Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team

Pancreatic cancer is notoriously hard to treat and survival remains low. That's why we've made a significant investment to accelerate progress against this devastating disease. Our bold approach does something that conventional science funding is not set up to do.


Why we formed this partnership

In November 2015 we joined forces with Stand up To Cancer (SU2C) and the Lustgarten Foundation to invest a total of £8 million into the formation of an international Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team.

The transatlantic collaboration maximises the creativity and innovation by bringing together some of the world’s top pancreatic cancer researchers who have never before worked together. This unique model brings together expertise, enthusiasm and scientific knowledge from across the globe, with the ultimate aim of translating the research into the clinic and providing real patient benefit. The creation of the Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team supports our strategic approach of helping our scientists make connections and enabling collaborative working that will stimulate new thinking and allow faster progress.


It has been the most electric and exciting collaboration I’ve ever taken part in. I get to work with all these wonderful people doing things that I wouldn’t have been able to do myself.

—Professor Gerard Evan, CRUK ‘Dream Team’ co-leader, Cambridge University.


The dream team initiated its ground-breaking translation work at the beginning of 2016 and aims to revolutionise our understanding of pancreatic cancer and in turn find innovative ways of treating the disease.


Driving progress in pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is notoriously hard to treat and survival remains low. We have made pancreatic cancer a strategic priority and we are committed to driving progress for this cancer with substantial unmet need. Since the launch of our Research Strategy we have attracted more of the best and brightest scientific minds to this cause and there is now huge amount of interest in pancreatic cancer.


Contact us

We're on hand to discuss your ideas, to answer any questions you might have and to provide advice on applying.

Dr Karen Noble
Head of Research Careers and Cancers Of Unmet Need

Summary of the science

The Dream Team, and other researchers, have uncovered gene networks in pancreatic tumours that are similar to those in injured tissues – where repair and regenerative mechanisms are essential to restore  normal function. Unlike the normal system of wound healing that has a shut-off mechanism, in tumours the process remains on, “hijacked” to constantly drive growth. The Dream Team believes that Super Enhancers (SEs) control the biological machinery. They are developing new approaches to reset the malfunctioning SEs in pancreatic tumours thereby dialling-up the sensitivity to chemotherapy and anti-cancer immune cells.

Meet the New SU2C Pancreatic Dream Team


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The Dream Team are taking a three-pronged approach:

  1. Using cutting-edge technology to identify pancreatic tumour SE hot-spots so that they can understand the biological “hacking” of normal wound-healing regenerative processes.

  2. Seeking to understand how SEs allow cancer cells to obtain nutrients from nearby normal cells, while at the same time avoiding detection by the immune system.

  3. Initiating clinical trials in pancreatic cancer with a new class of SE-targeted drugs that are geared to enhance chemotherapy and revitalize the immune response.

Overall, they want to improve survival of pancreatic cancer patients by aiming to more than double one-year survival rates. They hope their research will also help to maintain remission in people who have responded to treatment and extend and enhance the lives of people with pancreatic cancer.

Be part of changing the future for pancreatic cancer

We offer a range of funding opportunities at all career stages, and across the research pipeline, and we’ll prioritise funding for projects of sufficient scientific quality that focus on cancers of the pancreas, brain, lung and oesophagus.

Tackling hard-to-treat cancers

Illustration of brain

Improving the quality and quantity of research into cancers with the poorest survival rates, including brain and pancreatic cancers, remains a key priority across all aspects of our research activity.