UK-US collaboration to develop future cancer research leaders

New funding will support UK and US early to mid-career researchers to develop skills and experiences to underpin the next phase of their cancer research careers.

The Cancer Research Transatlantic Development and Skills Enhancement (DSE) awards will fund placements for UK researchers with leading US cancer research institutions.

Up to £4 million is being made available to support clinical or non-clinical researchers in developing transatlantic collaborations.

The DSE awards are funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Career development

The DSE awards will pave the way for more seamless transatlantic collaboration, knowledge exchange, and co-mentoring.

Key to the awards is promoting cross-partner working to ensure effective career development support for researchers establishing themselves as independent cancer researchers.

Awards are partnered with the US National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Through this partnership, UK early to mid-career researchers can spend between six to 12 months at either the NCI’s Centre for Cancer Research or Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.

Unique partnership

The UK and US are world-leaders in cancer research.

The new DSE award scheme continues the unique transatlantic partnership, supporting delivery of the ambitions set-out at the UK-US Cancer Summit, held in late 2021 and published in the summit report.

The summit, convened by MRC, NCI, and Cancer Research UK, brought together UK and US:

  • researchers
  • clinicians
  • patients
  • industry partners

Transforming our understanding and approach

The focus of the summit was to identify research opportunities and challenges to fundamentally transform our understanding of cancer and our approach to it.

The report highlights priority opportunities to accelerate progress and to change the experience of cancer as we know it today by focusing on:

  • global health
  • health equity
  • social and economic impact

International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF)

MRC’s funding for the awards is made possible thanks to the UK’s ISPF.

ISPF supports collaboration between UK researchers and innovators and their peers from around the world to address global challenges.

George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology said:

In the last 20 years we have seen huge advances in the detection and treatment of cancer.

In our lifetime alone this disease has increasingly become treatable, and even curable.

Much of this progress has been driven by the world-leading cancer research that is taking place on both sides of the Atlantic, from the development of immune-based cancer therapies to new methods of diagnosis and screening.

This funding will bolster the already strong links between UK and US cancer researchers, and build on the success of the UK-US Cancer summit.

The UK is a life sciences superpower and we are determined to continue bringing this strength to bear to beat cancer, including through our £22.5 million Cancer Mission.

Investing in our best cancer researchers

Will Quince MP, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, said:

Research is crucial in the fight against cancer. We’re investing in our best cancer researchers so they can grow their essential skills and continue to develop ground-breaking new treatments and potential cures.

This collaboration with leading US cancer research institutions will help drive future advances in cancer care and treatment and build on the rich history of the US and UK working closely together, to address the challenges of cancer.

It also builds on our progress on cancer, with survival rates improving and more people being seen and treated than ever before.

Shared vision

Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., Director of the US NCI said:

It is our obligation and our honor to ensure that the next generation of cancer researchers have all the support they need to embrace the full range of scientific opportunities before us.

We look forward to continuing to work together with our UK partners following the UK-US Cancer Summit in our shared vision to identify transformative research challenges and ways to resolve barriers to progress, to accelerate and fundamentally change our understanding of cancer, our approach to it, and ultimately the experience of people with cancer and their families.

Supporting clinical and non-clinical researchers

Professor John Iredale, Executive Chair of MRC said:

To truly transform our collective understanding and approach to cancer, we must ensure continued partnerships that support both clinical and non-clinical researchers to overcome barriers across the research pathway.

The DSE awards are an exciting opportunity for the next generation of cancer research leaders.

We’re delighted to be supporting an award that not only delivers on recommendations from the Cancer Summit, but also tackles a critical research need.

Power of collaboration

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of NIHR, said:

Research is at its best when we are working together, and sharing our ideas and learnings.

This important award funding will help advance our knowledge of cancer research by harnessing the power of collaboration with our much-valued partners in the US.

By enabling early to mid-career researchers to establish new relationships in the field of cancer and develop their research skills like never before, we will help them progress further and faster in their careers.

Further information

Find out more about the award on the UK Research and Innovation funding finder: Cancer Research Transatlantic Development and Skills Enhancement award.

Top image:  Credit: kupicoo, E+ via Getty Images

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