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Empowering the world’s brightest minds

By unleashing scientific creativity on an unprecedented scale, we can transform our understanding of cancer.

Through Cancer Grand Challenges, Cancer Research UK is building a global network of partners, philanthropists and researchers who share our ambitions to make radical progress against cancer.

Together, we’re ushering in a new era of possibility by supporting the global research community to come together, think differently and solve cancer’s most complex challenges. 


Pioneering partnerships

Around the world, a community of 7 multidisciplinary teams are already receiving support from Cancer Grand Challenges.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the collective support of our partners:

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research

The Cancer Grand Challenges SPECIFICANCER team, led by Professor Steven Elledge, is jointly funded by Cancer Research UK and the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research. 

The multi-million-pound gift from this New York-based philanthropic organisation is its largest to a UK organisation to date. The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research actively partners with scientists to accelerate research that will transform the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. It fulfills its mission by supporting groundbreaking science carried out by individual investigators, multidisciplinary teams, and early-stage companies in the United States and across the globe. Established in 2017 by Alex Knaster in memory of his father, Mark, who died of cancer in 2014, the foundation maintains a nimble, high-impact approach to funding basic and translational cancer research that bridges the gap between bench and bedside through grants and venture investments.

The ambition, scale of funding and impressive advisory panel – unrivalled in its expertise – offered our young foundation an ideal opportunity.

Michele Cleary PhD, Chief Executive of The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research

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The foundation’s transformational donation supports the vision of the SPECIFICANCER team – a world-class collection of cell biologists, geneticists and computational experts from the US, the UK and the Netherlands. The team hopes to reveal the molecular mechanisms that underpin tissue specificity in tumours and exploit these discoveries to develop new ways to treat cancer.

The Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) 
Fred Falkenburg, Director of the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF)

The Dutch Cancer Society’s partnership is supporting the work of PRECISION – an expert team of pathologists, oncologists, biologists and geneticists from the Netherlands, the UK and the US. The team is investigating ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a condition that can sometimes develop into breast cancer. By developing new ways to distinguish whether a woman’s DCIS will or won’t develop into breast cancer, the team hopes to spare thousands of people from undergoing unnecessary treatment. 

Cancer Grand Challenges PRECISION team, led by Professor Jelle Wesseling, is jointly funded by Cancer Research UK and the Dutch Cancer Society. 

For more than 70 years, the Dutch Cancer Society has been committed to supporting innovative research and policy work to bring about an end to cancer. This nationwide organisation receives no government funding. Instead, it relies on its 1m donors and 100,000 volunteers and joins forces with international stakeholders to achieve its aim – a better life, with and without cancer. 

We were inspired by the ambition to bring together the best minds to find solutions to the most urgent questions in cancer research.

Fred Falkenburg, Director of the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF)

Help us to rise to the greatest challenges. To learn more about being a partner or supporting Cancer Grand Challenges, contact us.