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A team co-led by IRB Barcelona receives $25 million from Cancer Grand Challenges

A world-class team of researchers, co-led by Dr Nuria Lopez-Bigas at IRB Barcelona, based in the Barcelona Science Park, has been selected to receive a $25m Cancer Grand Challenges award to investigate the very early stages of cancer development. The Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC) has joined this global funding platform -co-founded by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and the US National Cancer Institute (NCI)- through a contribution of 2.5 million euros to boost this innovative study, which seeks to investigate the early stages of cancer development.

Cancer Grand Challenges Prominent team, co-led by Dr López-Vigas, Dr Allan Balmain (University of California, San Francisco) and Dr Paul Brennan (International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC-WHO), will be working to answer questions about the very early stages of tumour development, and will build on recent findings that suggest cells can remain seemingly ‘normal’ despite carrying cancer-causing mutations in their DNA. With this information, the researchers will build a ‘roadmap’ of early cancer development in the hope of finding new, informed ways to stop cancer before it starts. The Prominent team unites advocates and scientists with expertise in epidemiology, genetics, imaging, and other fields, in five institutions across Spain, France and the US.

What keeps healthy cells healthy, and what triggers a cell to become cancerous? “It’s been exciting to think about how we’re going to bring our complementary expertise together to tackle this big question. With Cancer Grand Challenges, we’ve had the opportunity to build a great team. “I’m excited about getting to work together on this”, says co-team leader Dr Lopez-Bigas, ICREA researcher and head of the Biomedical Genomics Lab at IRB Barcelona.

Co-founded in 2020 by Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute -two of the largest funders of cancer research in the world- Cancer Grand Challenges is a global funding initiative that supports a global community of diverse, world-class research teams to come together, think differently and take on some of cancer’s toughest challenges. With awards of up to $25M, Cancer Grand Challenges teams are empowered to rise above the traditional boundaries of geography and discipline to make the progress against cancer we urgently need.

“Cancer is a global issue that needs to be met with global collaboration. This investment in team science encourages diverse thinking to approach problems that have long hindered research progress,” says Dr David Scott, Director of Cancer Grand Challenges, Cancer Research UK. “Cancer Grand Challenges provides the multidisciplinary teams the time, space and funding to foster innovation and a transformative approach. Prominent is one of four newly funded teams joining a scientific community addressing unmet clinical needs across cancer research.”

» For further information: IRB Barcelona website [+]