Call for Applications: FAST Early Detection of Cancer


Deadline: 26 May 2020 at 17:00


Being able to detect and diagnose cancer earlier is important if we are to reduce cancer mortality rates and improve patient outcomes. Many cancers are most successfully treated when diagnosed earlier, leading to dramatic increases in five- and ten-year patient survival. However, the most recent data available from 2014 suggests that almost half of all cancers are diagnosed at a late stage in England and Northern Ireland. Early detection research seeks to enable the detection of consequential cancer, or pre-cancerous states, at the earliest possible time point at which an intervention might be made. Cancer Research UK (CRUK) have recently carried out a multi-sector stakeholder consultation on the key research interventions that are needed to make a step-change in early detection of cancer. In collaboration with CRUK, the EPSRC FAST Healthcare NetworksPlus organised workshop focussing on three areas of research that emerged from the CRUK consultation which are of particular relevance to engineering and physical sciences.

The aim of this Call is to build new research collaborations across disciplines and organisations which address the specific outcomes from this Workshop Report on Early Detection of Cancer research which the FAST NetworksPlus has produced. This should lead on to a more substantial research programme which enhances research in the UK that aligns with the EPSRC’s Healthcare Technologies Theme.

Awards are limited to a maximum of £56,000 (based on a funding rate of 80% of full economic cost) and should last no more than 6 months. The Management Committee expect to make up to two awards.

What We Fund
Awards are limited to a maximum value of £56,000 at 80% of full economic cost (i.e £70,000 full economic cost) and must have a duration of no more than 6 months. Smaller and shorter projects are welcomed. Value for money will be one of the selection criteria, and applicants are expected to demonstrate this in their proposal. The funding is intended to cover the cost of employing a post-doctoral research associate for up to 6 months full time equivalent with a small additional budget for consumables and reasonable travel or online meeting costs associated with building a new research collaboration. Items of equipment costing more than
£10,000 (including VAT) cannot be funded from the grant. There is very limited funding available to support directly allocated staff costs. Proposals should enable a new research collaboration to form between participants who have not been able to formally work together before. Investigators must therefore be from different disciplines and/or different institutions. Proposals must not be dependent on other funding that has not been secured at the time of application.

How We Will Select the Project
Proposals that are within the scope of this Call (as determined by the FAST Healthcare Management Committee) will be assessed by a panel of Network members with CRUK. The assessment criteria include:
• Fit with the FAST Healthcare Early detection of Cancer Research Roadmap 1
o Evidence that the project addresses a real clinical opportunity through engineering and physical sciences research
• Fit with the overall aims of the FAST Healthcare NetworksPlus
o The formation of new research collaborations
o The engagement of early-career researchers
o To make a positive impact on the economics and clinical outcomes of public
healthcare provision
• The credibility that the project would lead on to a lasting collaborative research activity involving the participants
• The academic quality of the proposal
o Clarity of the proposal in terms of work plan and deliverables
o Realism of the project’s objectives given the scale of the project
o Value for money
o Ability of the academic team to deliver the project

Selected Projects
The projects that are selected for funding will form part of the EPSRC FAST Healthcare NetworksPlus project portfolio, and the Investigators, researchers and project will be listed on the FAST Healthcare website. To ensure the maximum impact from each grant awarded, the FAST Healthcare NetworksPlus may appoint an Evaluation Panel and Action Team to support the transfer of the project into a long-term collaborative research programme. The FAST  Healthcare NetworksPlus will enter into a specific collaboration agreement including mutually agreed IP arrangements for each project.

Key Dates
• Call launch: Tuesday, 28th April 2020
• Closing date for applications: 5:00 pm on Tuesday, 26th May 2020
• Award announced: late June 2020
• Projects are expected to start 1 August 2020

Further Information
For more details about the FAST Healthcare NetworksPlus, visit the website at

How to Apply
To apply, please complete an application form and return it to by 5:00pm on Monday, 1st June 2020. 

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