Cancer Research UK and NCI to kick off next rounds of Grand Challenges
Over the last five years, Cancer Research UK has splashed £130 million ($172.6 million) into global oncology research through its Grand Challenge initiative. And there’s more where that came from.
The charity organization is joining forces with the US National Cancer Institute for three additional rounds. Research teams vying for a cut of the funding will take a shot at “challenge questions,” which will be posted in October. From there, a portion of applicants will receive pilot funds to finalize their proposals, and the best teams will be awarded $25 million for cancer studies over the next five years.
“This new partnership leverages the expertise of the world’s leading funders of cancer research in a bold effort to identify and pursue innovative ideas that address major challenges in understanding cancer,” NCI director Ned Sharpless said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to join Cancer Research UK in this unique collaboration to support novel cancer research on a global scale.”
Cancer Grand Challenges funds are designed to give teams “the freedom and scale to innovate and carry out cutting-edge research.” The “challenges” are determined through a series of international workshops, and a patient committee weighs in throughout the process.
Teams from the 2015 Challenges are creating virtual reality maps of tumors, researching new ways to fight inflammation-associated cancer, working on preventing unnecessary breast cancer treatment, and more. Seven teams total were awarded, including 73 research groups across nine countries. So far, Cancer Research UK has granted two rounds of awards to those groups.
For the renewed Cancer Grand Challenges, the NCI and Cancer Research UK will co-fund four awards in each round. A new round of challenges will be announced every other year.
Challenge questions for the next round will be posted in October. Then, teams will have until April 22 to submit an expression of interest. A small number of teams will be selected in June to complete final applications. Interviews will be conducted in December, and awards will be announced in 2022.
“Many of the ongoing Grand Challenge awards align with NCI research priorities, and our missions overlap in many ways,” Dinah Singer, NCI deputy director for scientific strategy and development, said in a statement. “This initiative will expand opportunities to identify new challenges based on insights from the cancer research community and to further our understanding of cancer. We’re looking forward to the new ideas proposed by creative teams from around the world.”