Therapeutic Catalyst

About this scheme

Key information

Career level
Established independent researcher
Non-clinical researcher
Research area
Drug discovery
Pre-clinical research
Cancer prevention
Cancer biology
Funding period
Up to 18 months
Funding amount
Up to £250k per project
The Therapeutic Catalyst will accelerate the translation of laboratory discoveries into novel cancer therapeutics. Deadline: Open (until awarded)

Applications for funding are welcome from academic researchers with novel insights into cancer biology that may be targeted therapeutically to treat cancer, whatever the disease type or modality.

We are seeking drug discovery proposals, including, but not limited to:

  • Deconvolution and validation of novel targets and pathways with clear therapeutic potential
  • Novel therapeutic approaches to validated targets
  • Development of platforms, assays and screens to identify novel cancer therapeutics or targets

What is not in remit?

  • Target identification proposals based solely on the use of gene silencing or editing methods in commercially available tumour cell lines
  • Preclinical development studies to initiate clinical trials (e.g. bulk synthesis/manufacture to GMP, toxicology to GCP)
  • Biological studies to identify new potential therapeutic targets or exploratory studies to uncover underpinning mechanisms of resistance to therapies, novel therapeutic combinations and drug repositioning/repurposing approaches – we would, however, be open to discussing such proposals and provide input on these plans before submitting to our discovery science funding schemes


Our Therapeutic Catalyst is designed to support exploratory drug discovery efforts to validate and de-risk targets and technologies and position them for onward investment and progression. As a researcher, it means that you have the potential to take your idea from bench to patients with a single funder and partner.

The new funding opportunity is driven by our desire to improve and increase the therapeutic options available to cancer patients. The Therapeutic Catalyst will be a collaborative partnership between the researcher and Cancer Research Horizons, utilising the expertise of both to accelerate early therapeutic opportunities. Cancer Research Horizons is CRUK's powerful innovation engine, developed to support preclinical therapeutic discovery and development and accelerate research translation.

Successful projects will receive up to £250k for up to 18 months.

Funded projects will run collaboratively between academic labs and Cancer Research Horizons drug discovery experts, with joint decision making and accountability for project progression. Cancer Research Horizons will cover all direct research costs associated with the project. This includes all resource requirements within Cancer Research Horizons drug discovery laboratories and externally. Academic funding can be provided for staff time (research or technical) and any associated running expenses.

All projects will receive expertise, resource and capabilities from across CRUK and our wider investigator network. If appropriate, our Cancer Research Horizons Commercial Partnerships team will work with you to identify and engage with potential commercial partners or other options to accelerate the project to patients.

From the proposal stage and throughout the life of the project you will be assigned a Cancer Research Horizons Therapeutic Discovery Project Lead. The Therapeutic Discovery Project Lead will be a drug discovery expert who will work with you to build and pitch the proposal, bring significant know how to the project and provide you with a single point of contact who will manage all the internal (Cancer Research Horizons drug discovery) and external resources required to deliver the project.

Committee Review: On-going

How to apply to this scheme

If you are interested in our Therapeutic Catalyst, please complete our Expression of Interest form

Alternatively, please contact our Therapeutic Discovery Project Leaders, who will be happy to discuss your project and help with the application process.

Contact Us

Expressions of Interest that are invited to submit an application will be assigned a Therapeutic Discovery Project Leader to work with you to create a collaborative, costed and milestone-driven project proposal.

Successful applications will be based upon high impact scientific discoveries that have the potential to impact the lives of cancer patients. The proposed project will be nimble, aiming to deliver results within an 18-month window that will validate the hypothesis and position the project for onward investment. Successful applications will be fully collaborative in nature, making the most of expertise based in Cancer Research Horizons drug discovery laboratories, other partners and the academic researcher's own lab.

Applications will be reviewed every two months by a cross-functional committee of drug discovery experts. The committee will assess the scientific pedigree, feasibility and patient benefit potential of the proposal.

Therapeutic Discovery Project Leaders team

Disability and accessibility support

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