Radiation Research Network (Cancer Research UK RadNet) Centres of Excellence

About this scheme

Key information

Career level
Established independent researcher
Non-clinical researcher
Research area
Radiotherapy research
Cancer biology
Pre-clinical research
Biomarker research
Imaging research
Final submission
Committee review
Funding period
5 years
Funding amount
Up to £5 million per year
Funding Centres of Excellence that will support and deliver internationally leading radiation biology and oncology research as part of a national network.

Host institutions

This call is open to institutions that:

  • Are UK-based
  • Have a current and active programme(s) of research in, or relevant to, radiation biology and radiation oncology

Where Cancer Research UK has supported a multi-institution Major Centre, members are encouraged to submit a joint bid. Joint bids from multiple HIs will otherwise not be considered. Please note that each participating institution may only be involved in on one application.

Applicant teams

Applicant teams should involve discovery (non-clinical) and clinical scientists as required. We would anticipate that the strategic leadership team would typically be made up of a proposed CRUK RadNet Centre of Excellence Director (Lead Applicant), a number of named Co-Investigators and a Project Manager (not required to be in post at time of application).

Where UK-based individuals or locations external to the Centre of Excellence location will be essential for downstream delivery of impact they should be included as ‘Collaborators’. Collaborators should provide a letter of support outlining their proposed contribution to the activity. Where external to the applicant location, and not otherwise a CRUK RadNet Centre of Excellence, they will not be eligible to receive significant financial support through the call.

Scientific remit

As CRUK RadNet develops, we expect it to support impactful discovery, translational and clinical research of international standing, cover the full breadth of relevant scientific areas/themes, and address a broad range of disease indications including cancers of unmet need (lung, pancreatic, oesophageal and brain). We expect the network to be capable of conducting clinical trials across multiple radiotherapy treatment modalities in adult, teenage and young adult, and paediatric cancer.

Discovery research can include:

  • Biological response of tumour and non-malignant cells and tissues to radiation particles including investigation of response to different treatment approaches, mechanisms of radio-resistance, sensitivity, tolerance etc.
  • Influence of tumour subtype and the local microenvironment on the mechanisms of response to radiotherapy, resistance etc.
  • Influence of the baseline and activated immune response during radiotherapy and the mechanism governing its effect on efficacy, tolerability etc.
  • Development and validation of pre-clinical models for studying radiotherapy response, resistance and (long-term) toxicity.
  • Identification and validation of novel treatment opportunities or approaches including for novel drug-radiotherapy combinations.

Clinical research can include:

  • Identification and validation of improved approaches (predictive/surrogate biomarkers, artificial intelligence etc) to patient stratification, planning and personalisation of treatment including response to development of radio-resistance or late toxicity.
  • Optimisation of technology associated with delivery of radiotherapy e.g. refinement of PET or MRI imaging to account for anatomy, physiology, metastatic spread etc.
  • Design of more efficient or informative clinical trials e.g. incorporating of biomarker endpoints rather than retrospective sample analysis.
  • Hypothesis-driven combination trials of novel therapeutic approaches or combinations, such as DNA repair inhibitors or immunotherapy, with radiotherapy modalities1
1While CRUK RadNet funding can underpin applications for response-mode funding, the development and trialling (including operational trial delivery) of novel therapeutics/combinations will need to be (separately) secured via other funding mechanisms, see ‘What isn’t suitable for funding through this scheme’.

To encourage applications from institutions with distinct research interests and expertise, two types of Centre of Excellence can be applied for. We expect applications to be ambitious, build on local strengths, capabilities and existing CRUK investment, and leverage host institution support for maximum impact:

Tier Funding available Objective

Radiation Research Centre (RRC)

Up to £750,000 per year

Provide supportive infrastructure, capabilities and expertise that will underpin applications for substantial response-mode funding (programmes, trials etc) of an international standard.

Radiation Research Unit (RRU)

Up to £5 million per year

Integrate supportive infrastructure, capabilities and expertise with a critical mass of internationally recognised radiation researchers.

Once funded, RRUs and RRCs will need work together as CRUK RadNet to provide national leadership and vision and develop and grow the radiation research base within the UK. Dedicated funds (separate from funding to individual RRUs and RRCs) to support network activities, including co-ordination and training, will be allocated to the CRUK RadNet network at a future point.


What isn’t suitable for funding through this scheme

Funding via the CRUK RadNet initiative is intended to facilitate an increase in internationally competitive radiation research within the UK. We therefore expect that the funding available through the initiative will support novel activity and will not substitute for existing funding already being used to support research(ers), infrastructure (including Clinical Trial Unit funding) or replace applications to response-mode schemes.

Radiation Research Network funding is not intended to directly support activities under the remit of the our Drug Discovery Committee, Clinical Research Committee or New Agents Committee, such as development of novel therapeutic drugs or (delivery of) clinical trials. Seed/pump priming of activities to support or enable future applications for response-mode funding would be a suitable use of CRUK RadNet funds.

How to apply to this scheme

Application process overview

  1. Contact us to discuss your eligibility and the suitability of your proposal.
  2. If suitable, we will open an application form in our electronic Grants Management System.


19 November 2018

Open for applications

31 January 2019

Application deadline

11-12 April 2019

Funding committee meeting

May 2019

Applicants informed of funding decision

Before you begin your application

You must read:

Individual Centres of Excellence will support a critical mass of high quality research within a wider network of pre-clinical and clinical infrastructure, acting as a multiplier to attract further funding. They will be expected to: 

  • Have an ambitious vision and strong committed leadership
  • Build on local strengths, capabilities and existing CRUK investment
  • Leverage host institution support
  • Have, or develop, cutting-edge pre-clinical and/or clinical radiation research-focused infrastructure
  • Have, and seek to build, critical mass in radiation research

Applications are assessed by an Expert Review Panel. Final funding decisions will be made by our Scientific Executive Board.

Cancer Research UK contact details

Alex Pemberton

Head of Therapeutic Discovery Funding  


Our strategy for radiation research

RadNet is part of a broader response to recommendations made by an independent strategic review of how CRUK should support radiobiology and radiation oncology research in the future.