Early Detection and Diagnosis Project Award

About this scheme

Key information

Career level
Early career researcher
Mid-career researcher
Established independent researcher
Non-clinical researcher
Final submission
Committee review
Funding period
Up to 4 years*
Funding amount
Up to £500k*
Early Detection and Diagnosis Project Awards fund science to drive transformational change in how and when early cancers and pre-cancerous states are diagnosed.

You should:

  • Have some postdoctoral experience or equivalent
  • Be scientists, clinicians or healthcare workers in UK universities, medical schools, hospitals, or research institutes

Multi-institutional proposals are welcome and awards can be held across institutions in the UK. Supporting roles (co-investigators/collaborators) from international and commercial organisations are welcome.

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.

Early Detection and Diagnosis Project Awards 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 early detection/diagnosis 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 early detection/diagnosis
  • Development and use of appropriate preclinical model systems
  • Early detection/diagnosis technology development
  • Non-confirmatory clinical trials of early detection/diagnostic technologies or approaches
  • Health systems research for early detection/diagnosis
  • Research into clinician behaviour and decision support for early detection/diagnosis
  • 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 early detection and diagnosis of cancer 

Early Detection and Diagnosis Project Awards may focus on any of these research areas, or any combination of them. All proposals should consider line-of-sight to clinical or population impact.

Early Detection and Diagnosis Project Awards are flexible in terms of duration and level of funding. Proposals may be at various stages of maturity dependent on technology readiness, novelty of the paradigm under investigation and availability of supporting data. Proposals should be composed and costed commensurately.

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 typically made up to £500k for up to 3 years, or 4 years when funding a PhD, and may be used to fund:

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

*The budgetary limit is indicative. Requests in excess of this should be discussed with the CRUK office before submission.

Cancer Research UK is also giving applicants of this funding scheme the opportunity to opt-in to a new multi-journal pilot project on Registered Reports

How to apply to this scheme

Overview of the application process

  1. It is strongly recommended that you contact the CRUK office for an informal and confidential discussion of your proposal before you begin an application. We will advise you on eligibility and check that your proposal is within remit. Please contact us at least 1 month and no later than 2 weeks before a submission deadline to help us best assist you.
  2. Submit your application through our online grants management system, Flexi-Grant. Your submission must be approved online by your Host Institution before the submission deadline.
  3. Your application will be sent to designated members of our Expert Review Panels (ERPs) for comments. You will be given the opportunity to provide a written response to the comments. The ERP will meet to consider your application, the comments, and your response to the comments, before they make a recommendation to the Committee. Your application will also be reviewed by our Patient and Public Involvement Review Panel.
  4. The Early Detection and Diagnosis Research Committee will make a final decision on funding.


 Application deadline  Committee decision
20 June 2024  November 2024


Before you begin your application

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 Early Detection and Diagnosis Research Committee's remit (being funded through other CRUK mechanisms), early detection and diagnosis 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 early detection and diagnosis research.

Applications will be judged based on:

  • Scientific excellence and innovation
  • Clear articulation of the challenge to be addressed
  • Cancer early detection and diagnosis 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 39%.

Does this scheme accept endorsements?

Yes. Academically-sponsored studies in receipt of educational grants and/or free tests from industry that are in remit to early detection/diagnosis can be submitted for CRUK endorsement. Please submit an expression of interest form to the CRUK office so that we can confirm your endorsement proposal is within remit in order to begin your application:  


Industry-sponsored trials cannot be reviewed under this scheme.

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

Find out more


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


More early detection research opportunities

Early detection research

Early detection of cancer is one of our top priorities and we have funding and other support to help you develop your early detection research, whether you're established in the field, early in your career, or applying your research to early detection for the first time.

Disability and accessibility support

We offer additional support for grant applicants and grant holders who are disabled or have a long-term health condition. 

More funding opportunities like this

We have a range of funding opportunities catering for a broad research community at all career stages and in any research field which can impact on earlier detection and diagnosis of cancer.

A new frontier for early detection research

Early Detection

We've made an ambitious commitment to invigorate early detection research by stimulating research interest, building capacity, forging new partnerships, and actively supporting a community for early detection research.

Early Detection Conference

Our annual Early Detection of Cancer Conference, held in partnership with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, provides the perfect opportunity to network and build new collaborations with experts from many different disciplines.