How our researchers make the most of your donations to start new cancer cures

21st June 2021

There are hundreds of cancer charities in the UK and many of them fund research. So, what is it that makes Worldwide Cancer Research different? What sets us apart from all those other charities? And perhaps most importantly, why are we needed?

We are the only UK charity that funds discovery research into any type of cancer, anywhere in the world.

Discovery research (which is also called basic or fundamental research) is the first step in the research journey.

In practical terms, this means that our scientists are seeking to discover something entirely new about the very nature of cancer. They study cancer cells in detail, pulling them apart and finding out how they work. The knowledge gained through this research provides the foundation for all future tests and treatments for cancer.

But how do we know that what we are doing works?

One thing we can do is to look at what happens after our projects end. What did our researcher do with the findings from the project we funded? What benefit did these results ultimately provide for people with cancer? We have many amazing examples of how our research has helped start new cures for cancer.

We can also look at our research through a purely financial lens.

Simply put, every £1 we use to fund a research project will allow the scientist to secure an additional £4.43 in funding to take their idea to the next stage.

But how do we know that our research has such a good return on investment? With the help of our generous supporters, a typical project will produce new findings that answer some key questions about the nature of cancer.

These findings would then be used by the researcher (or perhaps other researchers around the world) to secure funding from other organisations who specialise in taking the research to the next stage of the journey. This would usually be funding covering a longer period and for a greater sum of money. We call this downstream funding.

Recently we spoke to all our researchers who have completed a project since 2008, to find out if they were able to secure downstream funding directly from the results of the project we funded.

The results were inspiring, with an average return on investment of 443%.

The impact of this downstream funding is best demonstrated with the research of Professor David Bowtell. In 2011, David secured £208,000 funding from Worldwide Cancer Research for an innovative research project. The results of that project were then used to help secure downstream funding elsewhere valued at over £3million.

This additional funding allowed David to pursue further research on how ovarian cancers become resistant to treatment and has since led to two clinical trials where his research is now starting to directly benefit patients.

We are the charity that starts new cancer cures.

By investing in us, you are also investing in new ideas at the very earliest stage of the research journey. That investment allows scientists around the world to lay the foundations for the development of new and more effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer – and ultimately, save lives.

Every £1 we use to fund a research project secures an additional £4.43 in funding to take the idea to the next stage of the research journey.

Help us fund more research

Further reading

Expert views

What makes us different from other cancer charities?

There are hundreds of cancer charities in the UK, so why should you choose to support us? Our Chief Executive Dr Helen Rippon explains.

28 June 2021


There has been a shocking decline in funding for discovery research

New research shows that funding for discovery research has declined by around 25% since 2006.

28 April 2021

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Cancer explained

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18 March 2021


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