Oct 20, 2023, 11:46 AM
Developing new technologies, methodologies, and tools to address urgent unmet clinical needs in cancer healthcare and to solve intractable cancer problems is the key focus of the CRUK Convergence Science Centre. The Development Fund aims to promote novel research at the convergence of engineering, physical and data sciences with biological and clinical research.
Awards of up to £50K for a 12-month period are available to support the development of preliminary data required to build a more substantive project that could attract investment from external sources, for example the CRUK Multidisciplinary Project Award and the Early Detection & Diagnosis Award.
DEADLINE 31st JANUARY 2024
INTERVENTIONAL AND DATA SCIENCES
Interventional Science: This theme aims to deliver improvements in surgery, radiotherapy, novel localised therapies, and innovations to monitor therapeutic efficacy. This will be achieved through improvements in the precision of cancer detection and diagnosis and in treatment planning, delivery, and response monitoring at specific phases of the patient journey.
- Early Detection: The Centre will be looking for projects aligning advanced biological research with state-of-the-art detection technologies that offer substantial advantages over existing solutions, whether involving biomarkers, genetic markers, or other innovative approaches for early detection.
- Earlier Diagnosis: As cancer detection referrals increase, the Centre is dedicated to supporting technologies that enhance patient stratification, diagnosis accuracy, and treatment decisions. We prioritise rapid diagnosis, specificity, sensitivity, and integration with imaging technologies. Detecting cancer recurrence early is also a key focus.
- Improved and novel therapies: Surgery and radiotherapy remain vital for treating solid malignancies. The Centre is committed to advancing these technologies and exploring innovative therapies, image-guided interventions, and treatment decision tools. While we support novel technological and methodological components, we do not fund drug discovery projects unless they include innovative technology. Other types of Chemical Biology approaches are welcome.
- Therapy and care monitoring: The Centre is interested in monitoring technologies, encompassing devices for real-time assessment during therapy, as well as those for medium to long-term post-therapy monitoring. We seek technologies that enhance precision during treatment, monitor immediate responses, and support at-home use. Our goal is to prevent therapy failure, rehospitalisation, relapses, and enhance overall patient well-being and quality of life.
The Data Science initiative represents a novel addition to our strategy, functioning as an overarching approach aimed at tackling data science challenges in alignment with CRUK's Data Strategy. This initiative encompasses three key areas of interest:
- Mathematical Oncology: Multi-modal approaches to Discovery Research. This involves using a combination of diverse data sources and mathematical modeling techniques to enhance our understanding of cancer. It integrates various types of data, such as genomics, imaging, and clinical information, to create comprehensive models that can reveal intricate aspects of cancer biology.
- AI-assisted medical imaging and digital pathology. This refers to the utilisation of artificial intelligence (AI), in its broad definition, to enhance the analysis of medical images and pathology slides. It aims to improve methodologies and technologies to enable automated and more precise interpretation of medical images, such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, as well as digitised pathology slides or even patient-derived models such as organoids.
- Use of Health Data for cancer stratification, detection, and monitoring. This entails harnessing health data, such as patient records, genetic information, and real-time monitoring data, to refine the stratification, early detection, and continuous monitoring of cancer.
Applicants must clearly articulate the clinical and/or biological question that will be addressed and the need for novel engineering and physical sciences (EPS) approaches to address them. Applications must utilise a convergence science approach. Convergence science is a unique approach to solving vexing research problems, especially those focusing on societal needs, or in the case of cancer research, unmet clinical needs. The focus of the CRUK Convergence Science Centre is to merge EPS and cancer research expertise to develop new technologies, methodologies and tools that directly put cancer patient wellbeing at the centre of their design. While the Centre may choose to support basic research projects, the emphasis must be on clinical translation. To support researchers in finding whether their project ideas fit within the remit of this call and find collaborators, the Centre has arranged a workshop on 24th November 2023 - please find further details in the annoucement below. The Centre also offers advice in the form of consultations that are freely available by completing this request form. Please note that this service is only advisory and is only meant to help build convergence collaborations and projects. It is independent from our funding decision pipeline.
Priority will be given to the development of innovative cancer technologies, methodologies, and tools. Cross-institutional applications are recommended but not mandatory.
- Applications are open to researchers that can confirm that they have access to space, staff, and equipment to undertake the study and that their contract allows them to undertake an independent research project.
- Applications should typically be led by researchers from different disciplines, and while the collaborative teams do not need to be newly formed, the project’s work packages needs to be new. Lead applicants will be expected to have equal intellectual input into the design and delivery of the study and will be given equal recognition for the project.
- Applications are particularly encouraged from newly independent investigators to enable the development of preliminary data to support future applications for funding. The inclusion of early career researchers (including PhD Students) as collaborators is also highly encouraged.
Development Fund Guidelines 2024 AND Application Form 2024 AVAILABLE HERE