23 Feb 2013

Today marks the first light in a new dawn for prostate cancer research with the news that Prostate Cancer UK has awarded over £2.7 million of new pilot awards and project grants; the first under our new 2012-2020 research strategy.

Prostate Cancer UK has already spent over £12 million on research into prostate cancer since the organisation's inception in 1996. This funding has helped lead to a number of important breakthroughs, but we know we need to do more. Thanks to our many generous supporters, including the Movember Foundation, we have committed to spending up to £25 million on research over the next three years.

The Prostate Cancer UK 2012-2020 research strategy focuses attention, financial support and resources on three key areas that need the most consideration: risk, being able to tell aggressive from non-aggressive disease, and treatment of advanced prostate cancer. All of the projects we now fund are based around one or more of these three research priorities. This targeted approach to research helps us help more men survive prostate cancer and enjoy a better quality of life.

'Our first grant round under the new research strategy attracted applications from the best scientists in the field,' said Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK. 'We are lucky to have such a community of motivated and talented professionals all champing at the bit to help us beat prostate cancer through our programme of research.'

With this grant round, we are funding both pilot awards and project grants. Pilot awards, sometimes called feasibility studies, are designed to test out theories and hypotheses on a small scale to see if they are worth both investing in and investigating further. They are often described as high risk/high reward and are a very good way of funding more speculative research.

Finding new methods and ways of attacking prostate cancer can be very much like entering a maze. Pilot grants are designed to see whether taking a particular route, for example looking at targeted immunotherapy, has the potential to be an exciting new path to explore in greater detail. Pilot grants are brilliant in this regard as they represent great value for money: even a negative result can be a positive outcome. The more projects we fund, the clearer the route through the maze becomes, helping channel our resources towards better treatments, better tests and a brighter future for men. Prostate Cancer UK is funding five pilot awards (of up to £50,000 each) this year at research institutions across the UK.

Project grants fund research projects that are looking at a very specific topic, such as how androgens drive prostate cancer growth, which is being carried out by Professor David Elliott at the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University. Project grants go into greater depth than pilot awards and as such attract a larger amount of funding. Prostate Cancer UK is funding 11 project grants this year, summaries of which can be found on our funded research page.

Every pilot award, every project grant we fund has gone through a scrupulous and thorough process of evaluation to make sure we only fund the best research. No project is even considered unless it goes towards our overall aim of beating prostate cancer.

'Taking into account our other commitments to research, including our training and fellowship awards, the Movember Centre of Excellence, and other strategic awards, we will be spending a colossal £11 million this year' said Dr Frame. 'When it comes to cracking prostate cancer, there is no better tool for the job than a dedicated programme of research.' 

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