Early Detection and Diagnosis Programme Award

About this scheme

Key information

Career level
Established independent researcher
Non-clinical researcher
Preliminary submission
Committee review
Funding period
Up to 5 years
Funding amount
Up to £2.5 million
Funds long-term, integrated and renewable programmes of exceptional science to transform how and when early cancers and pre-cancerous states are diagnosed

You must be:

  • A scientist, clinician or healthcare worker
  • Based at a UK university, medical school, hospital, CRUK Institute or other research institution for the duration of the award
  • Able to demonstrate extensive postdoctoral experience and ability to successfully run an independent research group

Scientific remit

Early detection and diagnosis (ED&D) research seeks to detect and diagnose consequential precancerous changes and cancer at the earliest possible point at which an intervention might be made, reducing the burden of late-stage disease.

ED&D programmes will support discovery and translational/clinical research which is mindful of the clinical and population context.

The remit of these awards includes:

  • Identification and validation of ED&D markers and understanding of disease trajectory
  • Identification of high-risk groups for early detection and diagnosis research and implementation
  • Data and computation-driven approaches to ED&D
  • Development and use of appropriate preclinical model systems
  • ED&D technology development
  • Non-confirmatory clinical trials of early detection/diagnostic technologies or approaches
  • Health systems research for ED&D
  • Research into clinician behaviour and decision support for ED&D
  • Evaluation of impact of early detection and diagnosis policies and interventions
  • Research to understand and intervene in the behaviour of the public to enhance early detection and diagnosis
  • Research into the health economics of ED&D of cancer 

Programme Awards provide long-term support for broad, ambitious, multi-stranded programmes where the various work streams coordinate and integrate to address a central theme, asking an interrelated set of questions. They aim to encourage the research community to think bigger.

While the programme will have defined objectives, the expectation is that not all the questions will necessarily be conclusively answered within the tenure of the award, hence the opportunity for renewal of the programme. Parts of the programme may be a continuation of current activity; other elements should start new lines of enquiry.

We particularly welcome applications that bring novel approaches from the fields of engineering and the physical sciences that could be applied to cancer detection and are mindful of potential clinical need, patient and population impact. As part of CRUK’s longstanding strategic partnership with the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), there is an opportunity for any successful applications with relevant research components in these areas to be jointly supported by both CRUK and the EPSRC.


Out of remit

Proposals for research in these fields are likely to be ineligible for this funding scheme:

If you are unsure which funding scheme is most appropriate for your research, please get in touch to discuss your proposal.


Awards are made up to £2.5 million for up to 5 years, and can be used to fund:

  • Postdoctoral researchers
  • PhD students (stipend, fees and running expenses)
  • Technical staff
  • Running expenses
  • Equipment

The award can not be used to fund the salary of the Principal Investigator.

How to apply to this scheme

Application process

  1. You have the option to contact the Early Detection and Diagnosis office for an informal and confidential discussion of your proposal. We will advise you on eligibility and funding options (this is not compulsory, but it is strongly recommended prior to outline submission).

  2. Submit an outline application. You'll need to submit an outline application which the ED&D Committee will use to decide whether to invite you to submit a full application. We advise you to contact the office at least one month prior to the outline submission deadline to discuss the process and suitability. If you're a renewing applicant, you do not need to complete this stage.

  3. If successful, you will be invited to submit a full application which will be peer-reviewed by experts and you will have the opportunity to respond to comments. You can submit your full proposal to the next deadline, or the deadline thereafter.

All applications must be made online through our online grant management system, Flexi-Grant, and your final application must be approved online by your host institution.

Before you begin your application

Please ensure you read:


Whichever stage of research the proposal addresses, from discovery to applied, proposals should have a clear line-of-sight to clinical/population impact, and should articulate this pathway and the evidence that will be required to advance along it.  Implementation of this clinical line of sight may be either during or downstream of the proposed work (it is not mandatory for all proposals to include a direct translational component).  Appropriate involvement of clinical/population expertise to ensure this line-of-sight is encouraged.

While therapeutic development is not covered by the ED&D programme (being funded through other CRUK mechanisms), ED&D research should acknowledge and account for the importance of therapeutics as context, and to help inform understanding of when surveillance is more appropriate than intervention.

Teams of applicants should be assembled to adequately consider these issues, involving collaboration between e.g. biologists, clinical researchers, engineers/physical scientists, maths/stats/computation expertise, population scientists, health economists, behavioural scientists and industry (as appropriate to the proposal).  Multidisciplinary, overseas and industrial collaboration is encouraged when appropriate to the science proposed, and where clear added value can be articulated.

Applicants are encouraged to make use of existing cohorts and tissue banks as resources for ED&D research.

Applications will be judged based on:

  • Scientific excellence and innovation
  • Clear articulation of the challenge to be addressed
  • Cancer early detection relevance
  • Clarity of line-of-sight to clinical/population impact
  • Team composition: are the requisite skillsets to deliver the proposed work and achieve impact in place? Do any collaborations between disciplines, institutions or with industry add value to the project?
  • Is the required infrastructure in place to deliver the proposed research?

The 5 year rolling success rate (financial year 2017-2022) from application to funding for this scheme is 20%.

We prioritise funding for projects of sufficient scientific quality that focus on cancers of the brain, lung, pancreas and oesophagus.

Cancer Research UK contact details

Please contact the relevant Research Grants Manager if you have questions about your eligibility or require any assistance with your application or active award.

For London and The South of England (including Oxford and Cambridge) 

Ms Sara Castro

Research Grants Manager


For the rest of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Ms Emily Friar

Research Grants Manager



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