Call for Director, Cancer Data Driven Detection

We’re looking to recruit a visionary Director to lead and shape the development of a proposal for our new Cancer Data Driven Detection (CD3) initiative.   

This is a national research initiative dedicated to using data to revolutionise our understanding of cancer risk and allow early detection of cancers.  

We’re leading the project with support from Health Data Research UK, The Alan Turing Institute and the Economic and Social Research Council’s Administrative Data Research UK programme. 

The position is offered at around 0.2FTE (including salary buy-out). Its purpose is to set up a research consortium, and to lead the development of a proposal with the possibility to access a multi-million pound budget. 

About this opportunity

If we are to beat cancer, early detection and diagnosis is the single most important and impactful goal we can have. Patients diagnosed early have the best chance of curative treatment and long-term survival. 

Our Early Detection and Diagnosis of Cancer Roadmap set out that at present we lack a deep understanding of who is most at risk of developing cancer and that addressing this would transform our ability to detect and prevent it. In addition to family history indicators and specific behavioural aspects (e.g., smoking activity, high sun exposure), there is significant scope to more meaningfully stratify the population based on risk of disease. Ever-increasing amounts of data are being collected and collated on individuals and populations. This creates a timely opportunity to develop methodologies that integrate these datasets and, through artificial intelligence, machine learning and other approaches, determine if signals can be found and validated that improve prediction of cancer risk.  If we are able to determine cancer risk accurately, we can target early detection and prevention efforts much more precisely. 

The CD3 initiative will be a discovery and translational research effort which will seek to integrate signals of cancer risk across various data modalities and controllers, for example data regarding an individual’s: 

  • genomic and biomarker/phenotypic information 

  • electronic health record data 

  • social and demographic data (e.g. ethnicity, address, socioeconomic status) 

  • behavioural data (for example smoking patterns, alcohol use, shopping behaviours) 

  • personal activity data (for example, resting heart rates, exercise, sleeping patterns)  

  • other data modalities identified as pertinent to cancer risk 

This programme is an exemplar of our Research Data Strategy and will demonstrate the value of taking a data-driven approach to cancer research. 

Earlier in 2022, Cancer Research UK held two scientific consultation workshops to road-test the CD3 concept and to garner expert input into it. This is the combined report of the output of these workshops, provided for information. 

About you

You will be a prominent non-clinical or clinical scientist with an international reputation for excellence. 

You will meet the following person specification:  

  • PhD science qualification or equivalent research experience 

  • Outstanding personal record in an applicable field (including but not limited to, cancer biology/genetics/risk, data science, epidemiology, health informatics, clinical/implementation science, etc.) 

  • Awareness of the breadth of data sources available to researchers to study the population (e.g., health and administrative datasets) 

  • Demonstrable experience or track record in delivering research programmes with significant budget and/or complexity, ideally across multiple disciplines 

  • Demonstrable experience of the development and delivery of science strategy 

  • Track record of working in close collaboration with and influencing senior scientists and clinicians, and other key decision makers 

  • Inspiring, compassionate, and inclusive leadership style, and effective people management and research facilitation skills 

  • Proven ability to communicate and engage with staff and associates at all levels  

  • Effective at working within complex environments with multiple stakeholders (including patients and public); strong partnership working skills and ethos and an ability to bring various parties together to collaborate effectively 

  • Strong presence, gravitas and political awareness 

Please check the job pack for the full person specification and for further details about the role. 

How to apply

Applications should include: 

1. A short covering letter explaining why this appointment and its responsibilities interest you and how you meet the essential/desirable criteria as detailed in the person specification. 

2. A brief vision statement (at most three pages) highlighting the key research questions you think should be explored as part of the CD3 initiative and how you would facilitate a team to do the research necessary to achieve the vision. This should include the time you would dedicate to this project across the build phase as well as the key risks to the programme and potential risk mitigation strategies. 

3. A curriculum vitae with education and professional qualifications and full employment history, giving details where applicable of budgets and numbers of people managed as well as relevant achievements in recent posts and latest remuneration. It is also helpful to have daytime and evening telephone contact numbers and e-mail addresses, which will be used with discretion. 

4. A letter of support from your current superior, confirming your organisation is supportive of your application to this role (max two pages). 

The closing date for applications is 12pm on 24th February 2023. Final interviews will take place in March 2023. 

Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy aims to create equal, diverse and inclusive research environments that enable all brilliant minds to come together, thrive and progress. 

We know that in order to beat cancer for everyone, we need a workforce that represents our communities. We therefore encourage applications from candidates from diverse backgrounds, in particular those from ethnic minority backgrounds, who are currently under-represented.  

Contact us

For an informal conversation about the role please contact Talisia Quallo at   

Shape our work in early detection and diagnosis

Help us driving the new Cancer Data Driven Detection (CD3) initiative 

Apply now

Early Detection and Diagnosis of Cancer Roadmap

Early detection and diagnosis roadmap

Derived from extensive consultation, the Early Detection and Diagnosis of Cancer Roadmap aims to unite fragmented efforts across the UK to drive progress in early detection and diagnosis. The Roadmap provides tangible recommendations on how to overcome the current challenges impeding progress.

Joining the dots to unlock the power of big data

Research Data Strategy hero image

Big data is becoming a vital tool to beat cancer, but to capitalise on this we need a joined-up approach. Our new Research Data Strategy will unleash the potential of data science to help build a better future for people affected by cancer. 

Our strategy for prevention research

Prevention strategy

With cancer incidence increasing, prevention research is critical for saving lives and reducing pressure on global health systems. Our new prevention strategy outlines how we’ll work with our research community to create a world where many more types of cancer are prevented from developing. 

Equality, diversity and inclusion in research

Mariam Jamal Hanjani working with colleagues

At Cancer Research UK, we believe your success as a researcher should be determined by the quality of your science – and nothing else. We are committed to creating equal, diverse and inclusive research environments that enable all brilliant minds to come together, thrive and progress.