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This Biology to Prevention Award aims to harness biological and mechanistic insights to provide new targets and approaches for cancer prevention.


You should:

  • have some postdoctoral experience or equivalent
  • be scientists, clinicians or healthcare workers in UK universities, medical schools, hospitals or research institutes (including Cancer Research UK-funded Institutes)

Early career researchers (those at the “develop independence” or “establish independence” career stage as defined by CRUK's competency framework) are encouraged to apply to the scheme as co- or principal applicant. Proposals with an early career researcher as principal applicant would strongly benefit from the inclusion of at least one established researcher as co-applicant, to provide mentorship.

Scientific remit

The Biology to Prevention Awards aim to stimulate translational research that will build and use greater biological and mechanistic understanding of cancer aetiology, genesis and risk, in order to lead to precision prevention interventions. We expect applicants to clearly justify the line of sight from the proposed work to eventual impact on lowering cancer risk or incidence (as outlined in our Prevention Research Strategy). It is important that this line of sight has been fully considered.

These awards are for researchers at all career stages across any research area, including those from non-traditional cancer prevention fields (such as other non-communicable disease areas with potential common upstream causal risk factors, or those working in the context of therapeutic target identification and innovation) to engage with cancer prevention research. They support development of new collaborative partnerships, and truly interdisciplinary, innovative approaches. Collaborations between existing cancer prevention researchers (including population and behavioural scientists) and biologists, geneticists, immunologists, drug developers or other new entrants to cancer prevention research are strongly encouraged.

Areas that could be considered include but are not limited to:

  • building on biological insight into mechanisms of early pre/cancerous changes to validate potential new prevention targets
  • translational research to develop and establish proof of principle for novel preventive approaches (pharmacological, dietary, behavioural or immunological)
  • development of novel approaches to treating/eliminating/modulating pre-cancerous lesions or changes
  • use of mechanistic insight or risk stratification to better target existing preventive approaches (pharmacological, dietary, behavioural or immunological)
  • developing and implementing precise understanding of the biological mechanisms mediating cancer risk from modifiable risk factors to reduce that risk (especially those that exacerbate health inequities)
  • gaining a mechanistic understanding of how, and in whom, repurposed drugs/dietary compounds confer their cancer preventive properties, and/or how these could subsequently be used for precision preventive approaches
  • identification and validation of biomarkers/surrogate endpoints which might predict future cancer emergence or the preventive effect of interventions
  • novel approaches to prevention research using surrogate endpoints and innovative trial designs

Not in remit

This scheme only supports research that has a clear and direct prevention research question and line of sight to impact on cancer risk/incidence, and will not support the following:

  • Pure mechanistic discovery research without genuine line of sight and applicability to cancer prevention – this may be eligible for the CRUK discovery research funding opportunities.
  • Investigation into prevention of cancer progression or prevention of treatment side effects.
  • Research that is substantially based in epidemiological / behavioural approaches without the above described mechanistic component, or late-stage intervention trials – these may be eligible for the CRUK Prevention and Population Research Project Award

What is funded

These awards can support a continuum of projects, from:

  • new and exploratory research ideas, relationships, and/or pilot studies, including those of high scientific risk and potential reward, via pilot funding (from around £100k over a 1-year duration, requiring little preliminary data but a conceptual rationale), through to
  • longer-term projects grounded in strong preliminary data (up to £600k for 3–5-year duration)

The funding amount and duration should be based on the scientific need of the proposed project, as well as the extent of preliminary data available.

Funding is flexible for both cost and duration based on the nature of the research questions, and can be used to fund:

  • salaries for postdoctoral researchers or technical staff
  • experimental and associated running expenses
  • equipment
  • collaborative travel and networking costs