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, multi-disciplinary teams willing to take on the toughest challenges in cancer - providing the freedom to try novel approaches, at scale, in the pursuit of life changing discoveries.

In the first round, 9 teams were shortlisted from 56 entries. The generous support of partners and donors enabled 4 of these remarkable Grand Challenge teams to be funded.

An independent advisory panel have now set 8 new Grand Challenges and we've invited the world's top scientists to come together proposing novel ways to tackle them.

Applications for this round are now closed, and the shortlisted teams will be announced in February 2018. A third round of applications will open in 2019.


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

Nov 2018


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

Early 2019


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

Cancer's toughest challenges

In October the independent advisory panel set 8 Grand Challenges opening a call to the international, multidisciplinary research community.

Tissue Specificity Grand Challenge

Tissue Specificity 

Devise approaches to prevent or treat cancer based on mechanisms that determine tissue specificity of some cancer genes                                                                      

Cancer vaccinology Grand Challenge

Tumour Vaccinology

Create novel tumour vaccinology approaches that establish or enhance successful immune responses beyond what is revealed by current checkpoint therapy

Treatment Regimens Grand Challenge

Treatment Regimens

Define mechanistic rules for combinatorial treatments to overcome resistance and avoid toxicity


Dormancy Grand Challenge


Identify and target tumour cells that remain dormant for many years after seemingly effective treatment



Lethal non-lethal Grand Challenge

Lethal vs non-lethal 

Distinguish between lethal cancers which need treating, and non-lethal cancers that don’t


Deep Learning Grand Challenge

Artificial Intelligence 

Detect cancer earlier by interrogating medical and non-medical data sets using machine and deep-learning                                                                                        

Microbiota Grand Challenge


Improve treatment responses by manipulating the composition and status of the microbiota                                                                                 


Cancer Causes Grand Challenge

Cancer Causes

Determine the mechanisms that cause cancer without known mutagenesis, such as obesity, in order to devise novel interventions

Get in touch

lucy shaw

To discuss our Grand Challenge initiative please contact

Dr Lucy Shaw

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Support us

We receive no government funding for our research, so Grand Challenge is only possible thanks to people like you.

If you've been inspired to support our most ambitious funding scheme to date, you can donate today.

Text GRANDC to 70200 to donate £10

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