Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Cancer research transatlantic development and skills enhancement award 2024

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Following the UK-US Cancer Summit, MRC and NIHR, in partnership with NCI, are launching a second competition for the cancer research transatlantic development and skills enhancement (CRT-DSE) award.

Apply for funding to be hosted at NCI for six to 12 months to develop international collaborations and gain skills to underpin the next phase of your cancer research career.

You must:

  • be an early or mid-career cancer researcher, or looking to apply relevant skills and expertise within cancer research
  • be looking to establish yourself or transition to independence in your field
  • focus your research on any area within MRC’s or NIHR’s remit, or both

Who can apply

This funding opportunity is for UK-based early or mid-career researchers.

You should be looking to obtain training, develop skills and experience, and establish international collaborations with NCI researchers, towards supporting your transition to independence in cancer research.

You are likely to have a background in cancer research. If you do not come from a cancer research background, you are eligible. However, you will be expected to demonstrate how the funding opportunity will enhance your skills and facilitate ongoing cancer research and sustained collaborations beyond the end of the award.

Who is eligible to apply

Standard UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) eligibility criteria apply and specific NIHR eligibility criteria is outlined in the guidance notes on the NIHR website.

We invite applications from individuals at eligible organisations, in accordance with standard UKRI and NIHR practice.

Before applying for funding, check if you are eligible for research and innovation funding.

You should:

  • have completed a PhD, MD or equivalent at the time of awarding
  • not already hold a chair at the point of awarding
  • show evidence of productivity and potential to lead independent research, for example as demonstrated by critical contributions to independent or collaborative research outputs
  • show clear plans for developing as a leader in your specialist area of cancer research
  • show due consideration as to how you can manage this award alongside existing awards and commitments
  • show what mentoring and support you will have in place to enable you to maximise value from this funding opportunity

For clinical academic applications, you must have completed the relevant pre-registration training.

You do not need to currently hold an MRC or NIHR fellowship and there are no eligibility rules based on years of postdoctoral experience.

Career stages

We welcome applications from all early or mid-career researchers. However, you will be required to demonstrate that you are at an appropriate career stage and describe how this award will support your trajectory to becoming a future leader in your field.

The ‘early postdoctoral’ and ‘transition to independence’ career stages in the MRC applicant skills and experience criteria describe target career stages well suited to these awards.

You must clearly demonstrate that you have the potential, and are on a trajectory, to become a future leader in your area of research.

You must describe how this award will provide significant support towards becoming a researcher leader.

Early postdoctoral applicants particularly need to provide evidence of productivity and potential to lead independent research. For example, as demonstrated by critical contributions to independent or collaborative research outputs and articulate how this award will support a step change in their career trajectory towards independence and leadership.

You must propose a clear and detailed training and development plan that will maximise the opportunity provided through the scheme to work with US collaborators. Plans must be supported by your host institution and mentors.

The ‘transition to independence’ is the primary career stage being targeted and while not ineligible, individuals that are already established as an independent researcher are not the priority career stage for this scheme.

If an established researcher applies, a clear justification should be provided to explain why the support is required and why it is not already available through the host organisation.

You should consider whether this award will provide significant support on your career trajectory.

There are no eligibility rules based on whether you currently hold a permanent or open-ended academic position or job role. However, you must be based in the UK and have the support of your UK host organisation for the duration of the proposed award.

We encourage you to get in touch if you are unsure about your eligibility.

What we're looking for

We’re looking to support talented individuals to visit or be hosted by research groups at NCI over a duration of six to 12-months.

NCI is the largest of NIH’s 27 institutes and centres, and it consists of more than 300 laboratories and research groups.

NCI is located on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, and in the surrounding area of Rockville and Frederick, Maryland.

Eligible US research groups are directly funded by the NCI at the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) or the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG). For more information about eligible NCI research groups, please see:


Your application should support the establishment of new collaborations, or the substantial development of existing collaborations, with researchers at NCI.

We welcome you to approach potential NCI hosts directly if you have existing contacts, or are clear on who you wish to approach.


If you are unsure which research groups may be best suited to your interests, support and ‘match making’ can be facilitated by contacting NCI central contacts.

An email inquiry should be sent to both Erika Ginsburg ( and Jackie Lavigne ( and include the following information:

  • up to three sentences describing your scientific focus area or areas
  • CV

If you require matchmaking support, you should get in touch as early as possible and no later than 7 June 2024.

Once matching with a research group has been undertaken by NCI, you will be informed via email of the proposed research group and provided with their contact details.

Working with NCI hosts

You are required to work with your prospective NCI host to develop your application, discussing the opportunities and activities that will be on offer.

As part of the application, the NCI host is required to provide a letter of support, which you will upload as part of your application (see ‘Statement of support’).


Your application can focus on any area of cancer research within MRC’s or NIHR’s remit, or both, across biomedical and health research. For example, discovery and basic disease biology, through to translational, clinical and applied cancer research.

Find out about MRC’s strategy, remit and programmes.

Find out about NIHR’s academy remit for personal awards.

We are particularly keen to see applications that develop skills and experience in the following areas that align with priority opportunities identified during the UK-US Cancer Summit:

  • data science and artificial intelligence
  • health equity
  • molecular and other mechanisms of cancer prevention
  • trial methodology including innovative clinical trial design and delivery

In your application, you must clearly demonstrate:

  • how this proposal aligns with your existing skills and experiences
  • what training, skills and experiences will be gained through the proposal including new or developed collaborations
  • how this award will support and enable your long-term career goals in cancer research

Award length

These awards are to fund visits to the US across a six to 12-month period with the format of these visits being flexible. For example, you may choose to visit once for an extended duration or make several shorter visits.

You have MRC’s and NIHR’s support if you wish to combine this award with caring or family responsibilities. Appropriate costs to support this can be included within the application.

You must spend substantial time within the duration of the award visiting eligible research group or groups at NCI CCR or DCEG, or both.

The time spent overseas must accommodate the specific training and skills development aims of each application and your individual circumstances.

While virtual interactions will support ongoing development and skills over the duration of the award, we expect you to take advantage of and prioritise the opportunity for in-person visits.

In your application, you must clearly justify:

  • the proportion and pattern of time spent overseas and in the UK
  • how this will support and enable skills development, knowledge transfer and building or enhancing collaborations

Funding support

Full economic costs are not covered by this award. All costs will be supported at 100%.

Awards will provide funding for:

  • the salary of the grant holder for between six to 12 months (up to 100% full time equivalent), including:
    • travel, accommodation and subsistence costs associated with visits to the NCI host in the US
    • both personal and family relocation costs
    • visa costs and health insurance
    • subsistence costs to reflect the increase in cost of living can be requested. NIHR reserves the right to review and adjust these costs to ensure fair and justified support for all applicants
  • training and development costs of up to £5,000
  • conference costs of up to £2,000
  • research costs and consumables, including:
    • NCI partner research groups will support standard consumables, but where substantial or additional research costs are required for the proposed research and skills development, costs may be requested where justified
    • funding for clinical trials will be ineligible, but costs for collecting pilot data, add-on research linked to established trials or trial methodology and conducting preliminary work to support future research funding applications can be included

Host organisation commitment

Both the UK host (applicant employer) and NCI host (organisation being visited) should provide applicant-specific letters of support. Letters should outline appropriate commitment to supporting skills development, training needs and long-term career goals.

UK host (applicant employer) commitment includes:

  • support that will be provided by the UK host organisation to enable development and progression of the applicant’s research career
  • how the UK host organisation will liaise with the US host organisation to ensure appropriate support is in place, including arrangements for pastoral care
  • the names of a senior academic or academics who have supported you during the development of your application and who will continue to do so
  • evidence of the host organisation’s commitment to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive research culture, including evidence of commitment to the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion, and research integrity

NCI host (organisation being visited) commitment includes:

  • additional details on in-kind commitment including access to space or equipment
  • support that will be provided by the NCI host organisation to enable development and progression of the applicant’s research career
  • how the US host organisation will liaise with the UK host organisation to ensure appropriate support is in place, including arrangements for pastoral care
  • the names of a senior academic or academics who have supported you during the development of your application and who will continue to do so
  • evidence of the US host organisation’s commitment to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive research culture, including evidence of commitment to the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion, and research integrity

Ethics considerations

You must ensure that all proposed research, both that in the UK and in the US, will comply with the standard principles and expectations for UK research using animals, human participants and human tissue (including stem cells).

More detail on expectations is included in the guidance document on the NIHR website for this funding opportunity. For example, additional joint letters of support accompanying the application will be required when human or human tissue or animal research is proposed, and animal welfare standards should be consistent with the principles of UK legislation.

Trusted research and innovation

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is committed in 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.

Further guidance and information about TR&I, including where you can find additional support.

How to apply

All applications must be completed and submitted using the NIHR online application system.

You can find guidance on completing your application in the guidance notes on the NIHR website.

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application


NIHR must receive your application by 2 August 2024 at 1:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your application to pass through your organisation’s submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place, for both UK and US partners.


Your application must also include the following attachments:

  • UK host organisation letter of support (required)
  • NCI host letter of support (required)
  • training and development Gantt chart (required)
  • letter of support where research involves human participation, human tissue, or animals
  • use of animals overseas form, if applicable
  • if you have applied unsuccessfully for an award previously, please upload a cover letter which details how this application differs and how any feedback received has been used to inform this application

How we will assess your application

More information is provided in the guidance notes on the NIHR website for this funding opportunity.

Contact details

Get help with developing your application

For help and advice on costings and writing your application please contact your research office in the first instance.

Ask about this funding opportunity

This funding opportunity is jointly funded by MRC and NIHR with in-kind support from NCI.

Queries related to funding opportunity scope and purpose may be addressed to any of the following contacts.

MRC related queries


Include ‘UK US Cancer DSE’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within five working days.

NIHR related queries


Telephone: 0113 532 8410

Get help with applying

The funding opportunity is administered through the NIHR Academy and NIHR will be best placed to address queries related to applying.



0113 532 8410

Opening times

Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm US time

Additional info


A webinar will be hosted on 24 April 2024, 2:00pm to 3:00pm UK time to provide information and address questions from potential applicants.

Register for the webinar on Zoom.

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