology specialists providing significant intellectual input to grant writing and design and who are involved in the management of the project.

4. Key Points

4.1 CRUK's position on funding Investigator salaries

Cancer Research UK will not fund Investigator salaries except as per this Policy.

4.11 Cancer Research UK may consider providing the salary of:
a) one Investigator on a response mode project or primer grant if the Investigator meets all these criteria:

  1. is an early- to mid-career researcher as defined by Cancer Research UK’s Fellowships Competency Framework, specifically the career stage headings of Develop Independence or Establish Independence;
  2. is spending the majority of their time on this project (typically 80-100% of research time);
  3. has not previously had their salary provided as an Investigator on a CRUK project grant (ie the Investigator has not relied on this exception before. This clause does not apply if your salary was provided under a primer award);
  4. if successful, will not have an existing salary for the proposed duration of the award other than from a grant-funded position that would be relinquished;
  5. the Investigator only requests the salary for the duration of the award.


b) one Co-Investigator (that may include individuals as outlined in 3c above) or other senior researcher as Named Research Staff on a programme grant, again, only for the duration of the grant. In these cases, researchers will spend the majority of their time on the proposed research.

c) Co-Investigators on clinical studies run through Clinical Trial Units where the appointment is not already agreed as part of core funding for Clinical Trials Units as set out in Section 4.2.1 and where the salary is not already covered by other sources.

Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must be clearly linked to supporting the career of the Investigator. Applicants should contact the office before including such a request on a grant application.

4.1.2 CRUK may consider providing the salary of Investigators where it is necessary for a researcher’s time to be ‘bought out’ for them to contribute to the research and the time can be fully justified, e.g. NHS medical professionals. Note, however, that CRUK will not provide funding to ‘buy out’ or otherwise cover academic teaching time.

4.1.3 Host Institutions outside the UK may allocate their grant funds to Investigator salaries where, in Cancer Research UK’s view:

  1. it is standard practice in the Host Institution’s jurisdiction for Investigator salaries to be funded from response-mode research grants;
  2. the Investigator’s employment contract requires a contribution to their salary to be sourced from grants held by that individual.

4.1.3 Cancer Research UK supports flexible research careers and the Flexible Research Careers policies apply when considering providing the salaries of Investigators. 

4.2 Exclusions

  1. This Policy does not apply to:
    1. Core-funded institutes (CRUK Scotland Institute; CRUK Cambridge Institute; CRUK Manchester Institute; Francis Crick Institute, London);
    2. Cancer Research UK fellowship schemes other than Career Establishment Awards or Programme Foundation Awards;
    3. Investigators who are based at non-academic institutions;
    4. Appointments agreed as part of core funding for Centres or Clinical Trials Units; or
    5. Specific cases relating to strategic priority areas for Cancer Research UK.

4.3 Review

  1. The policy is effective from September 2023. The policy will be reviewed every two years and any changes will be approved by the Grants Management Policy Board.

5 Support & advice

For any queries about this policy please contact: policies@cancer.org.uk.

6 Related documents

For more information, please see the following linked documents:

CRUK’s Conditions of your Grant

Download a printable version of this policy

Funding for researchers