This funding opportunity will support the development of a consortium based, broad utility, deep genotyping and phenotyping platform, capable of generating breakthrough insights into patient response, adverse effects, and resistance to immunotherapy.
In addition to creating a platform, funding should also be used to support an exemplar project or projects seeking to identify marker signatures predicting response or non-response, resistance or toxicity in a defined patient population and therapeutic modality combination.
This initiative aims to develop a broad utility, deep genotyping and phenotyping platform of equipment, staff and expertise that will unlock insight into mechanisms and markers of response, adverse effects, and loss of response in cancer immune based therapies (including small molecule, antibody, cell based or vaccine therapy).
In addition, funding will support delivery of an exemplar research project (or projects) to establish the utility of the platform and generate early data. Collectively, the establishment of the platform and exemplar project(s) will leave a legacy of equipment, expertise, know how and data to support future research into immunotherapy response.
Broadly, the long term ambitions for the platform are:
- generation of actionable molecular insights to inform patient selection and monitoring to improve the accessibility and appropriate use of approved immune based cancer therapies in clinical practice.
- generation of transferable mechanistic insights and diagnostic approaches with the potential to unlock a new generation of immunotherapy R&D and research investment in the UK. This could include identification of new immunotherapeutic targets and mechanistically driven combination therapy approaches, as well as informing patient selection for clinical trials of emerging immune based cancer therapeutics.
The single £9 million award will support a single consortium to develop a sustainable, broad utility platform to deliver actionable insights around patient response and adverse reactions to cancer based immune therapies. The consortium would be led by a multi institutional team of academic experts, incorporating representation from key centres across the UK, and include at least one industry collaborator.
Bids must describe how the research platform will be embedded in an NHS environment involving appropriate high volume patient hospitals, along with details on sample acquisition, analytical infrastructure and practices, and data capabilities.
Applicants should detail how the platform will be of ongoing and broad utility beyond the exemplar project(s) included in the award; how will the platform, its analytic equipment and expertise serve, and be made available to, the wider cancer immunotherapy research community, across both academia and industry, in order to work towards patient benefit?
Exemplar research projects
To demonstrate utility of the platform, applicants will be asked to define and justify an exemplar project or small number of projects to investigate, and to define biomarker signatures predictive of, response, adverse events and resistance to, or resistance to immune based cancer therapies in a defined patient population about to receive a particular immunotherapy (either in clinical practice or trial settings). Applicants should provide a compelling rationale for the exemplar project(s), defining and justifying the cancer type or types and immunotherapeutic modality or modalities to be studied.
Expression of interest (EOI)
Following the workshop, the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) will run an optional EOI) stage. You are invited to submit a short outline of their proposed consortium and bid in order to receive feedback on their proposal. Please note, this EOI stage is not mandatory and proposals to the opportunity will be accepted from eligible applicants not having taken advantage of the EOI stage.
The duration of this award is four years.
Projects must start by 1 August 2024.
A total of £9 million (80% FEC including relevant indexing) over four years is available. We expect to fund a single consortium.
The expected spend profile of this funding allows for spend of £4 million (funders contribution) in FY 2024/25 with £5 million (funders contribution) spread evenly during the remainder of the grant. Committing less than £4 million (funders contribution) in FY2024/25 will lead to a corresponding reduction in the total award. Capital equipment is eligible for support.
What we will fund
You can request funding for:
- interdisciplinary multi institutional proposals
- proposals that extend access and use of existing hubs of state of the art equipment and build upon them
- capital equipment purchase (e.g. analytic technology, digital pathology equipment, data infrastructure)
- technical staff (lab, analytic or data)
- project management and consumables associated with the creation of the platform and delivery of one or more exemplar projects.
What we will not fund
We will not fund:
- fees or stipends for postgraduate studentships
- siloed projects that lack interdisciplinary integration, perspectives or approaches
- projects that do not embed the research and innovation community in the process
- consortia that do not include at least one industry partner
- proposals which seek to deliver a research programme, but do not aim to leave a legacy platform with a plan for how it will attract and deliver further research
Supporting skills and talent
We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.
UKRI is committed to ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks. Trusted research and innovation (TR&I) is a UKRI work programme designed to help protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector by enabling partnerships to be as open as possible, and as secure as necessary. Our TR&I principles set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.
As such, applicants for UKRI funding may be asked to demonstrate how their proposed projects will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help proportionately reduce these risks.
Find further guidance and information about TR&I, including additional where applicants can find additional support.
Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.