Biotherapeutic Drug Discovery Programme Awards

About this scheme

Key information

Career level
Established independent researcher
Non-clinical researcher
Research area
Drug discovery
Pre-clinical research
Preliminary submission
Final submission
Committee review
Funding period
Up to 5 years
Funding amount
Up to £2.5m
This funding scheme aims to increase the availability of biotherapeutic drugs for the management of cancer.

This scheme funds translational research projects at all stages of drug discovery, from target and pathway identification and validation, through to early preclinical studies. Awards can support early stage translational research with a clear pathway towards further biotherapeutic development.

Examples of eligible studies are:

  • Validation of a novel target or pathway as a potential biotherapeutic drug target
  • The generation and pre-clinical testing of new biotherapeutic drug candidates
  • Re-positioning clinically validated biotherapeutic drugs in new oncology indications 
  • Validation of novel combinations of biotherapeutic drugs or combinations of biotherapeutics with small molecule drugs (or other therapeutic modalities) in oncology indications
  • Application of novel technologies to improve the efficacy of biotherapeutic drugs

This scheme does not fund preclinical development studies required for the initiation of clinical studies, including bulk synthesis/manufacture to GMP or toxicology to GCP. 

Eligible biotherapeutics include, but are not limited to:

  • Therapeutic antibodies
  • Cell based therapies
  • Viral therapies
  • Vaccines
  • Protein therapies
  • Gene therapies

Applications are accepted from scientists, clinicians or health care workers in UK universities, medical schools, hospitals and some research institutions. We are willing to support collaborative projects between academic and a commercial partners if appropriate.

Awards typically fund up to £2.5 million for up to 5 years, covering:

  • Salaries of postdoctoral researchers and clinical or technical staff with associated running expenses
  • PhD student stipends and fees
  • Equipment up to £50,000 if specifically required for the project

CRUK-MedImmune Alliance Laboratory

Successful applicants will also have the opportunity to access the CRUK-MedImmune Alliance Laboratory (CMAL). CMAL provides access to MedImmune’s proprietary phage display library, and can support antibody production. Applicants wishing to access the CMAL should include this in their application.

If you are already a CRUK-funded scientist, you can apply directly to access the CMAL.

How to apply to this scheme

Application process

Applications are considered once a year and follow a two-stage process:

  1. Outline application: you must submit a four page outline application, which will be reviewed by the Biotherapeutic Expert Review Panel prior to being invited to submit a full application
  2. Full application: if successful you will be invited to submit a full application. All applications will be subject to external peer review, and you will be asked to attend interview with the Biotherapeutic Expert Review Panel.

Renewing applicants are not required to submit an outline application.

All applications must be made through our electronic Grants Management System (eGMS).

Outline application deadline

Full application deadline

Interview dates

Committee decision

06 December 2018

05 March 2019

07/08 May 2019

June 2019

Before you begin your application

Applications are assessed on their potential to develop a new preventative or therapeutic approach – the outputs of funded research should provide information that will significantly contribute to the development and eventual clinical testing of a medicine to deliver on an unmet medical need in oncology.

Applications should include a project plan that charts a route to develop the findings, including specific achievable milestones and endpoints.

Applications are assessed by the Biotherapeutics Expert Review Panel (BTERP). Final funding decisions are made by the Drug Discovery Committee (DDC).

Cancer Research UK contact details

Dr Joo-Hee Sir

Research Funding Manager

Tel: +44 (0) 203 469 8668

Our drug discovery infrastructure

To support our investigator-led drug discovery research we have made extensive investment in infrastructure for biotherapeutic and small molecule drug discovery.

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Where next for cancer immunotherapy?

We're driving discovery research in immuno-oncology which is leading to novel and exciting immunotherapeutic possibilities.

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