A crucial way in which NCRI advances the development of cancer research is by providing guidance on research proposals. Researchers apply to attend Proposal Guidance meetings where they are matched with relevant experts from the NCRI Networks who provide feedback on their research to improve the quality of the ideas before they are submitted for funding.
What is Proposal Guidance?
NCRI Proposal Guidance meetings offer investigators the opportunity to submit their cancer study proposals for review by a bespoke panel of experts and receive written feedback to assist them with the development of their study.
I found the NCRI proposals guidance meeting an extremely valuable experience. The expert panels offered feedback on every aspect of the proposal, and we have been able to update plans for PPI, pre-clinical work, trial stopping rules, and even the name of the trial. I will definitely apply to the panels for guidance on future proposals.
Supporting NCRI Partners in tackling racial disparities in prostate cancer
In 2021 NCRI Partner Prostate Cancer Research ran a grant call focused on combatting racial disparities in prostate cancer. To support Prostate Cancer Research and ensure they received the highest quality proposals, NCRI invited the applicants to attend a Proposal Guidance meeting.
Eight researchers presented their research ideas to expert panels formed based on the research idea and expertise required. Researchers were able to discuss their ideas and received detailed written feedback on how to improve their application.
As we launched this call to encourage more researchers into a field that has not seen much activity compared to the level of need in recent years. We really valued that our applicants had the opportunity to discuss and receive feedback on their submissions before they were peer-reviewed and assessed by our patient panels. Several researchers had made refinements to their proposals following the meetings.
Gathering evidence to compare the benefits of proton beam therapy
NCRI’s CTRad drives and leads the strategic direction of proton beam therapy research in the UK. The proton beam therapy clinical trials strategy group works in collaboration with the two NHS proton beam therapy centres and NHS England to ensure that funded proton beam therapy studies are successfully delivered and supported by the radiotherapy community to generate the evidence base to inform future clinical practice across the UK and internationally.
APPROACH -Analysis of Proton vs Photon Radiotherapy in Oligodendroglioma & Assessment of Cognitive Health
The APPROACH trial will compare proton beam therapy with photon radiotherapy to see if it reduces long-term side effects for good prognosis glioma patients. The trial has received £1.5m funding from the NIHR EME programme. The support provided in developing this and other proton beam therapy trials by NCRI’s CTRad was instrumental in the success of the funding application.
The discussions with the CTRad members, which included representatives from the two proton beam therapy centres and patient representatives, were invaluable in optimising the trial design. CTRad offered a confidential and impartial space for experts to speak freely, providing advice and feedback, which enabled us to improve the proposal.
PARABLE -Proton beAm theRApy in patients with Breast cancer: evaluating early and Late-Effects
The PARABLE trial will compare proton beam therapy with photon radiotherapy to see if it reduces the risk of short term side effects and long-term heart problems later in life for patients with breast cancer. NCRI’s CTRad has supported the trial throughout its development, providing invaluable feedback.
CTRad has been instrumental to the success of this study. It provided focused workshops that brought the community together and facilitated development of the study design.