A message from Simon Grieveson, our Head of Research Funding

Last updated Monday 15 June 

Please note: information about coronavirus for people who have, or have had, prostate cancer, can be found here.

Covid-19 has had an impact on every aspect of life, and we know the last few weeks and months will have been challenging for you as researchers. In turn, the crisis has forced us to face our own challenges as an organisation, and many of you will have put your projects on hold and enrolled your staff on the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help minimise the financial impact of the pandemic on your research grant. I want to thank you for your cooperation and understanding at this time. You’re helping to ensure that we emerge from this crisis in the best possible shape to continue supporting your life-saving research in the months and years to come.

We’re now entering a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic where restrictions are beginning to ease, and research institutions across the country are preparing to re-open and allow certain projects to resume. We’re fully supportive of this transition and are here to help make sure your work can restart as quickly and seamlessly as possible. If you think your project may be able to restart, please let us know by emailing research@prostatecanceruk.org. You can also refer to our FAQs below for more information.

Your health and safety will remain a top priority for us as restrictions begin to ease. If you have any questions or concerns about how to resume your work while remaining safe, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll continue to closely monitor the situation and will issue further guidance to manage your Prostate Cancer UK-funded work in response to any changes in government guidelines.

Despite the gradual return to normality, we are unfortunately still anticipating a long-term drop in our income as a result of measures to contain Covid-19. As a result, future research funding decisions are still currently on hold. We are, as ever, completely committed to funding research to help us stop prostate cancer limiting men’s lives, and are doing everything we can to ensure as little disruption to our research programme as possible as the national situation unfolds. Thank you for your patience and understanding, we’ll update this page as and when our plans develop over the coming weeks.

Funded research

My project is currently on hold and I’m ready to restart. What do I need to do?

If you think your project is ready to restart, please contact us at research@prostatecanceruk.org and we’ll agree a reactivation date and confirm new project timelines with you. We’ll discuss your plans going forward, and what considerations will need to be taken into account to manage any restrictions which might affect delivery of your project (such as reduced access to your lab and reduced capacity at your institution as a result of social distancing measures).

Your project end date will automatically be extended to account for the time lost whilst your project was on hold, but we’ll consider whether a no-cost extension is also needed in addition to that time to allow the successful completion of the research. Please read our FAQ about no-cost extensions below for more information.

Staff on my project have been placed on furlough. We are now able to resume the project, so what steps do I need to take to get back up and running?

Please work with your head of department and/or HR team if you’re ready to bring staff back from furlough. Once your project is able to resume, let us know, and we’ll agree a reactivation date with you and consider whether a no-cost extension will be needed to account for time lost while your staff were furloughed. Please see our FAQ below about no-cost extensions for more information.

My project is ready to re-start but members of my team are self-isolating and unable to return to work. What should I do?

If your staff are unable to return to work, we recommend keeping your project on hold. If your project is not already on hold, contact us and we will agree a date from which the grant will be suspended and a timeline for when we will review whether the project can be re-activated. Once re-activated, the end date of the grant will automatically be extended for the corresponding duration of the suspension to give you the time needed to complete your project.

If work needs to resume while your staff are unable to return to work, let us know and we’ll help find a way for you to move forward.

Access to my lab is still prohibited, what should I do?

Please let us know if you are still unable to access your lab. If the work on your project is able to continue as planned without being significantly affected by staff working remotely, and without compromising the overall delivery of the grant, then please continue working as you are.

If your project is already on hold, we ask that it remains on hold if activity cannot continue as planned while working remotely. You should also continue to make use of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme during this period to minimise the financial impact on the charity. For further details on this scheme, including eligibility, please refer to the following guidance from the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) on how researchers whose salaries are funded by charity or commercial funders are eligible for the furlough scheme.

If your project is not currently on hold and unable to continue with remote working, then we would strongly recommend that all activity stops and the grant be put on hold until a time when you are in a position to resume. Please get in touch with the Research Team to discuss your options further.

My lab has re-opened, but at a reduced capacity and with social distancing measures in place that are likely to slow progress on my grant. What should I do?

Speak to us, and we’ll agree on a way for you to move forward with your project while managing any restrictions in place which may affect your progress. We’ll consider no-cost extensions to manage delays to your project. Please see our FAQ on no-cost extensions below for more information.

Can I request a no-cost extension to my project?

For all grants that have been put into abeyance, the duration of the suspension will automatically be added on to the end of your project to give you time to continue your research once the grant has been re-activated. If you believe you will require more time on top of this, for example due to delays related to measures to maintain social distancing once your project re-starts, we’ll consider a further no-cost extension. For other grants which are currently not on hold, we will still consider no-cost extension requests to make up for any delay to the project, as long as the additional time is suitably justified and there remains sufficient funds on the grant to cover the additional time and activity.

Please don’t apply for the extension any sooner than three months before the end date of your grant, so that all factors can be considered and multiple requests for the same award can be avoided. All requests for extensions should be made prior to your award end date and you must complete and return a change request form. To do this, please email the Research Team.

Will you be offering costed extensions?

Over the past few months we appreciate that not all projects will not have progressed as originally planned, whilst some costs, particularly salary costs, have continued to accrue. This is why we strongly recommended every practical step was taken to minimise grant expenditure during this time, including making use of the Government Job Retention Scheme.

Unfortunately, we’re facing major fundraising challenges due to Covid-19 and the associated measures put in place to contain the virus, and are experiencing a significant drop in income. Therefore, despite our desire to support you in completing the work we have funded, we are unable to commit to providing costed extensions at this point. If you think that elements of your project are at risk of not being completed due to insufficient funds (as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic) then please contact us to discuss your options.

I’m running a clinical trial which was halted due to Covid-19. What do I need to do to get the trial back up and running?

Please refer to guidance from the NIHR on restarting your clinical research. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to support you with getting your research up and running as soon as possible. Please contact us when your project is ready to restart and we will discuss the next steps with you.

We understand there will be instances where there are likely to be lengthy delays to restarting clinical research due to safety precautions related to Covid-19. Please keep us updated with the timeframes you expect to be able to restart your research, and let us know about any delays you anticipate. 

What should I do if there’s a second wave of Covid-19 cases and my work is restricted by an increase in social distancing measures?

We’re fully supportive of you returning to your research as soon as you can, but your safety and wellbeing remain our top priority. We’re continuing to closely monitor the situation and if necessary will issue further guidance to help you manage your work in light of any changes to measures implemented nationally or by your institution.

What advice do you have for clinical academics who are returning to their research after supporting the front-line efforts against COVID-19?

Many clinical academics supporting the front-line clinical services during this time are now beginning to return to their training and research activities. The UK Clinical Academic Training Forum (CATF) has set out guidance for academic trainees, their clinical and research supervisors, and their institutions to support the return to clinical and research training.

In addition, the Academy of Medical Sciences have published some useful materials to support clinical academics during this time.

What’s your policy on sick leave?

If you or any of your team become unwell or need to self-isolate, we will follow the employing organisation’s own policy on sick leave and absence. In accordance with the terms of your contract, your institution should cover the costs of any long-term sick leave of staff funded on the grant.

I’ve been awarded a grant but haven’t yet started my project. When am I able to activate the grant?

Due to the uncertain and challenging circumstances we find ourselves in, we strongly recommend that any new projects that have not yet started delay commencing until a time when it can be carried out unhindered and as originally planned.

If you think your project is ready to begin as planned, please contact us and we will work with you to agree a start date.

Funding calls

What impact will Covid-19 have on Prostate Cancer UK’s upcoming funding calls?

We are taking every step we can to mitigate and minimise the impact of the current situation to our research programme. However, in these unprecedented times, we unfortunately have had to make some difficult decisions. Below you’ll find our plans for each of our upcoming funding calls. We will regularly review our position on each of these calls as the national situation evolves.

Research Innovation Awards

We’ve made the difficult decision to postpone our current round of Research Innovation Awards. These awards rely on our ability to fundraise, and unfortunately we are anticipating a long-term drop in our income as a result of the Covid-19 and the measures to contain it. We will review matters again in October as to whether we will be in a position to continue with this current grant round.

We are completely committed to funding research to help us stop prostate cancer limiting men’s lives, and are doing everything we can to minimise the disruption to our research programme. We appreciate all the time and effort that has gone into applications to date, and sincerely apologise that we can’t move forward with our funding process at this time.

There will also be a delay to the launch of the next round of the Research Innovation Awards. Information on this round will be provided on our website and via our research newsletter in due course.

Movember Prostate Cancer UK Major Awards in Curative Treatments

Applications are now open for Movember Prostate Cancer UK Major Awards in Curative Treatments. This new call aims to fund research that can improve the outcomes for men treated in the curative setting. This can be research that helps men select the most appropriate treatment for them, research aimed at increasing the effectiveness of initial treatment in terms of cancer control, or research focused on reducing side effects from initial treatment, without reducing cancer control.

If you have previously applied to our 2019 Research Innovation Awards, which we have made the difficult decision to postpone due to uncertainty around our ability to raise the funds for them, you are welcome to transfer your application to our Major Awards in Curative Treatments call if it fits within the remit of this call. Please contact the Research Team at Prostate Cancer UK to discuss whether this is something you wish to do.

The deadline for submissions is 12pm (noon), 19 October 2020. Find out more and apply here.

Upcoming events

Making Progress Day

In light of current events, we’ve decided to reschedule Making Progress Day, our annual networking event for early career researchers, to Friday 4 December 2020. We sincerely hope that current health advice will allow us to run the event in December, but if we have any concerns for the health and wellbeing of our attendees, we will look to reschedule again. To keep up to date with the latest developments, please follow our research newsletter.

You can find out more information about the day and register your place on our website. If you have already registered for the event, please get in touch with the Research Team to confirm if you would still like to join us in December. We look forward to seeing you then.