Clinical OMICS

MAR-APR 2017

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Page 4 of 47 March/April 2017 Clinical OMICs 3 (continued on next page) News Up for the Challenge Cancer Research UK Grants £71M to Four Grand Challenge Research Teams Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief L ondon-based cancer charity Cancer Research UK (CRUK) named four teams as inaugural grant recipients in its £100 million Grand Challenge research initiative, which seeks to "overcome the biggest challenges facing cancer researchers in a global effort to beat cancer sooner." In total, the four international teams will receive up to £71 million, and will conduct innovative research to identify unknown causes of cancer, prevent unnecessary breast can- cer treatments, study tumor metabolism, and create virtual reality tumor maps. Launched in late 2015, the Grand Challenge brought together a panel of the world's leading cancer experts to identify the seven most significant problems in cancer research. According to Harpal Kumar, chief executive of CRUK, the original intent was for CRUK to choose one research group in the first round to address one of the seven cancer research challenges and provide up to £20 million over five years to fund their work. But those plans soon changed after the organization received applications from 56 teams, spanning 200 research organizations, hailing from 25 countries, and representing more than 400 separate research groups. "Having initially expected to fund just one of these teams in the first round, we were so blown away by the quality of what we saw that, through some additional philanthropy, [and] through a new partnership with the Dutch Cancer Society, we have now seen a way to funding four of these proposals," said Kumar. The chair of the advisory panel for the Grand Challenge initiative is former National Cancer Institute director Rich- ard Klausner, M.D. In a press briefing announcing the first four award recipients, Dr. Klausner said he believes the structure and scope of the initiative breaks the mold of how cancer research is traditionally funded. "Largely because of how we fund science globally—not least of which from the institution I used to run—we fund projects," Dr. Klausner said. "Some organizations fund peo- ple, but mostly we fund projects. And they are mostly small projects—none of which represents the essence of why sci- entists are scientists, why people are drawn to work in can- cer. That is: they are drawn not to do projects, but to solve problems." These grants, Klausner continued, would allow scientists to have the freedom, flexibility, funding, and connections to work with other researchers as a team. Cancer Research UK (CRUK) had intended to make only one award this year in its £100 million Grand Challenge research initiative, but expanded that to four awards based on the overall strength of the 56 applications it received.

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