There is an urgent need to develop new effective treatments for men with prostate cancer, particularly advanced prostate cancer, and to carry out the underpinning research to achieve this.

Improvements in therapies have been developed in the past decade, but one man still dies of prostate cancer every 15 minutes in the US, and 300,000 men die each year from prostate cancer world-wide. Innovative thinking and new approaches are required to solve this problem, and existing treatments need to be applied more effectively.

Our vision is of a world without the impact of prostate cancer.

Our Research Strategy describes how we aim to engage and empower scientists and clinicians to achieve this goal. Prostate Cancer Research recognizes that many new treatment approaches, new targets and drugs need to be discovered and translated to patient benefit.

We understand that the probability of a scientific breakthrough and achievement of our stated goals will quicken if we broaden the base of the research we fund. Our focus is on finding therapies for advanced disease but we recognize that important research is needed to develop classification systems that can be applied when treating metastatic and non-metastatic disease. We acknowledge that clues relevant to men with advanced prostate cancer may be found in the early evolution of the disease.

We are committed to the goals of health resource equality and understand that the resources of health systems and individuals are finite and would encourage research that aims to reduce the cost of prostate cancer treatment in the long term for the patients in the US & UK, primarily, but also around the world.

Targeting with a single drug or treatment currently does not cure the disease. Multiple treatments may need to be integrated for the treatment of a single prostate cancer patient. We are therefore committed to co-operating with other organizations to combine approaches, to support single outstanding projects, and to promote the careers of young scientists, who can carry the research forward with ever increasing improvements in advancement of knowledge and technologies. We are committed to continually researching and reviewing at which stage scientists find it hardest to get funding, and to considering how to adjust our strategy to improve impact across the sector.

We are committed to ethically conducted research, a robust but rapid process of scientific peer review, allowing support to be quickly directed to innovative projects with fewer non-essential or administrative encumbrances.

Our Scientific Approach

Prostate Cancer Research (PCR) is dedicated to funding research that will improve the lives of and/or cure men with prostate cancer, particularly advanced prostate cancer. By advanced prostate cancer we mean disease that has spread outside the prostate and that may become, or is already, life threatening. We will fund research that demonstrates a clear intellectual relevance to the betterment of advanced prostate cancer patients.

Funding by Prostate Cancer Research

Our ambition is to become a world center of excellence for prostate cancer research through funding excellent scientists and clinicians. Prostate Cancer Research scientists will be expected to carry out world leading research recognized for its originality, significance and rigor.

In assessing the scientific rigor of a proposal we follow AMRC guidelines and the norms of the sector. Areas of investigation should span one or more of the fields outlined here, in our Research Strategy.

All funded teams, whatever their location, are considered to be part of the core Prostate Cancer Research group. PCR grantees are expected to work as part of a collegial academic group combining resources to target important problems relevant to men with advanced disease. Over the next two years we will work on new ways to support scientists funded by PCR. New grantees will be required to develop strategically important areas of research, to build solid links to existing groups, and to add new expertise. For a detailed list of the expectations of new members click here.

We know that objective peer review in reputable scientific journals is the life blood of any research activity.

Assessing research proposals

Each research proposal will be assessed by a Grants Review Committee, incorporating a broad range of views with patient participation. Three main criteria will be used. First, scientific merit as judged against our Research Strategy and relevance to those directly affected by the disease. Secondly, collaboration with others supported by PCR. Thirdly, intellectual innovation and when appropriate, the formulation of a path to translation.

Scientific Advisory Committee

The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) consists of UK research scientists who are leading authorities in cancer research. Chaired by Professor Colin Cooper, they review funding proposals and monitor the progress of currently funded projects.

The current Committee consists of:

Professor Colin Cooper

Professor Jonathan Ashmore

Dr Richard Axelby

Dr Susanne Cruickshank

Professor Fouad Habib

Dr Edd James

Professor Maggie Knowles

Professor Anne Ridley

Dr David Wedge

Dr Tanimola Martins

Dr Mieke van Hemelrijck

When making decisions on grant proposals, the SAC considers reviews from at least two independent experts, and feedback from people directly affected by prostate cancer.

Peer Review

Peer reviewers are scientific experts, with knowledge specific to the applications they are asked to assess. Peer reviewers are independent of the charity and of the SAC, and they score applications based on scientific quality. They consider whether the applicant can deliver the promised project, the technical strengths and weaknesses of the project idea and the methodology that will be used, and its likely impact.

Our peer reviewers are never based in the same department as the scientist whose work they are assessing. We also ask them to sign a declaration stating that they have not collaborated or published with the applicant over the past three years, are not competing with the applicant, have not held grants together with the applicant over the past five years, and that there is no other reason they cannot assess the application impartially.

As a member charity of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), we operate according to the AMRC’s Principles of peer review.

Prostate Cancer Research has been awarded a certificate of best practice for our research funding process in the AMRC’s 2020 Peer Review Audit.

Patient Panel

We ask for “lay abstracts” – short project descriptions written in everyday language – to be included on all funding proposals. People affected by prostate cancer read these lay abstracts and score them, based on:

  • If the idea is explained well
  • If it is interesting, and relevant to men with prostate cancer
  • If there is anything about the proposed research which makes them feel uncomfortable

If you are a current or former prostate cancer patient, or have looked after someone with prostate cancer, and would like information on taking part in future patient panels, please email [email protected].

It is a privilege to be involved in the selection process for the funding of new projects. For men like me and for our nearest and dearest, it is essential that scientists are able to carry out the work of finding new ways to treat this potentially devastating disease. Treatments for prostate cancer have advanced at a phenomenal rate over the last few years.

Dr David Matheson
2019 PCR Patient Panel Member

Basic Science and Target Discovery

The conversion of a normal prostate cell into a life-threatening cancer cell is a complex process involving alterations in expression of thousands of many genes and changes in multiple control pathways. We seek to support projects where there is clear evidence that the target or process under investigation is central to progression from early to advanced disease, rather than a subsidiary or supporting event. Or alternatively where a specific change in the advanced cancer cell can be used as an Achilles Heel to develop a new therapy.

Re-tasking of existing drugs is another possible strategy. Based on these principles several new treatments have been cultivated over the last decade. The new therapies relieve symptoms and prolong life, but seldom cure. There is therefore a need both:

A) to enhance existing treatments to further extend life and relieve symptoms

B) to discover and develop completely novel therapeutic approaches that have the potential to result in cancer cure

Read our Research Strategy to find out about the basic science and drug discovery projects PCR currently funds:

Our Research Strategy

Read our Research Strategy to find out about the classification and drug targeting projects PCR currently funds:

Our Research Strategy

Classification and Drug Targeting (Personalized Medicine)

Prostate cancer is a clinically and molecularly heterogeneous disease. However no clear classification framework has been developed. The lack of a classification framework represents a major problem for the targeting of new therapies and in the development of personalized medicine. Stratifications have been proposed based on the presence of specific genetic alterations (e.g. ERG, ETV1, ETV4, FLI1, SPOP, FOXA1, and IDH1) and a number of rarer cancer subgroups have been defined (e.g. cribriform carcinoma, basal cell prostate cancer, neuroendocrine prostate cancer).

The clinical utility of these divisions in managing advanced disease is still under investigation, although the tailored targeting of patients with specific classes of genetic alteration (stratified medicine) represents a promising area of investigation. As is illustrated by the use of PARP inhibitors in the treatment of patients harboring BRCA mutation.

None-the-less there still is an urgent requirement for better classification frameworks that can used to assist targeting of therapies for advanced cancers, and for the development of linked tests that can be applied in the clinic, which we will consider funding.

Clinical Trials and Trial Support

A large number of clinical trials are underway aimed at testing new treatments for prostate cancer. We would like to support and develop links to existing clinical trials and help develop new clinical trials where this will allow the testing of discoveries made by Prostate Cancer Research projects.
We would also consider funding:

A) The development and use of model systems where these are required to test hypotheses and help devise new treatment as illustrated by our work at Cardiff

B) The development of new approaches for tracking and imaging cancer where improvements in monitoring the effectiveness of therapeutic approaches can be demonstrated, such as the use of PMSA staining for cancer imaging.

Our vision is to improve survival and quality of life for men who already have prostate cancer, and to find a cure for prostate cancer for the next generation of men. Accordingly we would consider supporting studies aimed at reducing the side effects of current therapies or focused on developing improved palliative care. In exceptional cases we would consider funding sociological and qualitative studies, particularly when they would lead to observations that could be subsequently tested in quantitative studies.

We recognize the value of biobanking samples from men with advanced disease and developing databases. We would welcome proposals where a well-defined benefit can be demonstrated and where there is an established link to existing PCR projects.

Read our Research Strategy to find out about the Clinical Trials and Trial Support projects PCR currently funds:

Our Research Strategy

Health Inequities

Prostate cancer is affected by a significant racial disparity and we have committed to running a series of targeted funding opportunities which will answer some of the most challenging questions underpinning the ethnic difference in prostate cancer, which affects 1 in 4 Black men, 1 in 8 White men, and 1 is 13 men of Asian origin. We will fund both biomedical and social sciences research which address the key challenges of

  1. The poor understanding of the biological and social factors underlying the racial disparity and the contribution of each
  2. The lack of representation and diversity in studies
  3. Black men facing delayed referrals and poorer experiences of cancer services
  4. The poor understanding of the fears, perceptions, and psychosocial impact of cancer in these communities
Ultimately, the outcomes we hope for are better targeted treatments and diagnostics for African American and Black British men, which are acceptable to them and which they will be able to access and adhere to. We also want to gain a better understanding of what we can implement to encourage the community to interact with both studies and the healthcare options which are available.

Germline and Early Disease

We would normally not fund research into early organ confined prostate cancer, germline alterations or the aetiology of prostate cancer. However, for outstanding studies where a strong link to advanced prostate cancer can be demonstrated we may make exceptions. We are specifically interested in research that will impact on the treatment of patients with advanced disease.

Partnerships and the Funding of Early Career Researchers

We are strongly committed to promoting the careers of young researchers.

To fulfill our goal of establishing Prostate Cancer Research as a world leading organization for curing men with advanced prostate cancer strategic, partnerships with other organizations are welcomed. Partnerships could allow us to combine approaches or provide resources that are essential for achieving our research goals but currently missing from the PCR portfolio.

I very much appreciate your understanding of how difficult it is, especially for early career researchers like me, to gather sufficient preliminary data for such big grant applications.

Dr Jorge de la Rosa
Recipient of a 2019 PCR Pilot Award

Further Information

Funding our research

PCR intends to fund research using funds raised through various fundraising activities, including events, trusts and foundations, major donors and companies.

In addition, PCR intends to partner and collaborate with other prostate cancer research and support organizations to maximize the amount of prostate cancer research that is carried out globally.

Details of grants provided by PCR

PCR intends to provide grants for research projects which are typically 3-5 years in duration.

Grants can include salary support, on costs and consumables. PCR will also be prepared to fund and support collaborations and conferences for its researchers. Additional support could be provided to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the initial grant.

Researchers supported by PCR are expected to work as part of a single collegial academic group combining resources to target important problems relevant to men with advanced disease. For a detailed list of the expectations of new members see here.

Who PCR will fund

PCR intends to fund research at highly-rated research institutions.

Applicants for major grants should at least have PhD qualification and the support of a senior researcher at their institution.

PCR focused its resources on funding research in the UK initially, including UK-based projects which collaborate internationally, including across the Atlantic, but have now expanded into the US and hope to fund more research here.

How PCR awards its grants

Initially, PCR will request interested scientists and researchers submit a short expression of interest. These will be reviewed by a Grant Review Committee and a shortlist selected. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to submit a full application which will be peer reviewed by international reviewers. Based on this, the Grant Review Committee will select successful applicants to be presented to the board for final approval. Further specific information will be provided as we launch specific funding calls.

If you have any questions, or to be kept up to date on our funding opportunities, email [email protected]

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