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Future Leaders

Poised to reshape the future of cancer research


Future research leaders are an integral part of the global Cancer Grand Challenges community. Currently in the early stages of their scientific careers, future leaders are key members of each Cancer Grand Challenges team and are exposed to exceptional cancer science with access to training in cutting-edge scientific techniques across disciplines. They are poised to reshape the future of cancer research. 

Future leaders worldwide
PhD students

The Cancer Grand Challenges Future Leaders Programme supports our community of future leaders. The programme includes bespoke events and workshops that give future leaders the opportunity to network with peers from across the globe, exchange ideas and form international collaborations early in their scientific training.

Exciting times lie ahead as our extraordinary cohort of future leaders ignites a transformative journey to tackle some of cancer’s toughest challenges.

Future Leaders Programme Activities  

Annual Future Leaders Conference

Every November, thanks to the generosity of The Bjorn and Inger Saven Future Leaders Fund, 100 future leaders from across the globe are invited to attend the Cancer Grand Challenges Future Leaders Conference in cities such as Barcelona or Lisbon. Content for the conferences includes scientific sessions, plenary talks from established leaders in the field such as René Bernards, Nuria Lopez-Bigas, Charlie Swanton and Yardena Samuels, career development sessions as well as a busy networking and social programme. 

Read about Amy Schade’s reflections from 2022’s Barcelona Conference. 

Annual Cancer Grand Challenges Summit

The annual Cancer Grand Challenges Summit brings together our global community to celebrate the progress that it is making against some of cancer's toughest challenges. Future leaders get the opportunity to rub shoulders with our international community of team leads, co-investigators, patient advocates, philanthropists and members of the Cancer Grand Challenges Scientific Committee. This is a unique opportunity for future leaders to connect with our global community of cancer research leaders.  


Monthly webinar series: Frontiers in Cancer Research

Future leaders showcase, troubleshoot and discuss with their peers unpublished work in progress from their Cancer Grand Challenges teams. These webinars are like a lab meeting, but on a global scale, providing an environment for Future leaders to present and seek feedback on projects and boost interactions and collaboration between Cancer Grand Challenges teams. The seminar is followed by an interactive Q&A, and an informal networking session in smaller breakout groups. The webinars offer a platform for attendees to expand their understanding in different research areas, learn from experts in various disciplines and explore new avenues of research. 

Team-specific annual research retreats

Each year, Cancer Grand Challenges teams are encouraged to gather in person for their annual research retreats (or mid-year meetings). The objective is to bring together all members of the team, update on progress, exchange ideas, and explore and brainstorm new research directions. Attendance and specific activities for future leaders are encouraged.

Other activities as part of the Future Leaders Programme 


Future leaders global network and collaboration channel 

A private digital networking channel for future leaders to network, collaborate and access the collective wisdom and intelligence of their peers, troubleshoot on techniques, and ask for advice and peer-to-peer support. Relevant papers, job adverts, information and resources are shared with the network. 

Support to disseminate research

Specialist communications support to showcase their research and raise their global profile. This includes being featured on our social media channels (X/Twitter, LinkedIn), but also in our annual progress magazine, Discover. We also work with research institutions’ communications departments to ensure the contribution of the future leader is reflected in their communications. 

New challenge consultation

Future leaders are an integral part of our community and as such, they are part of our global consultation and are asked to contribute to our challenge consultation.


Future Leaders Working Group 

The Future Leaders Working Group supports and guides the development of the Future Leaders Programme and supporting activities. It comprises representatives nominated by each Cancer Grand Challenges team as well as representatives from the initiatives founding partners, Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute in the US. Meet the Working Group below. 

Dr Sarah Moody
Hanifa Koguna
Amy Schade
Stefan Hutten
Raquel Blanco
Ignacio Vázquez-García
Dr Evi Karali
Shannon Doyle
Blake Sanders
Jack Sanford
Emma Brown
Garrett Lindsey
Natasha Weiser
Ghosh, Deberati
Alex Raven
Mardamshina, Mariya
Stephanie Gomez
Malcolm Holterhus