About Cancer Research UK's Grand Challenge
Grand Challenge is the most ambitious cancer research initiative in the world. It's a series of £20 million awards, given to teams willing to take on the toughest challenges in cancer. These awards give teams the freedom to try new approaches. And at a scale that's not possible with other funding routes.
Every 2 years we set new challenges for researchers to tackle. To help us shape the next round of Grand Challenge, we asked the international research community and people affected by cancer to tell us what they think are the greatest barriers to progress in cancer research.
Over the course of 5 months in 2019, we held challenge-setting workshops in Madrid, Milan, Edinburgh, London and Amsterdam. We also gathered challenge ideas from the international research community through our website.
Our Grand Challenge Advisory Panel, chaired by Sir Paul Nurse, will consider the results and select the next round of challenges.
We’ll reveal the next round of Grand Challenges in February 2020 – get ready to apply.
We seek input to help shape the next round of Grand Challenge.
Collaborators open their application outlining their proposed team and approach
Expressions of interest are reviewed and selected teams receive seed-funding to develop full applications
Shortlisted teams submit full applications and are interviewed by the independent advisory panel
Winning teams awarded up to £20 million over 5 years to conduct their pioneering research
What makes Grand Challenge different?
Grand Challenge is a unique approach to beating cancer sooner. We set challenges around the biggest barriers in cancer research. And the research community applies to tackle these in pursuit of life-changing discoveries.
If your application is successful, your team will receive up to £20 million over 5 years to tackle your chosen challenge.
But the toughest challenges in cancer research demand exceptional teamwork. That's why Grand Challenge is an international funding scheme, open to scientists from all countries and disciplines.
When you apply to take on a challenge, your application will be reviewed by world-leading scientists on our Grand Challenge Advisory Panel, along with people on our Grand Challenge Patient Advisory Panel.
We need the sharpest minds and the brightest ideas to overcome the biggest barriers to progress in cancer research. Which is why we only fund the best teams.
Applying to Grand Challenge
Grand Challenge gives you the freedom to explore cancer's toughest challenges and the support to try ground-breaking new approaches.
To be successful in getting funding, you'll need to build a multidisciplinary team that can bring fresh insights to the biggest challenges in cancer research.
We will open for applications in February 2020, when we reveal the next round of challenges.
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Grand Challenge so far
Grand Challenge is our flagship international funding initiative. It plays a key role in realising our vision to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
Since launching in 2015, we’ve funded 7 teams across 9 countries. This represents an investment of up to £130 million over the next 5 years. And we're already starting to see exciting results emerging from those teams.
Grand Challenge teams include some of the brightest minds from across the globe.
How are the Grand Challenges set?
We ask the international research community and people affected by cancer to help us shape new challenges.
We gather input through workshops and an open call on our website.
Our Grand Challenge Advisory Panel then reviews all the suggestions and sets the challenges.
What is the funding process?
We first ask you to submit an expression of interest to take on a challenge. This should outline your proposed approach and your team.
Our advisory panel review expressions of interest and shortlist teams with the greatest potential for impact.
We then give shortlisted teams seed-funding to network and develop full proposals. The panel will then interview them and make a funding recommendation.
Who reviews the applications?
Cancer's toughest challenges demand the world's sharpest minds.
Led by Nobel Prize-winner Sir Paul Nurse, the Grand Challenge Advisory Panel includes world-renowned cancer researchers, clinicians and behavioural scientists. Along with the Grand Challenge Patient Advisory Panel, they define the grand challenges, review applications, shortlist teams, and make funding recommendations.
What role do patients play in Grand Challenge?
At Cancer Research UK, we believe that research intended to benefit patients is made even better by involving people affected by cancer.
To bring this perspective to Grand Challenge, a group of patient representatives take part in ongoing consultations to shape the initiative. They review applications and work with funded teams to develop the patient involvement part of their research.
How do we work with partners?
Grand Challenge could not pursue such ground-breaking research without the generous support of our partners. We work with like-minded organisations and individuals to fund ambitious, large-scale research on a global scale. We welcome partnerships from across the academic, not-for-profit, government and private sectors to help us bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
The PRECISION team's ambitious aim to prevent unnecessary breast cancer treatment through research into pre-cancerous cells, is made possible through our partnership with the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF).
We're also proud to partner with the New York-based Mark Foundation for Cancer Research to fund the SPECIFICANCER team. The foundation’s multimillion-pound donation is supporting the team who are investigating the molecular mechanisms that underpin the tissue specificity of cancerous tumours.