NCRI plays a pivotal role in fostering collaboration across cancer research in the UK – providing a forum to share information, expertise and ideas to ensure we are tackling important research questions effectively and efficiently and that, ultimately, progress against cancer is being made faster. But what about international collaboration? Here, Dr Kieran Breen, our Head of Programmes and Evaluation tells us about one of the ways NCRI helps to extend this forum internationally – to help us gain a global view on research spending trends.
Here in the UK, NCRI collects information annually on the research funded by our 21 cancer research funding Partners. This is held in our cancer research database (CaRD) which is a unique resource that we use to analyse research spending trends – highlighting areas of relative research strength as well as areas which may require more investment. This helps the NCRI identify areas that may benefit from collaborative working.
This information is available to all Partners as well as to external researchers upon request. We also make top-level findings publicly available on our website.
The International Cancer Research Partnership
NCRI is the UK member of the International Cancer Research Partnership (ICRP) – an alliance of cancer research funding organisations from the USA, Canada, Australia, France, Japan, the Netherlands and UK) working together to improve access to information about cancer research internationally. And it is through this partnership that the NCRI are able to connect the data from our Partners in the UK with international funding data, helping to build a picture of global research spending trends.
Connecting the data
Every year, NCRI submits details of the research funded by our Partners to ICRP and this is uploaded into the combined database. This combined database contains information on over 60,000 research grants, totalling over $15bn – representing a large portion of the cancer research performed in North America, Europe, Japan and Australia and this represents a significant proportion of worldwide cancer research funding outside the industrial sector.
Getting a global view on research spending trends
ICRP analyses the cancer research funding and publishes periodic reports on a variety of topics; from detailed analysis enabling comparison of research spending patterns between the UK and other countries, to more specific reports that examine trends in research investment.
ICRP members also have access to the detailed data and can use this to assess changes in funding patterns over time as well as comparing funding priorities internationally. For instance, we recently analysed the ICRP database to look at the nature and volume of childhood cancer research funded by NCRI Partners in the UK compared with other countries. This was in response to a request by the UK children’s cancer community to benchmark UK activity against work elsewhere.
ICRP also make their database available to the public, so researchers, funders and others can see what is going on internationally.