Putting our region's cancer needs first

Research Strategy


1. The Focus of Our Research

North West Cancer Research is the only independent cancer charity dedicated to putting our region’s cancer needs first, funding pioneering research to tackle the cause, improve the care and find the cure for cancer. We focus on the types of cancer that affect people living across North West England and North Wales the most.

Our focus is on improving cancer outcomes for people in our region. We will continue to focus on funding life-saving research of the highest quality to make the biggest difference, but we will also seek to further understand our region and what makes some specific cancers more common here. Our research will not be limited to one part of the research pipeline, or to a single discipline. Instead, we will seek to make resources available to advance knowledge and the application of that knowledge from the earliest part of discovery through to translational research and applied, patient-based studies. We want to understand what causes the raised levels of cancer incidence we see in our region and work.

Through research, we will work to improve diagnosis, treatments and the care for people with cancer. We will ensure that everything we do is focused on delivering impact for the people of our region and patients within our region. Our goal is that through our work, deaths through cancer are reduced in our region. Within all of our funding, we will ensure that projects are of benefit to the people of our region, looking at the cancer types or problems which are of most significance to our communities.

Working in partnership with others, we can fund more and achieve more for the good of the region. Whenever possible, we will work closely with partners, including universities, health trusts, clinicians, public health teams, other charities and others to achieve aims.


2. Our organisational strategy

North West Cancer Research has agreed it will focus on three key areas:

1. Understanding our region – To underpin our strategy and our work, we will seek to understand cancer in our region and in particular:

• Why overall cancer rates are higher than the national average
• Why we have a greater prevalence of particular tumour groups
• The cancer and health inequalities which exist in and between our communities
• The barriers to information, treatment, care and support in our region

We will ensure that this information is available to clinicians, Public Health teams, commissioners and patient groups across the region to enable them to improve their services.

2. Undertaking research – We will fund pioneering research to tackle the cause, improve the care and find the cure for cancer.

Our research will not be limited to one part of the research pipeline, or to a single discipline but rather we will seek to make resources available to advance knowledge and the application of that knowledge from the earliest part of discovery through translational research to the development of treatments for cancer.

North West Cancer Research is working to ensure a cancer-free future. We aim to first minimise the impact of the condition on the lives of individuals, to improve care and treatment, and seeking over time to prevent the disease from occurring. This will only be possible through a broad spectrum of research, from the earliest theoretical discoveries to applied and patient-based studies. In recent years, many charities and funders have turned away from basic scientific research, but without a continual pipeline from this, later and more applied research will eventually dry-up.

3. Education and awareness – North West Cancer Research will carry out activities which help to make the public within our region aware of the causes and symptoms of cancer and how to protect their own health.

North West Cancer Research will use its knowledge, skills and credibility in order to provide simple and accurate health messaging which will assist the people of the region in making healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of getting cancer during their lifetime. Where possible, we will do this in tandem with partners in order to fit with the messages of public health teams and others. We will use as a model for this our cooperation with the Liverpool Awareness and Early Detection Initiative and the way that we have been able to work as a part of their annual messaging cycle.


3. Our funding decisions are grounded on a number of key principles

a. Focus - Research we fund must have an impact on people within our region.

b. Investment - We will make the necessary investments to ensure effective cancer research for the people of the region. We will support the best people and the highest quality science.

c. Partnership - We will adopt a dynamic and participatory approach to all our partnerships to achieve the greatest impact. We will encourage collaboration between researchers at our funded institutes in order to create the best possible research environment.

d. Communication – Projects will need to include a lay summary to explain the aims and scope of the project. Researchers are expected to participate in outreach events to explain their work to members of the charity and the public. We believe that this is important for the future of cancer research in our region.

e. Impact – projects which we fund will be asked to demonstrate their potential for impact and relevance to our aims and will need to complete a report on this at the end of the research.


4. Types of Funding Available

The Charity will fund a broad spectrum of research projects including the following:
• Research development funding to enable the production of data to support hypotheses
• Project funding including lab-based research projects, projects which consider the impact of cancer, clinical trials, patient studies or projects which consider the societal causes of cancer
• Studentships (BSc, MSc, MRes and PhD) in research areas relevant to cancer in our region
• Strategic research to enable the development of early careers along with fellowships when funding allows


5. Principles of Scientific Review

As members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), North West Cancer Research has a robust application and peer review process. All applications for funding are subject to rigorous peer review, with recommendations being made by our Scientific Advisory Group. Research is funded following the five main principles: accountability, balance, independent decision making, rotation and impartiality.


6. Review

This Research Strategy will be reviewed annually.