Cancer Research UK Awards £8.9 Million for Renewal of the CSC Clinician Academic Training Programme

Apr 5, 2024, 09:41 AM by Arnaud Legrand

Cancer Research UK has committed nearly £9 million to foster the forthcoming wave of clinician scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research and Imperial College London. This substantial investment is designed to enhance the diversity within clinical research teams, ensuring a broader range of perspectives and expertise in the battle against cancer.


Cancer Research UK has announced a substantial financial boost to the Convergence Science Centre, aimed at increasing the number of doctors trained as clinician scientists to conduct cancer research. These clinician scientists are pivotal in the translation of cancer research, serving as connecting the theoretical insights of laboratory research with the practical applications of clinical implementation. Their dual role in both research and clinic is indispensable for advancing our understanding and application of cancer treatments.

This initiative is part of Cancer Research UK’s Clinical Academic Training Programme Award, set to enhance clinical research training across nine of its research centres for the next five years. This move extends the charity's prior £50.7 million investment made in 2019, culminating in a total investment exceeding £109 million over a decade. This underscores Cancer Research UK's vital contribution to the UK’s life sciences sector, underpinning approximately 50% of all public research funding in the country.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, said:

“Clinician scientists have a very important role to play by bringing their knowledge and experience of treating people with cancer to scientific research.

“We need all our doctors and scientists to be able to reach their full potential, no matter their background. That’s why we are continuing to provide flexible training options for early-career clinician scientists. After the success of the first five years of this programme, we want to encourage even more clinicians to get involved in cancer research to help us get closer to a world where everybody lives longer, better lives free from the fear of cancer.”

The journey to becoming a clinician scientist typically involves doctors pausing their medical training to pursue a PhD, before resuming their specialisation training. However, a significant number of clinicians do not return to research after becoming consultants, often due to the pressures on the NHS and a shortage of funding. A survey conducted by Cancer Research UK in 2023 found that 74% of clinical research staff reported greater challenges in conducting research promptly over the previous 18 months, with 78% highlighting the broader pressures on the health service as a major or severe barrier. In response, Cancer Research UK is offering funding to support more flexible training pathways, alongside mentorship and networking opportunities, aiming to maintain clinicians’ involvement in cancer research. This includes facilitating the provision of combined Bachelor of Medicine-Doctor of Philosophy (MB-PhD) qualifications at universities, enabling medical students to embark on a PhD earlier in their training.

Professor Axel Behrens, Scientific Director of the Convergence Science Centre, said:

"A crucial aspect of the CSC is to train the next generation of clinical scientists, and to endow them with the ability to use multidisciplinary approaches and translate them into tangible benefits for cancer patients. The successful renewal of the joint Imperial/ICR Clinical Academic Training Programme until 2029 will enable the CSC to continue to train the future leaders in clinical academic research."

The Convergence Science Centre is committed to enrich the cancer research landscape by cultivating the next wave of clinical scientists. Our trainees possess the unique capability to navigate interdisciplinary divides and to integrate cutting-edge tools and methodologies directly into enhanced care and treatment options for cancer patients. Our partnership with both the Institute of Cancer Research and Imperial College London forms a strong foundation for this mission. By leveraging the collective expertise and innovative pull generated by the convergence science approach, we aimed to significantly advance the diversity in clinical research. This partnership not only fuels the development of clinical scientists who are adept at translating research into practical medical solutions but also ensures that the evolving needs of cancer patients remain at the forefront of scientific progress.


This news story is  partially based on press materials from Cancer Research UK.