Programme Foundation Awards

About this scheme

Key information

Career level
Mid-career researcher
Established independent researcher
Non-clinical researcher
Research area
Biomarker research
Radiotherapy research
Early diagnosis
Pre-clinical research
Imaging research
Cancer biology
Preliminary submission
Final submission
Committee review
Funding period
6 years, or part-time equivalent
Funding amount
Up to £1.5 million
Success rate
30% in 2017/18 How this is calculated
Supports group leaders who have a salaried independent position to further develop their own research programme and build their reputation as a world leader.

You should:

  • Be the sole Lead Applicant (PI)
  • Have a full-time post at a UK University which is committed to provide your full salary for the duration of the award
  • Be able to demonstrate that you meet the range of skills and experience as outlined in the ‘transition to scientific leadership’ career stage in our Fellowships Competency Framework

You should not concurrently hold a CRUK-funded Fellowship or Career Establishment Award, or a Group Leader position at a CRUK core-funded Institute. Please contact us for advice on when to apply for funding if you hold a CRUK Fellowship or a Career Establishment Award.

On completion of a Programme Foundation Award, you are expected to be in a competitive position to apply for a Science Committee Programme Award.

Career breaks, flexible working, changes in discipline and other personal circumstances will be taken into consideration when assessing your record of outputs, research achievements and career progression.

If you are unsure of your eligibility for the Programme Foundation Award, please contact us.


Scientific remit

Programme Foundation Awards can fund:

  • Basic biological research relating to cancer
  • Preclinical studies that will generate biological data to underpin therapeutic development
  • Biomarker research
  • Imaging research
  • Radiotherapy research
  • The application of engineering and physical sciences to cancer

For more specific details of research supported by Programme Foundation Awards, please refer to the scheme guidelines.


Funding support is provided for:

  • Salaries for postdoctoral researchers and technician
  • PhD student (stipend, fees and running expenses)
  • Associated running expenses
  • Equipment

We're very supportive of part-time working and for a Programme Foundation Award we expect at least 0.5 FTE or 80% of your working hours, whichever is greater, to be spent on academic research. Find out more about how we support part-time working and extended leave in our flexible working policies.

Additional support

Our fellowship and equivalent awards offer a range of benefits beyond funding, including access to networking and training opportunities, flexible working policies and an accelerated route through the Tier 1 visa system.

How to apply to this scheme

​Overview of the application process

Applications for Programme Foundation Awards are considered twice a year and follow a 3-stage process:

  1. Outline application: You'll need to submit an outline application which the Science Committee will use to decide whether to invite you to submit a full application to a subsequent meeting. You should contact the office at least two months before the submission deadline to discuss the process and to open an online application form.
  2. Full application: If you're invited to make a full application, you can submit this to either one of the next two full application deadlines.
  3. Interview: You'll be invited to an interview with an Expert Review Panel who will make funding recommendations to the Science Committee.​

All full applications must be made through our electronic Grants Management System (eGMS), where one PI must assume the responsibility of named Lead Applicant.


Outline application deadline

Full application deadline


Committee review

20 February 2020

8 December 2020

February/March 2021

May 2021

20 August 2020

8 December 2020

February/March 2021

May 2021

* If your outline application is approved, you can choose to submit by either of the two subsequent full application deadlines.

Before you begin your application

1. Please ensure you read the following documents: 

2. You must contact the office to discuss your eligibility and suitability of your research proposal before submitting an application.


The Science Committee will judge your application on the basis of scientific excellence, innovation and importance to furthering our understanding of cancer or potential benefits to cancer patients.

  • Scientific excellence: you must have a strong scientific rationale, as well as appropriate experimental design and statistical analyses, to support the proposed research proposal.
  • Cancer relevance: your proposed work must have value in advancing the fundamental understanding of cancer or improving how cancer is diagnosed and/or treated.
  • Track record: you and/or your team members should have an excellent track record and potential to produce outstanding results.
  • Excellent team and collaborative environment: suitability and feasibility of the Lead Applicant(s) (and supporting roles) to carry out the proposed research with access to the resources and facilities required for the successful fulfilment of the award. The added value of any proposed collaboration and the individual contributions, as well as the steps taken to ensure an effective collaboration.
  • Resources requested: the costs you can request in an application should be for the direct costs of the research and must be reasonably justified in line with the experimental plans, leveraging existing resources where appropriate.

The Committee will also consider how closely your research aligns with the priorities laid out in our Research Strategy, including earlier detection and harder-to-treat cancers (brain, lung, oesophageal and pancreatic cancers).

Applications are assessed by international peer review and Expert Review Panel. Final funding decisions are made by the Science Committee.

Cancer Research UK contact details

​You must contact a funding manager for this scheme to discuss you proposal before starting your application.

Applications from Cambridge, London (excl. UCL and QMUL) and Scotland

Dr Clemency Jolly - Research Grants Manager

Tel: 020 3469 8379


Applications from the North of England, the Midlands, Oxford, QMUL, UCL and Northern Ireland

Dr Iva Trenevska - Research Grants Manager

Tel: 020 3469 5257


Applications from the South of England, Nottingham, and Wales 

Wesley Gilchrist - Research Grants Manager

Tel: 020 3469 8931






More career development opportunities for researchers

Research Career Development

We offer a range of fellowships, bursaries and other support to help outstanding scientists and clinicians develop their independent research careers.

Case study


Dr Emma Harris explains how her application demonstrated the skills and experience we expect of researchers at this point in their careers, and why a Programme Foundation Award was the right fit for her to quickly translate her research to the clinic.

Case study

GFP-labelled tumour cells invading normal brain along blood vessels

Dr Simona Parrinello is using Programme Foundation Award funding to explore new avenues for her research and realise her ambition to focus on glioblastoma.