Statement of Intent for Children’s and Young People’s Cancer Research

Scientist working in a lab with a pipette





Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults – from the types of cancer to the specific challenges facing the research community. Our statement of intent outlines how we intend to support researchers to overcome these challenges and drive progress in children’s and young people’s cancer research.


Why we’re prioritising children’s and young people’s cancer research

Despite improvements in overall survival over the last 40 years, cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease in children and young people (aged 0-24) in the UK. Some of these types of cancers continue to have low survival rates and many children and young people who survive do so with series long-term side effects.

We’re investing in this field to better understand the underpinnings of this disparate group of diseases and develop more effective and less toxic treatments to increase chances of survive and improve quality of life for patients after treatment.

Challenges with research into children’s and young people’s cancers

Scientist working with a pipette
  • Too few researchers
  • Too little discovery research
  • Not enough industry support
  • Poor awareness
  • Fragmented expertise
  • Lack of research tools

How we’re tackling these challenges

We consulted UK and international researchers in the field, as well as patients and parents who have been affected. Following these consultations, we identified three key priorities areas people, community and infrastructure. By focusing on these areas, we aim to increase high-quality research across the translational pipeline and in all types of cancer affecting children and young people.

We want to support researchers to overcome the challenges so we can increase the chance of survival for children and young people and improve their quality of life during and after treatment.


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Build research capacity in the UK

  • We launched the international SU2C-CRUK Paediatric Cancer New Discoveries Challenge which is supporting three new research collaborations between UK and US labs. Each collaboration will receive $1 million over two years, with possible extensions of $5 million over 3 – 4 years for the most promising projects. 
  • We recently funded £20 million for the Cancer Grand Challenge team NexTGen, to develop novel therapies to target unique features in solid tumours in children. 
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Develop and support a coordinated research community

  • We will host community building workshops and events to support conversations and collaboration between lab scientists and clinicians, and between scientists from different research fields.
  • We will continue to engage and collaborate with research communities not usually associated with children’s and young people’s cancers, encouraging them to apply their wide knowledge and expertise to this area of cancer research. 
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Ensure the research community has the tools and infrastructure it needs to progress

  • We will build and link together resources, for example research data and tissue samples, and fund the development of vital research tools through our funding award schemes.
  • All of our funding schemes are open and available for the children and young people cancer research community to fund the development of vital research tools.
  • Our Discovery Programme Awards provide long-term support for broad, multidisciplinary research and our Clinical Trial Awards support clinical trials of cancer treatment with the aim of improving patient outcomes. 

Our research strategy

Scientists past and present and cancer patients

Our research strategy shapes how we'll discover more about the mechanisms of how cancer develops and progresses to unlock new and better ways to prevent, detect and treat it. 

We remain committed to prioritising cancers that affect children and young people and in the financial year 2021/22, we spent £13.4m on research specific to cancers that affect 0-24-year-olds, making us the biggest charitable funder of research into children’s and young people’s cancers in the UK.

Latest news and feature stories

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Banking on breakthroughs for children and young people 
A partnership between Cancer Research UK and Blood Cancer UK has resulted in the UK’s leading biomedical research resource dedicated to storing samples and data of cancers in children and young people.  


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Teenage (…and young adult) kicks 
Caroline-May Huxley and Sandra Strauss talk to us about the importance of shedding light on cancer in teenagers and young adults. 

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The Nobel Prize winner helping us treat children’s cancers
Carolyn Bertozzi won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for a technique she developed to look at strands of sugar on the surface of cells, which appear on solid tumours in children.

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One to One with Dr Laura Danielson – That Cancer Conversation podcast
We hear from Dr Laura Danielson, our research lead for children’s and young people’s cancer, talking about her experiences and work to reduce the barriers and drive progress in children’s and young people’s research.

Develop your research career

We're committed to supporting the next generation of cancer researchers and we have opportunities for you wherever you are in your career, whether you're new to the lab, or growing your fully fledged independent research group.

We have a broad range of fellowships, bursaries, job opportunities and studentships to cater for your situation.