Develop the cancer leaders of tomorrow: our research strategy

Research Careers

The UK is an outstanding environment for training and nurturing the cancer researchers of the future. Through its existing and new awards along the career pathway, Cancer Research UK is leading the way in researcher development, providing an essential platform for future progress.

Professor Margaret Frame, Director, CRUK Edinburgh Centre


Our approach

Support researchers at all career stages

We're committed to supporting researchers at all career stages. Alongside financial support, we engage with our researchers, providing development opportunities and peer group networking meetings.

Increase capacity in areas of critical need

We recognise there are specific areas where we need to build capacity:

  • We have a substantial deficit of clinician scientists and will find ways to attract, develop and retain more clinicians in research. We're expanding our Clinical PhD and Clinician Scientist Fellowship programmes, with new schemes to close funding gaps during clinical research career development.
  • There is a mathematical skills gap, both in a lack of trained specialists and broader understanding across the community. Through our Centres we're developing this area.
  • There is also a critical gap in molecular pathology skills in the UK, which will become more acute as genomic analysis of patient samples becomes routine. This gap transcends different diseases and we are working closely with other funders to address it.

Recruit world leaders to accelerate progress in priority areas

Strong leadership is a critical success factor for any research location or area of research. We need to grow our existing pool of outstanding individuals to support the ambitions of this strategy. We are supporting academic locations in the UK to recruit the very best senior leaders from elsewhere in the world, enabling them to realise their research visions.

Launch a new funding scheme to support mid-career researchers

We've launched a new funding scheme to close a gap in our programmatic support for mid-career scientists. Our new awards support multi-year funding, with the expectation that successful applicants will go on to compete effectively for full programme grants.

Ensure open access and research integrity

We expect our research community to work to the highest standards. We are committed to ensuring all publications from CRUK-funded researchers are made freely available, either through open-access journals or through self-archiving, to ensure that the results of research can be disseminated as quickly as possible.

We will ensure the continued transparency and integrity of research results, establishing robust processes to audit and review research findings. We are a supporter of Universities UK’s Concordant to Support Research Integrity and are committed to its principles. We have clear guidelines for scientific conduct which embody our expectations for maintaining rigour and integrity in all aspects of research. In particular, we expect the highest standards of reproducibility and require that host institutions have a designated research integrity officer, a documented internal integrity policy and appropriate training for PhD students.

We are also committed to transparent reporting of trial results. A condition of our funding is that all trial results, including negative results, are published in a timely manner.



Opportunities for your research

Dr Sergio Quezada with students at the 2015 Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence Conference
We have a broad range of funding opportunities and other support to help the leaders of tomorrow develop their research careers.





Our progress

In our 2017 Progress Report, we review how we are accelerating research to achieve our ambitions, and the successes we have had so far. We've built on our strengths and continued to bring new perspectives into cancer research

We've launched eight new funding schemes to stimulate priority areas of research, and these have so far allocated over £140 million. We've more than doubled our spend on cancers with substantial unmet need, to £86 million in 2016/17. And we've invested across our UK-wide network of infrastructure, building capacity at our Centres and launching the new Francis Crick Institute, so that we continue to support an outstanding environment for research.



Explore more of our Research Strategy

Our full Research Strategy, launched in 2014, sets out our principles of people, partnership and collaboration, and the approaches we will take in delivering our objectives.

Browse our Research Strategy highlights  

Download the full Research Strategy (PDF)

We will build our understanding of cancer

We need to deepen our understanding of the interplay of genes, proteins and the role of the immune system in cancer development and growth.

We will facilitate a major shift in early diagnosis research

Several approaches will contribute to earlier diagnosis, from behavioural and epidemiological studies, to biomedical research for early detection. 

We will accelerate the translation of research

Our investment in research will only achieve our objectives if it can be translated into interventions that benefit patients.

Tackle cancers with substantial unmet need

With survival rates that haven’t changed significantly for decades, cancers of the brain, lung, oesophagus and pancreas are notoriously difficult to treat.