UCL Cancer Institute


ACED Project Funding Call 2023

The ACED Executive Board invites proposals for innovative collaborative research projects with funding available up to a total equivalent £500,000 (approx $630,000) for up to 36 months. Both small scale proposals of high-risk research ideas with a small amount of preliminary data and larger proposals building on previously established research, are welcomed. All applications must include named researchers from at least 2 ACED Member Centres. 

Any funding application within the remit of early detection of primary cancer will be considered, applications are particularly encouraged in the following priority areas: 

We particularly invite proposals addressing questions around clinical validation and translation to trials, as well as machine learning, AI, and computational modelling approaches to major challenges in the early detection field. 

Applications are also encouraged from the evolution of existing ACED funded research to further develop and enhance the outputs of previous awards, particularly where applicants can develop further collaborations with other ACED researchers where there is synergy across their research. 


Enabling Interception 

This priority area aims to enable early detection of pre-cancerous lesions/changes and sufficient understanding of their biology and trajectory to inform future interventional strategies (e.g. drug, immunological, surgery, ablation) to prevent their progression to cancer and intercept at the earliest time. 
Development of vaccines and therapeutics is out of scope for this funding round. 

Potential questions include but are not limited to: 

  • How and when can we intercept cancer at the earliest stage, whilst avoiding over-treatment?
  • Can we better understand the biology of pre-cancer progression to a sufficient level that interception mechanisms/targets can be identified and explored?
  • Can ACED develop organoid or other novel models to replicate pre-cancerous changes and use these for testing interception pathways?
  • Why and how do pre-malignant lesions sometimes regress and shrink whilst others progress; what aspects of biology cause this, and is there a mechanism to cause pre-cancerous changes to regress?


Hereditary Cancers and Risk

This area aims to encourage the use of cohorts with increased risk of developing cancer, or better understanding of cancer risk to target early detection programmes. 

Potential questions include but are not limited to:

  • How do we identify those with a high risk of developing cancer caused by underlying mutations in a patient’s DNA to inform early detection strategies?
  • How do individual high-risk mutations manifest; why do some high-risk individuals progress to cancer and some do not, and how can this knowledge inform early detection?
  • What learnings can be taken from hereditary cancers and underlying genetic risk to address the challenge of early detection of sporadic cancers? 


Inequalities in Cancer Early Detection

This area aims to focus on identifying, understanding and addressing the underlying causes of early detection inequalities in our diverse US and/or UK populations, looking at both avoidable (e.g. driven by environmental and societal factors) and unavoidable (e.g. driven by genetic predisposition and underlying biology) factors. 

Potential questions include but are not limited to:

  • Understanding and identifying the different drivers of cancer formation in different groups within our diverse populations (e.g. ethnicities), and therefore being able to detect and diagnose, as well as predict progression from benign to malignant, and when an intervention is needed. 
  • Developing new model systems to model biological aspects of sex, age, ethnicity, or co-conditions in different cancers, especially where clinical samples are challenging to source, to inform early detection approaches.
  • How can we close the gap between stage of diagnosis across different genetic and socioeconomic profiles?
  • Can differences in symptom presentation, reporting, access to and uptake of screening and diagnostics be addressed?


Early Detection in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) 

Related to inequalities in early detection, ACED also aims to develop early detection approaches applicable to low- and middle-income settings where there are additional considerations around limitations such as resources, access to healthcare infrastructure, geographical and political considerations and availability of technology. Combined research in these priority areas will help to ensure the provision of equitable interventions across diverse populations, both nationally and internationally, to improve outcomes for all.

Potential questions include those listed above – adapted to cancer inequalities in LMIC settings but also:

  • Can appropriate cancer early detection testing/technology be designed and introduced specifically in LMIC or low resource settings?


Applicants are strongly advised to read the guidelines and application form for further information in the first instance

Applicants are required to complete a brief “Intent to Submit” form no later than 30th November 2023.

Completed applications must be submitted in MS Word format to d.kelberman@ucl.ac.uk by 5pm on Friday 19th January 2024.

Application decisions will be announced in April/May 2024. If you have any questions please contact Dan Kelberman, UCL ACED Programme Manager (d.kelberman@ucl.ac.uk).

ACED Partners