Human cell-based carcinogenity assays

This call is closed


We are seeking research proposals to develop novel human cell-based systems that could provide mechanistic information to help support a weight of evidence, mode of action based evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of chemicals. New models should:

  • Incorporate current knowledge of the molecular mechanisms underlying human cell transformation/carcinogenesis
  • Provide information on alterations in key processes involved in carcinogenesis to inform evaluation of mechanism/mode of action, or effects on pathways involved in carcinogenicity
  • Include objective measures of adverse effect
  • Have the potential to support a reduction in animal use for carcinogenicity assessment

Consideration should also be given to how such a model could be used in a risk assessment (rather than hazard identification) context.

Who can apply? | How to apply | Assessment procedure | Assessment panel | Resources and awards

 Who can apply?

Establishment eligibility

Individual eligibility

Any UK research establishment including:

  • Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
  • Independent Research Organisations (IROs)
  • Research Council (RC) Institutes
  • Hospital/NHS Trusts
  • Charity Laboratories
  • Industry

Applicants should be UK-based researchers who can demonstrate that they:

  • Will direct the proposed research
  • Will be actively engaged in accomplishing the project’s aims
  • Hold a graduate degree – the minimum formal qualification required. However, it would normally be expected that an applicant has been awarded a PhD. Applications involving less experienced researchers should be made in collaboration with a more senior colleague.

Overseas researchers

Overseas researchers cannot be principal applicants but can be included as collaborators. Overseas co-applicant status can be obtained in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the NC3Rs; approval should be sought before applying.


The NC3Rs does not allow resubmission of previously unsuccessful proposals, unless explicitly invited by the Panel. Proposals previously declined by the NC3Rs will not be considered by another Research Council or funder within 12 months (from the date of submission to the original Research Council) unless substantially revised. More information can be found in the NC3Rs Applicant and Grant Holder Handbook.

Please note: The same or similar application cannot be considered by any other Research Council, the Health Departments or any other research funder at the same time.

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How to apply

This call is now closed. For information on future Strategic Award calls please sign up to the NC3Rs Newsletter for updates.

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Assessment procedure

Applications are evaluated by international peer reviewers and assessed by the NC3Rs Strategic Award Panel.

The following criteria will be taken into consideration when making funding decisions:

  • Relevance to the strategic call
  • Potential impact on the 3Rs
  • Quality of the science
  • Current or future importance of the techniques to medical, biological or veterinary research
  • Strategy for promoting the proposed research to the scientific community
  • Expertise and track record of the team
  • Relevance to the NC3Rs strategy
  • Value for money

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Assessment panel

The following panel considered applications submitted to this competition. 

Member Name  Institution

Professor Ian Kimber (Chair)      

University of Manchester

Dr Jim Harvey   


Dr Marilyn Aardema   

Self-employed consultant

Dr Michael Routledge  

 University of Leeds

Dr Rafaella Corvi    

European Commission

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Resources and awards

Two awards were made in November 2011

Professor Robert Newbold
(Brunel University)

Development of human epithelial cell transformation models for carcinogen screening, employing defined phenotypic endpoints mechanistically representative of rate-limiting events in human carcinogenesis

Professor Gareth Jenkins
(Swansea University)

Developing an integrated 'in vitro carcinogenicity predictive tool' utilising in vitro cell signalling and cell behaviour assessment coupled with in vitro genotoxicity data

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