Skip to main content
An official website of the United States government

Cancer Grand Challenges Attracts Global Attention

, by Dr. Dinah S. Singer

Dinah Singer, Ph.D.

NCI Deputy Director for Scientific Strategy and Development

With just a few months left to submit an Expression of Interest, Dr. Dinah S. Singer is encouraging the cancer research community to consider organizing into multidisciplinary teams and formulate research plans around the nine challenges posed in the Cancer Grand Challenges program. This blog also highlights the recent joint preapplication webinar that was held to answer questions about how to prepare and submit applications with research ideas.     

The excitement was palpable as more than 600 people from the cancer community joined the Cancer Grand Challenges webinar. They logged on from across the United States, throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, and around the globe. Their goal during the January 12 event: learn more about a new partnership—Cancer Grand Challenges—to tackle some of the most complex and compelling cancer research challenges and hear details about how to prepare and submit applications with their research ideas.

You may recall the September 2020 blog where I shared news of the partnership between NCI and Cancer Research UK to fund research to address some of the most profound, unresolved questions that limit efforts to understand, prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. Since announcing the partnership in August, Cancer Research UK and NCI posed nine challenges to the global research community. 

Now we are seeking bold and compelling research plans from multidisciplinary, multinational teams to solve these challenges. Through Cancer Grand Challenges, NCI and Cancer Research UK plan to award approximately $25 million over five years to each of four international teams to execute their research plans. 

During the January 12 webinar, NCI and Cancer Research UK fielded questions from researchers who are currently organizing into teams and are formulating research plans. If you missed the webinar, that’s not a concern. You can view the event on the Cancer Grand Challenges website. And, if you have questions that the webinar does not address, you can submit them by email to

The January 12 webinar is one of many approaches NCI and Cancer Research UK are using to increase awareness of our Cancer Grand Challenges initiative and stimulate creative applications from the research community. 

For example, NCI Director Ned Sharpless, M.D., and Cancer Research UK Executive Director for Research and Innovation Iain Foulkes, Ph.D., recently published a commentary in Cancer Discovery that details the nine challenges and the opportunity they represent to promote a “new era of discovery.” Their commentary emphasized the potential of Cancer Grand Challenges to harness “the power of global scientific benefit entire scientific fields.” 

By joining forces, NCI and Cancer Research UK are working to accelerate the pace of cancer science by stimulating scientific creativity of the highest caliber. Together, we will fund research that offers the potential for bold advances in cancer science to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer.

Launch of Cancer Grand Challenge Questions 10/14/2020
Submit Expression of Interest 04/22/2021

Announcement of Those Selected to Submit Full Application

Deadline to Submit Full Applications Fall 2021
Interviews 12/2021
Final Teams Publicly Announced 2022
< Older Post

NCI’s New Fiscal Year Brings Old Fiscal Challenges

Newer Post >

Funding from Congress Allows NCI to Raise Grants Payline

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “Cancer Grand Challenges Attracts Global Attention was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”