CRUK Funding timeline image

Cancer Research UK is the largest independent funder of cancer research in Europe and the world’s leading charity dedicated to cancer research. CRUK is committed to providing funding to research through a variety of mechanisms, from small pots of seed funding to larger programmatic and career development awards, as well as through funding infrastructure and international consortia.

If you are considering apply for funding from CRUK, or wish to discuss potential funding routes, please Chloe Stockford to discuss your project and we will strive to help you prepare your application or for interview.

Upcoming CRUK Funding Deadlines:



  • Clinical Trial Award: 18 February 2021
  • Experimental Medicine Award: 18 February 2021


  • Discovery Programme Awards: 18 March 2021
  • Discovery Programme Foundation Awards: 18 March 2021
  • Early Detection and Diagnosis Primer Award: 18 March 2021
  • Early Detection and Diagnosis Programme Award: 11 March 2021
  • Prevention and Population Research Programme Awards: 11 March 2021


  • Advanced Clinician Scientist Fellowship: 1 April 2021
  • Clinician Scientist Fellowship: 1 April 2021
  • Career Establishment Award: 1 April 2021
  • Career Development Fellowship: 1 April 2021
  • Senior Cancer Research Fellowship: 1 April 2021
  • Biomarker Project Awards: 1 April 2021
  • Prospective Sample Collection Awards: 1 April 2021


*Please note: Due to COVID-19 deadlines continue to be changed or cancelled at short notice. Please speak with the relevant CRUK grant manager

CRUK Response Mode Funding

Pioneer Award - Primer

Funds projects up to £200k over 2 years

The Pioneer award is designed to fund innovative, high-risk and blue-sky ideas that might have a tremendous impact on cancer research.

Applications are eligible from any scientific discipline, on any cancer-related subject and you do not need supporting preliminary data to back up your idea (although it must be grounded in science). The Panel will be heavily focused on the novelty, innovation and potential impact of the idea. It will not typically fund research that can/would be funded via another CRUK routes, or research which it views as incremental in nature.

The funding process for this award is unique at CRUK as it is an anonymised, it has a quick turnaround, there are multiple calls per year and interviews are more like a sales pitch. If invited to interview, please contact the Imperial Centre and we can help you prepare your presentation. 

Applications are welcome from Post-Doctoral researchers, but note that having a clearly supportive PI can impact on the panel's decision.

Please visit the CRUK Pioneer Award website for more information, guidlines and to see previously funded projects.

Multidisciplinary Award - Project

Funds projects up to £500k over 4 Years

The Multidisciplinary Awards, co-funded by the EPSRC, are designed to support collaborative research projects between biologists/clinicians and researchers from the engineering and physical sciences, including mathematicians and computer scientists. These awards support research which:

  • Develops novel EPS approaches to further our understanding of the underlying biology of cancer
  • Develops novel EPS technologies or methodologies that can be applied in the prevention, detection, diagnosis or treatment of cancer
  • Proposes the first applications of technologies in cancer research and those which demonstrate potential clinical applicability 

With such a braod remit, the multidisciplinary awards is often the go-to scheme for any project involving multiple scientific disciplines, however, there may other schemes best suited for your research project, such as Early detection or Pioneer awards, depending on the positoning, scope and maturity of the project.

Please note that any multidisciplinary award must include at least two PIs from distinct scientifc disciplines, incluing one PI working in cancer research.

Visit the Multidisciplinary Awards website for more details and guidance documents.

Discovery Programme Award - Programme

Funds programmes up to £2.5m over 5 years

Discovery Programme awards are designed for well-established, senior researchers who are considered leaders in their field, providing long-term support to answer questions spanning basic and translational research.

The remit is extremely broad, and applications are welcome from the physical and engineering sciences.

If you are a early-mid career researcher, please see the career debvelopment schemes further below.

Please the CRUK website for more infomation and to download the guidlines.

Early Detection & Diagnosis Awards – Primer/Project/Programme

Primer Award - £100k up to 1 year

Project Award - £500k up to 4 Years

Programme Award - £2.5m up to 5 years

The Early Detection & Diagnosis (ED&D) Awards are designed to fund research that will enable us to understand and detect the earliest possible changes in tissues from a pre-cancerous state, into the earliest possible point at which we might be able to diagnose cancer make an intervention. These awards have now been broadened to fund an even wider range of research to reflect on the research pathway towards clinical implementation, including:

  • Understanding the underpinning basic biology of transformation events,
  • Identifying and validating biomarkers,
  • The stratification of high-risk populations,
  • The development of new technologies,
  • New data driven and computational approaches
  • Non-confirmatory clinical trials of early detection/diagnostic technologies
  • Health systems research
  • Clinician behaviour and decision support
  • Evaluation of impact of early detection and diagnosis policies and interventions
  • Understand and intervene in the public behaviour of the public
  • Health economics

Researchers from a broad range of disciplines are eligible to apply for funding. We particularly encourage applications from engineering and the physical sciences, but you must carefully consider the specific cancer context of your research; appropriate biological and clinical collaborators are essential. This committee is also open to collaborations with industry which you might want to consider.

Post-doctoral researchers are also eligible to apply for the Primer awards as lead applicants


Early Detection Innovation Sandpit and Award

In addition to their regular funding streams, CRUK also holds an Early Detection Innovation Sandpit, which aim to catalyse new multidisciplinary collaborations between institutions. This interactive 3-day residential workshop ends with teams pitching their proposals, which if successful, receive seed-funding (£100k) for one year to cover the costs of pilot/feasibility studies

CRUK seeks participation from a wide range of disciplines, irrespective of prior history working in cancer research, and encourage out of the box thinking. We strongly recommend applications from the engineering and physical sciences to these sandpit events. Out of the box thinking is highly encouraged and welcome.

Previous sandpits have included:

  • Robotics
  • Novel AI approaches to Medical Image Interpretation
  • Sensor technologies for liquid biopsy


Check the CRUK early detection website for details about the next upcoming Sandpit

- Early detection of Pancreatic Cancer  (Application deadline: 15 September 2020)

Therapeutic Discovery Awards – Pilot/Project/Programme

Pilot Award - £200k up to 2 year

Project Award - £500k up to 3 Years

Programme Award - £2.5m up to 5 years

The Therapeutic drug discovery awards are currnetly being re-shaped to include pilot, project and programme sized awards for both small molecules and biotherapeutics. The aim of the Therapeutic discovery awards is to fund research which is looking to develop novel small molecule or biotherapeutic for anti-cancer treatment. The type of award you seek should reflect how early you are in the development of your therapeutic. Please not that Programmes can have a multi-target focus and include exploratory biology work packages, provided you demonstrate that they are aligned to therapeutic development and testing or have therapeutic intent. This scheme will fund projects ranging from:

  • Identification and validation of a novel targets;
  • Target deconvolution studies;
  • Identify potential therapeutic compounds;
  • Developing new therapeutics;
  • Hypothesis driven repurposing;
  • CValidation of novel combinations;
  • Assays, screening or platform development;
  • Application of novel technologies to improve the efficacy of therapeutic drugs 


For these particular awards, ensuring that you have robustly validated your target and the mode of inhibition is essential for the success of any therapeutic discoevry project. In addition, to be succesful in these awards you will need to established the right expertise and collaborations to make the proect a success - depending the stage of the project, this may include academic or pharmaceutical drug discovery expertise. When writing your proposal it is also improtant you include milestones and go/no-go descisions.

Eligible biotherapeutics include, but are not limited to:

  • Therapeutic antibodies or drug conjugated antibodies
  • Cell based therapies
  • Viral therapies
  • Vaccines
  • Protein therapies
  • Gene therapies
  • Adaptamers

Prevention & Population Research Awards – Project/Programme/Fellowship

Project award – Typically £100k per year, up to 3 years

Programme award – (no set value) up to 5 years

Postdoctoral Fellowship - (salary and expenses) 3 years

The Prevention & Population Research Committee (PPRC) supports clinical and public health epidemiology and educational and behavioural research on cancer prevention, screening and early diagnosis.

PPRC Awards have recently been updated and braodened to reflect research required to cover the pathway, so projects can be developed in the areas of:

  • Population-based studies to help understand risk and disease aetiology, and to test and validate strategies to improve the prevention and control of cancer
  • Incidence rates of cancer and changes in survival rates
  • Methodological and statistical research relating to prevention and population sciences
  • Population-level epidemiological studies of secondary physical effects of cancer treatment
  • Risk stratification and associated cancer prevention studies
  • Exploratory and confirmatory clinical trials seeking to test the efficacy and safety of chemopreventive agents
  • Development and evaluation of behavioural and lifestyle interventions for the prevention of cancer
  • Screening as a form of prevention (including population-level trials of screening approaches)
  • Policy-focused research

Please note: Early Early diagnosis research previously funded through these awards now sits under the Early Dection and Diagnosis Research Committee


Accelerator Award - Infrastructure

Funds up to £5M over 5 years

The Accelerator Award is held once a year (typically Jan/Feb) and funds cross-institutional teams to produce tools, platforms and resources which will transform the research landscape. These may include:

  • Producing datasets, tissue banks, cell lines or models
  • Developing methods, protocols, software and standards
  • Training, skills and knowledge sharing

The purpose of accelerator award is not to fund indivitdual projects, but rather funds resources that will enable the execution of a number of research projects from across the CRUK network. However, that said, it is important that you can demonstrate how the infrastructure will be used and have impact.

All accelerator award applications must include additional CRUK Centres as collaborators and the inclusion of Italian and/or Spanish collaborators is highly encouraged (if not unofficially mandatory)

Only 1 application led by Imperial is permitted. As such, the final application to be submitted will be coordinated and approved by the CRUK Imperial Centre. If you have an idea for an accelerator award, please contact the Imperial Centre team to discuss your idea

Please visit the CRUK Acceleerator Award website for more information, guidelines and to see the current portfolio of funded projects.

You can also read more about current awards involving Imperial researchers on our centres' accelerator award page.

CRUK Career Development Awards

CRUK is committed to supporting the next generation of cancer researchers and has opportunities for researchers at each stage of their career. We have generated resources below to help you consider which schemes you should, or are eligible to apply for at CRUK depending on your career level, your intended source of salary and whether you are a clinical or non-clinical researcher.

Also please note that CRUK has now moved from using post-PhD time-restrictions in their eligibility criteria to using a competency framwork, which outlines the skills and experience any applicant will need to demonstrate at each stage of their career.

CRUK Career Development Awards infographics

Non clinical career paths

Career Development Awards for Non-Clinical Researchers

Please click on the link below to download the infographic.

Non-clinical Career Funding at CRUK

clinical research career paths

Career Development Awards for Clinical Researchers

Please click on the link below to download the infographic.

Clinical Career Funding at CRUK 

Clinical Trial Research Awards

Clinical Trial Awards

Clinical Trial Awards – £150k per year, up to 10 years

Supports clinical trials of cancer treatment, including systemic treatment, radiotherapy and surgery, with the aim of improving patient outcomes. Types of studies include:

  • Phase 1a/2 dose finding trials testing safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy
  • Phase 1b/2 or phase 2 trials testing the viability of larger trials
  • Window of opportunity studies
  • Phase 2/3 or phase 3 trials to investigate the efficacy, effectiveness and tolerability

These awards will also consider new approaches that aim to achieve equivalent survival whilst reducing toxicity, or optimising treatment delivery, when applicants can demonstrate the potential for a significant impact on patient outcomes.

Biomarker Project Award

Funds up to £100k per year, over 3 years

For development, validation and qualification of biomarkers for use in the clinical setting, where the biomarker will improve or aid clinical decision making. It is strongly recommended that the study be associated with a clinical trial(s)/cohort population.

  • All types of biomarkers will be considered, including predisposition, screening, diagnostic, prognostic, predictive, pharmacological and surrogate response markers.
  • Proposals can use invasive or imaging techniques.
  • Biosamples or images can be collected as part of the proposal or accessed from existing sample/data sets.

Please note: pre-clinical biomarker discovery is not in remit

Visit the CRUK Biomarker Project award website for more details and guidelines

Experimental Medicine Award

funds projects up to £1–5 million, over 5 years

This scheme aims to fund highly ambitious translational research conducted in association with a clinical trial or well-designed clinical study, with the objective of optimising treatment. The findings MUST directly impact on the conduct of the trial.

Visit the CRUK website for more details and to download the applciation guidlines

Prospective Sample Collection Awards

funds £15-30 per block, £5-20 per blood sample

Provides support for the prospective collection of unique samples within a clinical trial, either where specific research question cannot yet be generated, or where specific questions have been generated but the funding to carry out that work has been or will be obtained elsewhere.

Such examples of unique smaples could include:

  • cancers of unmet need
  • rare cancers
  • longitudinal studies

Funding is provided for running expenses associated with the collection and pre-storage processing of blood and block samples, but not for long term storage or typically staff costs.

For more information and to download the scheme guidelines please visit the CRUK Prospective Sample Collection Awards webpage.

Clinical Trial Fellowship Award

Funds up to £50,000 per year, for 3 years - requires match funding from the host institution

This Fellowship supports clinicians with a demonstratable interest in clinical trials and who would benefit from further training within a Clinical Trial Unit (CTU) setting. Any application should be submitted in collaboration with an experienced CTU and with a senior member of CTU staff as the Joint Lead Applicant.

To be suitable to apply for a Clinical Trial Fellowship, the Lead Applicant should:
• Be clinically trained
• Have completed your Foundation Programme
• Be within your specialty and run - through training period

For more information and to download the scheme guidelines please visit the CRUK Clinical Trials Fellowship Award webpage.

You can also explore career and funding opportunities using the MRC interactive career framework tool, which includes oppotunites from 8 funders, including MRC, CRUK, the Wellcome Trust and NIHR. However, please note that roles and routes displayed are illustrative and not exhaustive.