Career Development Fellowship

About this scheme

Key information

Career level
Post doc
Early career researcher
Research area
All research areas
Early diagnosis
Cancer prevention
Cancer biology
Preliminary submission
Committee review
Funding period
6 years, or part-time equivalent
Funding amount
Typically up to £1.5m (including salaries, running expenses and equipment for you and up to two posts)

Scheme aim

The Career Development Fellowship supports new group leaders who do not have a salaried independent position to establish their own independent research group.

Applications are considered from any area of our funding remit, including population, prevention and early detection/diagnosis research, but with the exception of any interventional clinical study/trial and drug discovery.

You should:

  • Have space and facilities to run an independent research group
  • Be able to demonstrate that you meet the range of skills and experience as outlined in the ‘establishing independence’ career stage in our Fellowships Competency Framework

You should not have:

  • Already received funding to set up your research group
  • A core-funded Group Leader position at one of our Institutes*

Some other locations are not eligible; please contact us before starting your application to check your host institution is covered.

If your salary is fully funded by your host institution you may be eligible to apply for a Career Establishment Award. If you are a clinician, please consider our funding opportunities for clinical academic career development.

Career breaks, flexible working, changes in discipline and other personal circumstances will be taken into consideration when assessing your record of outputs, research achievements and career progression.

*You may apply to hold a Fellowship at a CRUK Institute provided that you are not in receipt of core funding concurrently to the Fellowship.

Please refer to the documents in the section 'How to apply to this scheme' for the latest guidance.

In these guidelines, we have set clearer expectations for organisations hosting CRUK-funded fellows, to ensure access to training, career progression support, and a clear and transparent commitment towards CRUK fellows' future career trajectory at the host institution.

Funding support is provided for up to six years, or equivalent duration for part-time working.

We're very supportive of part-time working and for a Career Development Fellowship we expect at least 0.5 FTE or 80% of your working hours, whichever is greater, to be spent on academic research. Find out more about how we support part-time working and extended leave in our flexible working policies.

We updated our guidelines for this scheme in November 2021. Please refer to the documents in the section 'How to apply to this scheme' for the latest guidance.

Funding will cover:

  • Your salary.
  • Salaries and running expenses for up to two posts. You may choose from a postdoctoral researcher, a technician and/or a (non-clinical) PhD student.
  • Associated running expenses
  • Equipment costs up to £25,000
  • Relocation costs up to £1,000 if you wish to take up your fellowship at a new host institution (see application guidelines for more details)
  • EMBO Lab Leadership for Group Leaders course: we encourage you to attend this course to gain crucial skills to run your own independent research group. Available as either an in-person (in Germany, please check with the Office for future limited UK spaces) or online course. Please see the EMBO website for more information, including costs.

An annual salary enhancement of £6,500 is paid each year of the funding period.

Additional support

Our fellowships offer a range of benefits beyond funding, including access to networking and training opportunities, flexible working policies and an accelerated route through the Tier 1 visa system.

How to apply to this scheme

​Application process

Applications for this scheme are considered twice a year, and the application process has two stages:

(optional) Eligibility Enquiry Form: If you would like to enquire about a potential application, please submit a CV and an Eligibility Enquiry Form to the CRUK Office*. We will check that your proposal is within remit and advise you on whether the Fellowship scheme is appropriate for you. This information will also help us guide any conversation you might like to have about your application.

*Please complete and send us your form ideally at least 1 month and no later than 2 weeks before a submission deadline to help us best assist you.

1.         Outline applications:

    • Submit your outline application through our Flexi-Grant system
    • Your application will be reviewed by the Research Careers Committee
    • If successful, your application will be shortlisted and you will be invited to submit a full application. You have the option to defer your full submission by one round

2.         Full applications:

    • Submit your full application through our Flexi-Grant system. It must be approved by your Host Institution before the submission deadline
    • Your application will be reviewed by one of our Expert Review Panels (ERPs), who will provide comments on your application ahead of your interview
    • You will be interviewed by an ERP who will consider your application, your presentation at interview, and your responses to questions, before they make a recommendation to the Research Careers Committee
    • The Research Careers Committee will make a final decision on funding

Please note the Research Careers Committee has a restriction on the number of applications it can accept, and generally only considers two submissions to any scheme per applicant. If you are applying for a second time, you must contact us before starting a new application.


Outline application deadline

Committee Shortlisting

Full application deadline

Interview and Committee Review

4 October 2022 December 2022 21 February 2023 May 2023
23 March 2023 June 2023 14 September 2023 November 2023
5 October 2023 December 2023 TBC May 2024


Before you begin your application

Please refer to the following documents for the latest guidance.

You must read:

The Research Careers Committee will judge your application on:

  • Scientific quality and originality: your proposal must have a strong scientific rationale.
  • Cancer relevance: value of the proposed work in advancing the fundamental understanding of cancer or improving how cancer is diagnosed and/or treated.
  • Your track record and potential to produce outstanding results.
  • Suitability and strength of your research environment and collaborators: access to resources and facilities required for the fulfillment of the Career Development Fellowship.

The Committee will also consider how closely your research aligns with the priorities laid out in our Research Strategy, including earlier detection and harder-to-treat cancers (brain, lung, oesophageal and pancreatic cancers).

The 5 year rolling success rate (financial year 2017-2022) from application to funding for this scheme is 11%.

Applications are assessed by international, expert review panels and funding decisions are made by the Research Careers Committee.

Cancer Research UK contact details

Please contact the relevant Research Grants Manager if you have questions about your eligibility or require any assistance with your application or active award.

For London (except for QMUL and UCL), Oxford, Southampton, and The South of England

Dr Victoria Walker, Research Grants Manager:

For London (QMUL and UCL only), Manchester, The North of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland

Dr Catherine Cremona, Research Grants Manager:

For Cambridge, Birmingham, The Midlands, and Wales

Eve Riley, Research Grants Manager:

Please contact Dr Marjolein (Lein) Schaap, Research Programme Manager, if you would like to hear more about the support we offer e.g. CRUK Fellow meetings, activities and training, and to share any potential challenges you might face:

Please refer to the 'How to apply to this scheme tab' for further details and dates for the current funding round. 

More career development opportunities for researchers

Research Career Development

We offer a range of fellowships, bursaries and other support to help outstanding scientists and clinicians develop their independent research careers.

Dr Charlie Massie

Charlie explains how he demonstrated the skills and experience we expect of a Career Development Fellow. 

Success rates

The average success rate, from preliminary application to award, for fellowships and career support awards through our New Investigator Committee is 8%.

Research events

Our Strategy and Research Funding teams attend and exhibit at conferences, meetings and workshops throughout the year.