Filling the Gap
While there are many cancer research charities in the UK, and our knowledge of the disease has made huge strides forward, there are gaps in the system. Over the past year, our research team has gathered an evidence-base showing that scientists at certain career stages find it more difficult to get funding, and that our knowledge of prostate cancer has a number of gaps.
We wanted to use this grant call to fill those gaps, but we didn’t want to close ourselves off from funding excellent research with real potential to improve patients’ situations, just because it didn’t fit neatly within the areas we’d identified. We also encouraged applications from talented early career researchers who often struggle to get funding from elsewhere. We need to ensure fresh thinking, and to keep talented people in the field.
We decided to keep the grant call open, but to highlight areas we were particularly interested in. 55% of applications responded to the themes we had highlighted, showing that the will and the potential to solve these problems is there. We’re also happy that 45% of applications were not related to the areas we highlighted, as it shows that highlighting certain questions didn’t put other researchers off applying to us.
We sent the call for applications to all our own contacts, as well as via universities. However, we knew that the informal, word-of-mouth channels by which people hear of new opportunities had diminished significantly as labs closed and we entered lockdown. We were delighted, then, to receive 40 applications for funding.