Cancer Research Wales was originally formed in 1966, under the name South Wales Cancer Research Charity, based in Velindre Cancer Centre. The charity changed its name to Cancer Research Wales in 1990 and saw rapid expansion in the growth of the charity and the number of research grants it awarded around Wales. To date, Cancer Research Wales has funded over 100 PhD studentships in Wales, giving many the opportunity of a career in science and facilitating the upskilling of many health professionals such as medical physicists and clinical oncologists.

In 2001, Cancer Research Wales opened its state-of-the-art laboratories at Velindre Cancer Centre to allow clinicians and scientists to work together more closely. In the last 10 years alone Cancer Research Wales has pledged over £15M for new research in areas across Wales.


Cancer Research Wales has four main aims, which are to:

  • Improve patient outcomes through discovery and delivery of innovative treatments and strategies
  • Eliminate inequalities of cancer incidence and mortality
  • Increase the proportion of cancers diagnosed at an early stage
  • Build clinical research capacity and help embed research into the heart of the NHS in Wales


Cancer Research Wales’ strategy focuses on three main areas of research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment. They recognise survivorship and palliative care research are also very important, and often underfunded parts of the patient pathway, however they have decided not to focus on these areas, as not to spread themselves too thinly. This will enable the charity to play to its strengths and have greater impact in the areas of prevention, early diagnosis and treatment, where they have a proven track record.

Research areas


Cancer Research Wales seek to support research initiatives that better understand the causes of cancer at a molecular basis, through to population level, with the aim to develop key interventions and methods that will help prevent cancer where possible.

Early Diagnosis

Late diagnosis of cancer is thought to be a major contributor to the overall poor survival rates seen in Wales. In an effort to improve cancer outcomes, Cancer Research Wales is committed to the funding of high-quality population and laboratory-based research that will improve the early diagnosis of cancer.

Better Treatments

Basic and Translational Research

Basic and translational cancer research is the very foundation on which all previous and future improvements in cancer treatment are based. Cancer Research Wales remains committed to the funding of high-quality research that will further their understanding of the genetic and molecular basis of cancer development and progression.

Drug Discovery and Development

Wales has benefited strategically from government funded state of the art computer aided drug design platforms. These have already proved successful with new anti-cancer agents recently developed.  Cancer Research Wales will continue to fund research in this area, and the development of novel high-throughput drug screens that serve to accelerate the drug discovery process.

Radiotherapy Research and Medical Imaging

Cancer Research Wales has a proud history of supporting radiotherapy research across Wales. As radiotherapy research continues to advance in both scope and complexity, Cancer Research Wales will continue to build on its previous achievements, by funding innovative radiotherapy related research and associated imaging modalities, such as PET and Radiomics.

Cancer Immunology

Cancer Research Wales provides opportunities for basic, translational, and systems-based research in cancer immunology that will help gain a better understanding of the dynamic relationship that exists between the immune system and cancer.

Studies that seek to identify the unknown factors that influence the treatment response of immunotherapy and contribute to the generalised immunosuppressive phenotype observed in advanced cancers, as well as tumour types considered to have low intrinsic ‘immunogenic’ potential will be important.

Supporting Clinical Research

Where the resources and capacity allow, Cancer Research Wales will look to support all aspects of clinical research for well-defined studies. This includes, but are not limited to, clinical research fellowships, trial and data managers, research nurses, and interventional studies.