Cancer Research UK Awards Six U.S. Scientists $87 Million as Part of ‘Grand Challenge’


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Cancer Research UK has announced that six leading American scientists are among the winners of a global competition to help overcome the biggest challenges facing cancer research. The initial $87 million “Grand Challenge” fund will be distributed across 4 international teams of academics from 6 prominent U.S. institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

About the Grand Challenge

Rick Klausner, MD

Rick Klausner, MD

The Grand Challenge is unique in its approach to identifying and addressing critical issues through international, multidisciplinary team research on a scale never before undertaken in cancer. The initiative—established by Cancer Research UK—has been steered by a panel of researchers chaired by Rick Klausner, MD, former Director of the National Cancer Institute.

The projects funded by the award are set to revolutionize the understanding of cancer and how to better prevent, diagnose, and treat the disease globally. Research will focus on the following topics:

  • Imaging and Molecular Annotation of Xenografts and Tumors: Led by Ed Boyden, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Xiaowei Zhuang, PhD, of Harvard University
  • Mutographs of Cancer: Led by Ludmil B. Alexandrov, PhD, MPhil, of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Allan Balmain, PhD, FRS, of the University of California San Francisco
  • Preventing Ductal Carcinoma in Situ Invasive Overtreatment (cofunded with the Dutch Cancer Society): Led by Alastair M. Thompson, MB ChB, MD, FRCSEd, and Phillip Andrew Futreal, PhD, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Sir Harpal Kumar, MA, MEng, MBA, DSc (Hon)

Sir Harpal Kumar, MA, MEng, MBA, DSc (Hon)

Sir Harpal Kumar, MA, MEng, MBA, DSc (Hon), Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, said: “Cancer Research UK set up the Grand Challenge to bring a renewed focus and energy to the fight against cancer. We want to shine a light on the toughest questions that stand in the way of progress. We’re incredibly excited to be able to support these teams as they help us achieve our ambition. Cancer is a global problem, and these projects are part of the global solution. Together, we will redefine cancer, turning it from a disease that so many people die from to one that many people can live with. We will reduce the number of people worldwide affected by cancer and achieve our goal of beating cancer sooner.”

Dr. Klausner, Chair of the Grand Challenge Advisory Panel, continued: “When we began the Grand Challenge, we sought scientific adventurers—people willing to come together in new ways to think differently and bring novel approaches to answer the big questions in cancer. These unique teams have done just that. Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge is helping us change the way we to tackle it—bringing together different disciplines, ideas, and people on a global scale. We’ve got our sights set on the horizon of discovery, and I’m confident these Grand Challenge teams will lead to life-changing results.”

For more information on the Grand Challenge initiative, visit cruk.org/grandchallenge. ■


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