Behind the scenes of giving cancer research the green light
Our Pre-Awards team are getting ready for our Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting this month. Grants Administrator, Yvonne, gave us an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the run up to the meeting in Edinburgh and why it’s not just about drinking tea and eating lots of cake!
"Helen and I are struggling to believe that the meeting is upon us already, it doesn’t seem six months since last time we all gathered in Edinburgh to make the key decisions on which great science to fund next. Where has the time gone?"
"Way back in September we opened our online application system, welcoming new scientist from across the globe, all hoping for a chance to secure vital funding for their early-stage research. Our friendly team were kept busy sharing knowledge on the who, what, where and when of our grant funding …and holding some hands through the submission process. By the 30th October submission deadline, 360 grant applications were received from a range of eminent and promising researchers.
"Early November saw the pre-awards team chained to their desks, heads down, no chit-chat, very little tea drinking and basically no cake eating. All the applications were scrutinised to ensure that they were completed fully and correctly before being validated for compliance with our funding strategy and policies. A few applications failed to pass this initial hurdle but the vast majority went on to be reviewed by our amazing SAC members in their preliminary triage.
"The pre-awards team spent December massaging the shoulders of our experts, assisting and encouraging them to complete their triage and finishing 2015 with 129 grant applications going forward to our meeting next week. This is the point in the grant round when the SAC pass their workload back over to us. We endeavour to secure agreements from three external peer reviewers (more experts in the field of research) for every application still under consideration in the grant round.
"Throughout January and February, Lynn and the team secured around 400 scientists to read Worldwide Cancer Research grant applications and provide detailed comments on strengths and weaknesses of the proposed research. Now, in the final month of the grant round, we have 380 reviews returned and a few due in the next couple of days. We are delighted and relieved that we will meet the standards set by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and will actually exceed it for nearly 90% of our applications.
“The highlight is yet to come when the SAC members sit down together to fund what they believe to be the best research and help scientists from all over the world find the answers to cancer."