1. Overview
2. Apply
3. Eligibility
4. FAQs


We are Breast Cancer Now, the UK’s leading breast cancer charity. We believe research is what will ultimately give women with breast cancer more time to live. Our vision: If we all act now, by 2050, everyone diagnosed with breast cancer will live and live well.

To get ahead of this complex disease, we need to change how we work. The big discoveries and the blockbuster drugs aren’t how we’ll move forward. It will be the incremental discoveries applied in different ways that will lead to truly targeted treatments. It will involve the academic research sector, pharmaceutical industry and charities like Breast Cancer Now working together.

To drive this, we have established a funding initiative called the Breast Cancer Now Catalyst Programme. This initiative will bring together Europe’s leading breast cancer researchers and the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies to pool resources and stop women dying from breast cancer by 2050.

Pfizer logoThe first partnership we’ve made is with Pfizer. Together we will provide exciting opportunities for breast cancer researchers across Europe. 

As well as providing substantial funding for research grants, Pfizer is providing access to a number of its licensed and investigational drugs that may be useful for treating breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Now will use its peer review process to decide which research projects will be supported and will have access to Pfizer’s drugs. Pfizer will not be involved in making the decisions about which projects are funded. 


The request for proposals

We are looking for innovative proposals from researchers who are interested in using the following drugs from Pfizer – Crizotinib, Palbociclib and Talazoparib. We are particularly interested in funding clinical research but would welcome preclinical research proposals, using the drugs alone or in combination with other agents.

The scope of the scheme

We are interested in funding single clinical research projects or more substantial research programmes that address problems in breast cancer and involve the use of drugs available from Pfizer.

This could include:​

  • Early phase clinical studies (Phase I/II)
  • Clinical studies of the drugs in combination with other drugs (including those from other companies) or other treatment modalities.

We will also consider preclinical research proposals including:

  • Pre-clinical research investigating the mechanisms of action of the drugs
  • Pre-clinical research that could lead to repurposing existing drugs, including new indications for already licensed drugs
  • Research to develop and test biomarkers or diagnostics to be used with the drugs.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. Breast Cancer Now would be interested to hear of any proposals that make use of Pfizer’s drugs, so please contact the office if you would like to discuss your ideas.

Please note that the following areas of research will not be covered by this scheme:

  • Phase III registration studies
  • Research that is not primarily directed at investigations using one of the Pfizer drugs
  • Proposals solely based on health economics

The Catalyst Grants cannot be used to support research leading directly to (i) regulatory approval of a new indication for a drug, or (ii) any significant change in the drug’s current labelling, or (iii) a change in the advertising for the drug.

The funding available

The nature and scope of the proposed research will vary from application to application, therefore we expect that the size and duration of each awarded grant will also vary.

However, grants should fit one of these broad categories:

  • ​Grants of up to £400,000 in total. These are likely to address a single research question and may be based at one or multiple sites in the UK or Europe.
  • Large grants of up to £1.5 million in total for studies of exceptional potential. These will likely involve teams across more than one site, including teams in institutions outside Europe. They may address a range of questions around a common theme, or undertake research using several of the Pfizer drugs, or multi-centre phase II clinical studies.

Larger amounts will be considered with appropriate justification, particularly where substantial sample collection and/or biomarker investigation is included.

Please note these grants will not be renewable once they have ended.

Apply now


  • All investigators should be based in an academic institution, such as a university, hospital or research institute, located within Europe. Please note that this funding scheme is not intended for industry partners and is for academic researchers only.
  • All applications must undertake research using at least one of the following Pfizer drugs – Crizotinib, Palbociclib and Talazoparib, either by itself or in combination with other agents.
  • In studies that involve teams working at more than one site, one of the investigators must be selected as the Principal Investigator (PI). The PI’s host institution should be the coordinating site for all the financial, regulatory and reporting responsibilities for the grant.
  • This funding scheme will support Principal Investigators based in an eligible institution within Europe. However, international collaborators are welcome.
  • The leaders of each team involved should be employed by an eligible academic institution. This should be a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract, salaried by the host institution.
  • Institutions may be involved in multiple applications, including being the lead site on more than one application. However, each application should be scientifically distinct. Please note that an individual may be the PI on only one application, but may act as a co-investigator on multiple applications.
  • Catalyst Programme funding may not be used to cover the same work as that of another current or pending grant.

Next steps

The round will open on 2 November 2020. Further information is available in the Frequently Asked Questions for this scheme or from the Breast Cancer Now Research Funding team by emailing catalyst@breastcancernow.org.

Full proposals will be sent to experts in the relevant research area for their comments, before being assessed for funding by the Grants Committee. The Grants Committee will include patient advocates, and the criteria for a successful application will include the likely patient benefit of the research.

The research grants

The research funding will be awarded as a grant from Breast Cancer Now. They will be subject to Breast Cancer Now’s standard Grant Conditions and a small number of additional conditions specific to this scheme. All our Terms and Conditions and research policies can be found here.

Providing the drugs

Pfizer will provide the drugs needed for the funded research project only after (i) the grant has been confirmed by Breast Cancer Now; and (ii) conclusion of a separate Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA) (if drugs are to be provided for pre-clinical research only) or Investigator-Initiated Research Agreement (IIR) (if drugs are to be provided for clinical research). The MTA or IIR will be agreed directly between Pfizer and the PI’s host institution. Breast Cancer Now will not be involved in the negotiation of such agreements.

List of Pfizer drugs

  • Crizotinib
  • Palbociclib
  • Talazoparib

Publication and publicity

Both Breast Cancer Now and Pfizer support the freedom of researchers to publish the results from research funded by this programme, even if those results are not favourable to Pfizer. However, researchers will be required to give Pfizer an opportunity to review any proposed publications (including abstracts and posters) before they are submitted in accordance with the procedure shown in the (as applicable) MTA or IIR. This will be solely to identify any results or inventions from the research which could be protected, and to prevent the release of information confidential to Pfizer.

Intellectual property

The treatment of the intellectual property associated with the Pfizer drugs and arising from the research funded under the Catalyst Programme will be governed by the terms of the (as applicable) MTA or IIR as agreed between the applicant and Pfizer, not by Breast Cancer Now’s grant conditions.


Opening of the grant funding round and applications welcomed

2 November 2020

Deadline for full applications through Breast Cancer Now’s online grant application system

5 February 2021

Grants Committee meeting

June 2021

Announcement of funding decisions

July 2021



This FAQ will be updated throughout the process and will cover the following additional information:

  • Whether we pay the full economic costs of the grant
  • More details on IP, if necessary
  • More details on publications, if necessary
  • The involvement of Pfizer
  • Assessment criteria.

Read the full FAQs


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