NATIONAL CANCER RESEARCH NETWORKS AND NCRI CLINICAL STUDIES GROUPS
National Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
While the NCRN local cancer research networks only cover England, NCRN has robust partnerships and working relationships with Cancer Research Networks in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each Research Network receives funding to appoint research staff and to enable access to pharmacy, pathology, radiology and other areas of support, such as information systems and training, all of which are integral to high quality research.
If you are developing a proposal for a research study that will involve patients in the NHS, and your study is eligible for the UK Clinical Research Network Portfolio, you should approach NCRN during your planning for guidance on the practical aspects of delivering your study in the NHS environment.
There is a Best Practice Communication Guide on the NCRN website providing advice for communicating with the Cancer Research Networks. Although this document was developed for use by clinical trials units, the information within it and the accompanying documents are applicable to stand alone researchers.
In addition to contacting the NCRN Co-ordinating Centre, you may wish to contact the local Research Network Manager or Clinical Lead for Research, who may be able to provide you with specific advice about your study and accessing support from the Clinical Research Networks.
NCRI Clinical Studies Groups (CSGs)
The remit of the NCRI CSGs (UK-wide) includes overseeing existing studies in the NCRN portfolio, considering new research questions, developing proposals and securing funding from NCRI members and other sources as well as providing expert advice. Although not always required by funders, it is good practice to consult the relevant CSG during proposal development.
Of the 22 CSGs, the cross-cutting groups most relevant to this community are listed below. However, if your research is disease-specific (e.g. survivorship in breast cancer specifically), it will be worth also contacting the disease-specific CSG
There is no single process of how funders interact, or expect you to interact, with the CSGs.
• Some funders’ applications forms may simply ask whether or not your study has been presented to or discussed with a CSG
• Some funders may request or advise that studies submitted to them are first discussed with a CSG or one or more of its subgroups
• Some funders will send your abstract to a CSG themselves for comment in advance of their funding decision. This may be at the initial stage of the application process or in a later round only.
Funders look to CSGs to provide advice on whether a research proposal complements, overlaps or conflicts with current studies in the portfolio.
Please note that it is the source of a project’s funding, rather than its history of discussion within a CSG, that ultimately determines whether it is adopted onto the NCRN portfolio and eligible for the support that goes with it. However, as illustrated above, some funders may require the involvement of the CSGs for a funding application to be successful.