Queen Letizia of Spain visits Cancer Research UK

Working in partnership 

Cancer Research UK’s partnership with AECC and AIRC began in 2016.  

Since then, they have worked together to co-fund the Accelerator Awards, which have helped to forge some strong relationships between leading institutions in the UK, Spain and Italy. 

Also at the forefront of international collaboration in cancer research is Cancer Grand Challenges, a unique funding initiative co-founded by Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute in the US. 

Cancer Grand Challenges aims to accelerate high impact research and translate discoveries for public and patient benefit by transforming how team science is conducted. 

Since it was founded in 2020, the Cancer Grand Challenges has committed over $270 million to its community of over 700 investigators and collaborators across 10 countries. 


One of the Cancer Grand challenges teams, the PROMINENT team, is funded by Cancer Research UK, the NCI, and the AECC.  

The team is taking on the normal phenotypes challenge – to understand how cells and tissues maintain “normal” phenotypes whilst harbouring mutations that could cause cancer, and how they transition to become a tumour. 

The team is investigating an alternative theory about the very early stages of cancer development called the promoter hypothesis – seeking to answer important questions about how tumours start and find new ways to prevent the disease. 

With researchers from the US, UK, France and Spain and across 6 institutions globally, the team are using a unique collection of resources. This includes a tissue bank of more than 4,000 mouse samples across all stages of tumour formation, and an extensively annotated collection of pairs of tumour and healthy tissue samples provided by more than 5,000 people across 20 countries.   



Cancer Grand Challenges also recently announced the international teams shortlisted for its fourth round of funding 

Their 12-team shortlist covers 8 of the new challenges announced in March, and spans 84 institutions in 18 countries, uniting more than 130 world-class investigators and researchers.  

The teams now compete for £20m ($25m) each to take on some of the most complex problems in cancer today. 

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