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Our research panel & review process

Whether you’re applying for an undergraduate student bursary or looking for postgraduate funding, take a look at our research panel, the review process and how successful applications are decided.

Our Research Advisory Panel

Excellent research governance is a vital part of Big C’s decision making. The role of our independent Research Advisory Panel (RAP) is to provide expert independent advice on research grant applications submitted to Big C so that Trustees are well informed in their decision making. All of our RAP members and external peer reviewers are asked to declare any conflicts of interest and adhere to the Panel’s Terms of Reference and Code of Conduct for Advisory Panels. Following peer review, the RAP will discuss and rank the applications for funding for consideration by our Grants Committee and final approval comes from our Board of Trustees. 

Our panel

A close up of medical equipment.

Dr Leo Alexandre

Consultant Clinical Associate Professor in Translational Medicine (Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia) and Honorary Gastroenterology Consultant (Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)

Close up of Big C's Chair of Trustees, Dylan Edwards

Professor Dylan Edwards

Retired Executive Dean,
Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Chair of Cancer Studies,

Professor Fairweather

Professor Sue Fairweather-Tait

Norwich Medical School,
UEA and Research Group Member,
Musculoskeletal Medicine

Ian Johnson

Dr Ian Johnson

(Panel Chair)

Emeritus Fellow,
Quadram Institute Biosciences

Professor Lee Smith

Professor Lee Smith

Professor of Public Health, Anglia Ruskin University

Dr Ralf Zwacka

Dr Ralf Zwacka

Reader, School of Biological Sciences,
University of Essex

Peer review process

Applications will be subject to an initial desktop review in order to establish that application criteria have been met and will then be submitted for peer review by up to three or more experts in the relevant field. Applicants are asked to suggest three independent reviewers to review their application and may also exclude up to three reviewers from this process. Big C reserves the right to forward applications to the charity’s own external reviewers for review.

Peer review assessment criteria

Peer reviewers will use a standard form to assess each application and will score against the following criteria:

Overall rating


Scientific quality

Track record of principal applicant

Peer reviewers will also be asked to consider whether:

Big C is the most appropriate funding body

The duration of support and salaries/expenses are appropriate

The study has the appropriate statistical support

In relation to the application they have any conflicts of interest

The standard peer review form (which can be found as an appendix to the Research Funding Conditions) includes a section in which the peer reviewers are asked to give an assessment, suitable for anonymous transmission to the applicants as feedback. This section asks peer reviewers to give their opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of:

  • The importance of the research topic
  • Its originality
  • The scientific quality (including the clarity of the research objectives, the suitability of the methods chosen and whether the planned experiments are likely to yield decisive results)
  • The track record of the principal applicant in this area of cancer research

All applicants will be provided with feedback on their application however Big C will not enter into further communication (by telephone or email) or correspondence regarding the decisions of the Board.

“If science is what you are passionate about or what you love to do, then you should do it. Don’t let yourself, or anyone else, hold you back from it.”

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Research partnerships

Being based on the Norwich Research Park means we are ideally located to work alongside the research institutes that we fund, which currently include the Quadram Institute, UEA, and NNUH.

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Research investment strategy

Download our Research Investment Strategy to read more about Big C’s vision and governance framework for the charity’s investment in scientific research.

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Apply for funding

Do you have a cancer research project you believe we would be interested in funding? Perhaps we’ve funded the first stage of your research and you’d like us to consider the next stage? Take a look at what support we may be able to offer…

Research case studies

Rana’s Undergraduate Tumour Growth Research

My name is Rana Haidari, and I am going into my 3rd year studying Biomedicine at the University of East Anglia.

Read more

Katharine’s Undergraduate Research – Endothelial Cells

Hi I’m Katharine, I’m currently researching how the Endothelial Cells (EC) receptors, Neuropilin -1 (NRP1) and Neuropilin-2 NRP2 work together to regulate tumour growth.

Read more

International Women and Girls in Science Interview: Dee Hayward

To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science we spoke with Dee Hayward, a first-year PhD student whose studentship has been funded by Big C.

Read more

International Women and Girls in Science Interview: Nancy Teng

To celebrate International Women and Girls in Science Day, Big C spoke with Nancy Teng, a current PhD student at the Quadram Institute whose studentship has been funded by Big C.

Read more

Latest news

Big C Cancer Charity Chief Executive steps down

After nine years of dedicated service to Big C Cancer Charity, Chief Executive Dr Christopher Bushby will be stepping down, in September. Chris has made this difficult decision due to health reasons.

Read more

Ex-NCFC players return to the pitch for Charity Football Match in aid of Big C

Players including Grant Holt, Simeon Jackson, Cedric Anselin, Wes Hoolahan, Simon Lappin and Mike Milligan joined the squad on Saturday 18 May as the Big C XI took on Help Delete Cancer at Lowestoft Town FC.

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Get ready for an exciting summer full of fundraising events

This summer, Big C invites you to get together with your family and friends and take on one of our many fundraising events and help raise vital funds for those affected by cancer!

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100 Mile Easter Walk for Canaries Legend Grant Holt and Local Recruitment Agency ARC in Aid of Big C

Canaries legend Grant Holt has teamed up with local recruitment firm ARC to walk an incredible 100 miles in aid of Big C Cancer Charity, starting on Easter Monday.

Read more


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