Our PhD studentships are for established researchers in the UK and Ireland who have a strong track record in their field, and have previous experience in supervising PhD students. 

We can only accept applications from the proposed supervisor. Students who are interested in becoming a Breast Cancer Now PhD student should contact the supervisors directly.

Application dates

Opens Friday 29 March
Closes Friday 21 June
Award date December 2019

Read our PhD grant guidelines (PDF).

The scope of the scheme

Our PhD grants are available to researchers working in an institution in the UK or Ireland. Co-Applicants may be based elsewhere, but the PhD studentship and its Principal Investigator must be based at an institution in the UK or Ireland in order to be eligible for funding. 

PhD funds can now be requested for 3 or 4 year studentships. However, the overall cost of a PhD studentship should not exceed £35,000 per annum, including London weighting and conference costs (i.e. you cannot request a fourth year of funds for a 3 year PhD). In the event that costs may exceed this in a specific year, please contact us.

If you have any queries regarding the above, please email grants_admin@breastcancernow.org or call 020 7749 4121.

Collaborative applications from within UK and Ireland are welcome, although the grant (and associated funding arrangements) will be with the lead applicant's institution. Named academic Collaborators are permitted from outside the UK or Ireland. PhD studentships are available to established researchers who have a strong track record in their field.  

PhD grant awards are for three years and can cover student stipend, student fees, and college fees (where applicable), research expenses and essential equipment. Applications should be made by the Principal Investigator whose position and salary will be guaranteed by the host institution.

PhD studentships are designed to capture new and highly qualified science graduates into a career of breast cancer research. The Grants Committee will assess applications based on: 

  • The research plan
  • Clear relevance to breast cancer research
  • The perceived outcomes that will lead to a significant advance in understanding of breast cancer
  • The quality of the environment in which the award is to be held
  • The support provided by the supervisor and the host institution to help develop the student's career in research  

It is the expectation that the awards will enrich scientific understanding and expertise in breast cancer research. Applicants should have conducted independent research in the field of breast cancer or be an experienced researcher in a related field, and wish to build on their history and reputation in the breast cancer area, deepening their knowledge and experience.  

What areas of research will Breast Cancer Now support?

We are interested in funding research that supports improvements in the prevention, detection and treatment of all forms of breast cancer, and welcome applications from all disciplines.

Applications should be made using our online Grant Tracker system. You must complete all sections of the application form (notes below) and yourself, any Co-Applicants, the Head of Department and the University/Institution Research Grants office (or finance office if not applicable) must complete the declarations online in order to submit your application. Co-Applicants must confirm their involvement and provide a full CV online. Each Collaborator must confirm their involvement in the project online and provide a letter detailing their role in the project. 

If you have any queries about filling in this application form, please contact the Research Funding Team at grants_admin@breastcancernow.org or phone 0207 749 4121.

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The funding available

PhD grants are available up to the value of £105,000 for a three year PhD or £140,000 for a four year PhD – costs requested must not exceed this cap and will include the £1,900 for conference costs.

Please note the following:

  • The applicant and PhD studentship must be based within the UK or Ireland in a recognised academic institution
  • Lead Applicants must be a permanent salaried member of staff at a recognised academic institution
  • However, Lead Applicants with a fixed-term position may apply as long as the grant falls fully within the period covered by their tenure
  • Applicants should have a strong academic track record in the field of breast cancer
  • Principal Investigators may not apply for more than one grant as lead PI but may apply as a Co-Applicant or Collaborator on more than one application

The following are not eligible and will not be accepted:

  • Applications for clinical PhD’s
  • Applications for part-time studentships
  • We will not accept applications from the potential students themselves
  • Research into conditions other than breast cancer. We will accept applications for Co-morbidity projects
  • Applications for equipment only. We will accept requests for equipment as part of a larger grant, but you must include a clear justification for the equipment in your research proposal
  • An application from a commercial entity
  • Applications for PhD grants which request funding for consumables or running costs only
  • Applications from an individual who is NOT employed by an eligible institution i.e. a university or research institute
  • Applications for methods or service development

If you are unsure about the eligibility and remit of your PhD studentship, you must contact the Research Grants Team email grants_admin@breastcancernow.org before you submit your application. Once the deadline has passed there will be no opportunity to debate individual circumstances and applications not meeting the requirements will be rejected without peer review.

We accept applications for research costs associated with NHS studies. Breast Cancer Now is a non-commercial partner of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) which means the studies we fund may be eligible to access NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) support. 

In partnership with your local R&D office, we encourage you to involve your local CRN team in discussions as early as possible when planning your study to fully benefit from the support the NIHR CRN offers as outlined in their Study Support Service. To find out more about how you can apply for this additional support to help deliver your study, please visit the Study Support Service website.

If your study involves NHS sites in England, you will need to apply for Health Research Authority Approval. For guidance on submitting an application, please visit the Health Research Authority website.

The NIHR also provides the support and facilities the NHS needs for first-class research by funding a range of infrastructure facilities.

Breast Cancer Now will only fund costs which fall under the heading of ‘research costs’. The research award does not include NHS support and/or treatment costs, although our review committee will take NHS support and treatment costs into account when considering the value for money of the research.

We will not fund NHS ‘support costs’. These are the additional patient care costs associated with the research, which would end once the research and development activity in question has stopped, even if the patient care service involved continues to be provided. These might cover items such as extra patient tests, extra in-patient days and extra nursing attention. Researchers should contact their local NHS research and development department initially. If they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS research and development department, contact the local Comprehensive Local Research Network (CLRN) Senior Manager.

We will not fund NHS ‘treatment costs’. These are the patient care costs that would continue to be incurred if the patient care service in question continued to be provided after the research and development activity has stopped. In determining NHS treatment costs the applicant must assume that the patient care service being assessed will continue even though there may be no plans for it to do so. Where patient care is being provided, which differs from the normal, standard treatment for that condition (either an experimental treatment or a service in a different location from where it would normally be given), the difference between the total treatment costs and the costs of the ‘usual standard care’ (if any) constitutes excess treatment cost/saving, but is nonetheless part of the treatment cost, not an NHS support or research cost. These costs should be determined in conjunction with your NHS trust partner(s) and their commissioners.

If applying for NHS support costs or treatment costs, applicants should complete a SoECAT form, which is available to download from the NIHR’s website.

Once this form is complete, please convert the completed template to a PDF and upload it to the Cost section of your application form using the ‘Please upload SoECAT form’ function available. Please detail the file’s description as ‘NHS support and treatment costs’. 

A ‘Letter of Support’ must also be included with the application from the lead NHS provider acknowledging the amount requested and confirming that these are the likely costs. Please upload the letter of support using the ‘NHS Letter of support function’

For further information, you should refer to the Department of Health guidelines for attributing the costs of health and social care research (AcoRD) when completing the cost section of your application form. AcoRD is a mechanism for the Department of Health to meet some of the costs of charity-funded research in the NHS, for charities that are members of Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). Please ensure your application is correctly costed and takes these costs into account. If you are unsure about how to cost your application so that it adheres to the AcoRD guidelines, you should contact the NIHR CRN Study Support Service.

We use a preliminary screening step in our review process. The Grants Committee members carries out an initial review of all the applications and identifies those they think will not be competitive.

These applications will not be sent out for external peer review and will not be considered for funding. If we are not going to take your application any further, we will let you know within 12 weeks of the application deadline, and we will send you feedback from the Grants Committee.

Please visit our research projects section for recent projects awarded.

View research grants success rates (PDF).

A list of our Grants committee members.

If you are unsure about the eligibility and remit of your project, please contact the Research Funding team before you submit your application.  Once the deadline has passed there will be no opportunity to consider individual circumstances and applications not meeting the requirements will be rejected without peer review. We can be contacted by email at grants_admin@breastcancernow.org or by phone on 020 7749 4121.

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