Cancer Research UK Publish Open Letter to Researchers

Tuesday, 7 April, 2020

Cancer Research UK’s (CRUK’s) Executive Director of Research & Innovation, Iain Foulkes, Chief Scientist, Professor Karen Vousden, and their Chief Clinician, Professor Charles Swanton, have published an open letter to researchers about how they are responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

CRUK funds approximately 50% of all cancer research in the UK. In order to ensure they can continue to have this leading role in the long term, CRUK are taking the following steps:

  • Reducing their operational costs as much as possible and freezing recruitment
  • Their Executive Board has taken a 20% pay cut and they’re entering consultation with their staff to apply a similar reduction to their salaries and enrol a substantial number of people onto the government’s new furlough scheme.

There will also be immediate action in reducing their spending on research funding. CRUK’s institutes and existing response-mode funding will be cut by 5–10% and their centres and wider infrastructure by up to 20% this year.

New funding commitments will also be postponed, meaning no new research projects will be funded for at least the first half of this year.

The letter explained the flexible approach CRUK are taking to protect studentships:

“We want to preserve the work and resources that will be most difficult to recover once lost and we want to avoid losing a generation of cancer researchers. For these reasons, we have decided to protect funding for studentships (clinical and non-clinical) as best we can. We’re offering our current grantholders increased flexibility to manage their grants, and we’re also giving our centres and institutes the flexibility to decide how to use their reduced pool of money to protect what’s most important in delivering their research.

“We’ll be directly contacting everyone affected by the cuts. If we haven’t spoken to you already, we’ll be in touch over the next two weeks. We also welcome further thoughts and ideas from the community about how we can support them within the current constraints – please reach out to your usual CRUK contact.”

CRUK are working with other charities and the government to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the charity sector. They’re also exploring innovative fundraising initiatives to rebuild income and enable future investment in cancer research.

 

As the situation evolves, RESEARCHconnect will continue to report on any support measures as and when they are announced.

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