There has been a shocking decline in funding for discovery research

28th April 2021

New research shows that funding for discovery research has declined by around 25% since 2006. This type of research is a vital part of the research journey that starts with new ideas in the lab and ends with new cures for cancer. It's vital that funding is maintained in this area to provide hope for the future for the millions of people who are affected by cancer.

The findings, published in the Journal of Global Oncology, show that between 2006 and 2018 the percentage of annual funding from public and third sector organisations around the world going into discovery cancer research fell by around a quarter (or 10 percentage points). In comparison, the findings show a clear increase in the percentage of annual funding globally going towards translational or clinical cancer research.

This figure includes all non-National Institutes for Health (NIH) partner funding data collected by the International Cancer Research Partnership (ICRP) - an active network of cancer research funding organizations, sharing information about funded research projects in a common database.

Dr Lynn Turner, Director of Research at Worldwide Cancer Research and co-author of the study, said:

“We recognise that all aspects of the research journey have an important role to play delivering new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. But the shift away from discovery research towards later stage research is worrying because it could hinder our progress to start new cancer cures of the future.

“Without this blue-sky thinking we wouldn’t have the foundations in place to develop new treatments or tests for cancer. There is still so much we don’t know about the fundamental biology of cancer and the move away from this type of research could lead to a knowledge gap. That’s why Worldwide Cancer Research will continue to dedicate its funding to discovery research and starting new cures for cancer.”

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