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The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) invites proposals for collaborative research projects with funding available up to a total equivalent of £500,000 (approx $630,000) for up to 36 months. Both small scale proposals for high-risk research with some preliminary data and larger proposals building on previously established research are welcome. Applications must include named researchers from at least two ACED Member Centres.

  • Applicants should read the guidelines and application form for further information.
  • Applicants are required to complete an 'Intent to Submit' form no later than 30th Nov 2023 to be eligible to apply.
  • The final applications must be submitted to Dr Anna Nicholson by 12 noon on Thursday 18th January 2024. Funding decisions will be announced in April/May 2024.

Applications within the remit of early detection of primary cancer(s) will be considered, however, ACED particularly encourages applications in the following priority areas:

ACED also invites proposals addressing questions around clinical validation and translation to trials, as well as machine learning, AI, and computational modelling approaches to major challenges in the early detection field.

Applications that enhance the output of previously funded ACED awards are encouraged, particularly where applicants can develop further collaborations with other ACED researchers.

More details of our priority areas are below.

More Information

Applicants must be a current ACED member at the University of Cambridge. Each proposal must include joint lead applicants from at least two Alliance Member Centres. Collaboration between US and UK Member Centres is encouraged, but not mandatory.

Applicants are advised to read the guidelines and application form. Please find all relevant documents and links here:

Alert your departmental grants and finance administrator by the 1st December 2023 if you are intending to submit your application. Your grants and finance administrator will need to generate an X5 and will liaise with the Research Operations Office for approval of this X5.

Completed applications must be submitted to Dr Anna Nicholson ( in MS Word format.


  • Thursday 30th November 2023: Complete Intent to Submit form
  • 1st December 2023: Alert your departmental grants/finance administrator
  • Thursday 18th January 2024: Final applications to be submitted to Dr Anna Nicholson by 12 noon
  • April/May 2024: Funding decisions will be announced

If you have any questions, please contact Dr Anna Nicholson (

Priority Areas

Enabling Interception 

This priority area will enable early detection of pre-cancerous lesions/changes and understanding of their biology to inform future interventional strategies (e.g. drug, immunological, surgery, ablation) to prevent progression to cancer and intercept at the earliest time. Potential questions include but are not limited to:

  • How can we intercept cancer at the earliest stage, whilst avoiding over-treatment?
  • How to better understand the biology of pre-cancer progression to a sufficient level that interception mechanisms/targets can be identified and explored?
  • How to develop organoids or other novel model systems to replicate pre-cancerous changes for studying interception pathways?
  • Why do pre-malignant lesions sometimes regress while others progress; what aspects of biology cause this, and is there a mechanism to cause pre-cancerous changes to regress?

N.B. Development of vaccines and therapeutics is out of scope for this funding round.

Hereditary Cancers and Risk Prediction

This area aims to encourage the use of samples and data from subjects with increased risk of developing cancer, or to develop a better understanding of cancer risk. Potential questions include but are not limited to:

  • How do we identify those with a high risk of developing cancer caused by underlying mutations in a patient’s DNA to inform early detection strategies?
  • How do individual high-risk mutations manifest; why do some high-risk individuals progress to cancer and some do not, and how can this knowledge inform early detection?
  • What learnings can be taken from hereditary cancers and underlying genetic risk to address the challenge of early detection of sporadic cancers?

Inequalities in Cancer Early Detection

This area focusses on identifying, understanding and addressing underlying causes of early detection inequalities in our diverse US and/or UK populations, looking at both avoidable (e.g. driven by environmental and societal factors) and unavoidable (e.g. driven by genetic predisposition and underlying biology) factors. Potential questions include but are not limited to:

  • Understanding and identifying the different drivers of cancer formation in different groups within our diverse populations (e.g. ethnicities), and therefore being able to detect and diagnose, as well as predict progression from benign to malignant, and when an intervention is needed.
  • Developing new model systems for biological aspects of sex, age, ethnicity, or co-conditions in different cancers, especially where clinical samples are challenging to source, to inform early detection approaches.
  • How can we close the gap between stage of diagnosis across different genetic and socioeconomic profiles?
  • Can differences in symptom presentation, reporting, access to and uptake of screening and diagnostics be addressed?

Early Detection of Cancer in Low-and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC)

Related to inequalities in early detection, ACED also aims to develop early detection approaches for low-and middle-income settings where there are additional considerations around limitations in resources, access to healthcare infrastructure, geographical and political considerations and availability of technology. Combined research in these priority areas will help to ensure the provision of equitable interventions across diverse populations, nationally and internationally, to improve cancer outcomes for all. Potential questions include those listed above, adapted to cancer inequalities in LMIC settings but also:

  • Can appropriate cancer early detection testing/technology be designed and introduced specifically in LMIC or low resource settings?