Early Detection 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 Project Awards fund exceptional science to drive a transformational change in how and when early cancers and pre-cancerous states are detected.

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-applicants/collaborators) from international and commercial organisations are welcome.

Scientific remit

Early detection (EDx) research seeks to identify cancer or pre-cancerous states at the earliest possible point at which an intervention might be made. such signals will detect, but may also underpin prognosis/stratification/prediction of response to therapy and prevention. EDx projects will support discovery and translational/clinical research which is mindful of the clinical and population context.

EDx operates across the full pathway of disease development: detecting events from the earliest changes suggesting initiation, to dysregulated growth, promotion to pre-neoplastic states/lesions, malignant conversion, and tumour progression. Each of these stages provide an opportunity to detect a shift in state, and ultimately to intervene to improve survival. EDx can also be applied post-therapy, to detect recurrence at the earliest possible point.

The remit of these awards includes:

  • Biological research underpinning early detection and biomarker discovery and validation
  • Human-based EDx discovery research
  • Epidemiology and risk stratification for EDx (to inform populations for targeted research or screening)
  • Data and computation-driven approaches to EDx
  • Development and utilization of preclinical EDx model systems
  • EDx technology development
  • Translational and clinical EDx research

EDx projects 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.  

EDx projects 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.


Out of remit

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

  • Research which does not have any line-of-sight to impact on early detection – this may be eligible for our discovery research funding opportunities.
  • Early diagnosis research which seeks to understand the role of patient and healthcare professional behaviour and the healthcare system, and to develop interventions in a population or clinical context – this may be eligible for our population research funding opportunities.

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 office before submission.

How to apply to this scheme

Application Process

  1. We stongly recommend you contact the Early Detection office for an informal and confidential discussion of your proposal. We will advise you on eligibility, remit and funding options.
  2. Submit your application through our online grants management system (eGMS). Your final application must be approved online by your host institution.
  3. Your application will be considered by the Early Detection Committee.

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


Application deadline Committee decision

20 June 2019

November 2019

28 November 2019

May 2020

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 EDx programme (being funded through other CRUK mechanisms), EDx 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 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 EDx 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?

Cancer Research UK contact details

For applications in basic science and models of early cancer

Dr Alexis Webb

Dr Alexis Webb

Senior Research Funding Manager


Tel: +44 (0) 20 3469 5232


For applications in imaging, liquid biopsy, diagnostics and translational/clinical implementation


Picture coming soonDr Ana Lopez

Research Funding Manager


Tel: +44 (0) 20 3469 5691

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