Grand Challenge

Cancer Research UK's Grand Challenge is the most ambitious cancer research grant in the world: a series of £20m awards seeking international, multidisciplinary teams willing to take on the toughest challenges in cancer, and providing the freedom to try novel approaches, at scale, in the pursuit of life changing discoveries.

Round three will open later in 2019; if you think you have what it takes to tackle a grand challenge, we want to hear from you. 

Each round, our independent advisory panel sets new challenges, opening a call for bold ideas that could benefit from the freedom and support of this ambitious award.

Over two rounds, we have now funded seven exceptional teams, who have taken on challenges from mapping tumours at every level to devising treatment approaches based on tissue specificity. 

12 Oct 2017

Express Interest

Collaborators open their application outlining their proposed team and approach

Feb 2018


Expressions of interest are reviewed and selected teams receive seed-funding to develop full applications

May 2018

Full Application

Shortlisted teams submit full applications and are interviewed by the independent advisory panel

Jan 2019


Winning teams awarded up to £20 million over 5 years to conduct their pioneering research

Late 2019


New inputs are sought to help inform the next round of Grand Challenge

2019 funded teams

Understanding why cancers grow in some tissues and not in others

Professor Elledge's team want to generate a comprehensive map of cancer drivers and their specificity to different tissues. This has the potential to improve our basic understanding of cancer, and provide information that will impact therapeutic choices for patients.

A new way to tackle inflammation-associated cancer

Professor Tlsty's team want to find novel ways of treating cancer that has been caused by inflammation, and develop new options to prevent cancer developing in high-risk patients with chronic inflammatory diseases.

Manipulating the microbiome to beat bowel cancer

Professors Meyerson and Garrett's team want to discover exactly how certain microbes inside the body lead to cancer development and influence a patient’s response to treatment.  

Our partners

Grand Challenge is funded through the generosity of supporters and our partners. In the first round we partnered with the Dutch Cancer Society to co-fund the Grand Challenge team led by Prof. Jelle Wesseling. We are excited to announce that this round we are partnering with The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research to co-fund Prof. Steve Elledge's Grand Challenge team. 

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  • Get in touch

    lucy shaw


    To discuss the Grand Challenge initiative please contact

    Dr Jess Sutcliffe

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