To make sure that PCR will have the most impact, we need to step back, analyze the entire landscape and evaluate whether what we are doing has the most bang for buck and is creating the best world possible for our community. We are currently fundraising for a US Prostate Cancer Ecosystem Report.

Read on to learn about what we found from our UK Ecosystem Review.

Summary UK Review Findings



Researchers at all career stages struggle to get funding for innovative ideas

Knowledge Gaps

Knowledge Gaps

A number of significant gaps in our scientific knowledge of prostate cancer are slowing down better outcomes for patients

Young Scientists

Young Scientists

Early Career Researchers (ECR) face significant challenges in getting funding, establishing their careers, transitioning to the next stage, and establishing collaborations and networks

Golden Triangle

Golden Triangle

In the UK, most funding, and the majority of clinical trials, are heavily concentrated within the ‘Golden Triangle’ of London-Oxford-Cambridge

What we still don’t know about prostate cancer

Better understanding of prostate cancer will lead to new treatments, and using current treatments more effectively. Our review of peer-reviewed scientific articles identified the following gaps in our scientific knowledge of prostate cancer.

Underlying Biology

Underlying Biology

We need more understanding of the wider role of specific signaling pathways in prostate cancer and treatment resistance.



We need to know more about why cancer spreads to bone and how to stop it, how to keep hormone therapy working for longer, and how to make immunotherapy work for prostate cancer.



We need a more accurate test for prostate cancer, and more certainty about which prostate cancers need treatment and which do not.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Mitigating the harms caused by side effects of current prostate cancer treatment must be a priority.

Our complete review of the medical literature spans basic research into the biology of the disease, drugs and treatments that are in development and evaluation of the current standard of care treatments.

Though deeply caring, Urological teams have little comprehension of the physical and psychological impact of incontinence particularly in social and daily living. No medication or properly satisfactory treatment for incontinence exists and penile clamps, convenes and catheters are painful, barely effective and encourage infection.

What we are doing about knowledge gaps

Some of our current projects are focusing on significant knowledge gaps. We also highlighted the knowledge gaps identified by this analysis as particular areas of interest in our 2020 grant call. Almost 40% of applications pertained to one or more of these areas, demonstrating that there are researchers with bright ideas willing to tackle these knowledge gaps, if funding is made available for them to do it.

We will continue to monitor knowledge gaps and to adjust our approach where appropriate to meet them..
Where prostate cancer shares a knowledge gap or unmet need with another disease, we will seek to develop a partnership to tackle it with other charities in that space. It is clear to us that charities could have much more impact if we worked together, and if we worked together with government.

Challenges for Younger Scientists

Early Career Researchers (ECRs) face a number of challenges, including job security, attracting funding, and forming networks and collaborations.

For our purposes an ECR is a researcher who is within a few years of the successful completion of their PhD, who has recently become an independent researcher (e.g. through a fellowship), or who is taking their first steps towards establishing their own research area (e.g. pre-fellowship).

Responses to PCR survey, 2020, on whether it is harder to get funding at a specific career stage.

Fair Recognition

Retaining young researchers in science is about more than just funding. To that end, we have significantly tightened up our Grant Terms and Conditions on dignity and respect in the workplace, and fair recognition for the work of scientists at all career stages.

Feasible Funding

Younger scientists working full-time on a more established researcher’s project often lack both the capacity and resources to develop their own research data and generate the data they need to apply for funding in their own name. Our pilot grants are of sufficient value to cover the salary and consumables for an ECR, so that they can serve as stepping stones to them developing an independent area of research.

Events and Training

This year, we arranged a scientist networking event, and training in the patent system. These benefitted all of our researchers, but particularly scientists earlier in their career, who have not had the opportunity to develop these networks or skills yet. We will continue to organize networking and collaboration events and training for PCR scientists.

Why we care about innovation

Major breakthroughs often come from unexpected places

We are now prepared to support more ambitious ideas in the hope of bigger breakthroughs, accepting that may mean more failures along the way.

Fostering innovation and high-risk, high-reward research is possibly our greatest challenge in an established sector which can be risk-averse. We will commit to continually assessing our grant calls to ensure they are compatible with high-risk, high-reward proposals.

Positives to a Research Career

Responses to 2020 PCR survey on the main positives in a research career

Barriers to Research

Responses to 2020 PCR survey asking scientists if they perceived barriers to research in the UK

The Golden Triangle

Research spend in the UK is heavily concentrated in London, Oxford, and Cambridge.

Our mission is that together, we will develop and deliver breakthrough medicines and treatments for prostate cancer. We will continue to work hard to guard against institution and location bias, and ensure that we are funding the best scientists and the best ideas, irrespective of where they are based.

Analysis of the NCRI Cancer Research Database (CaRD) shows that prostate cancer research funding in the UK is significantly concentrated within the golden triangle.

We gratefully acknowledge the NCRI, particularly Dr Alexander Renziehausen and Abdul Mutabbir, for their assistance with the CaRD data.

Clinical trials, which represent both investment in the research pipeline and an opportunity for patients to receive innovative new therapies, are also concentrated within the golden triangle.

PCR analysis of current prostate cancer clinical trials.

You can access our full UK report here

Having built an evidence-base for some of the challenges which affect both prostate and other cancers, we are even more committed to working in partnership with others to solve these challenges and create a more robust pipeline between excellent science and patient benefit, and to support the careers of the scientists on whom research progress depends.

Dr Naomi Elster
Head of Research and Communications, PCR

We are currently fundraising for a full US report! This will help us understand where our money is best spent for American prostate cancer patients

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