Radiation oncology and biology

While the MRC already supports some research in this area, we wish to encourage a wider range of applications relevant to medical research. Research proposals may cover the spectrum of research from studies that explore important cellular and molecular mechanisms, through to more translational medical research that would underpin the development of new health interventions.

The MRC would particularly welcome applications on the following topics:

  • Improving the therapeutic effects of radiation in the treatment of cancer, including but not limited to combining radiation with drugs and biological agents, interactions with the tumour microenvironment, scheduling, and biomarkers of response.
  • Studies of approaches to improve long term health and minimise morbidity after radiation exposure, including radiotherapy treatment.
  • Understanding the fundamental processes associated with radiation injury from initial damage to pathogenesis, at the molecular, cellular, tissue and organ levels.
  • Research into the pathways involved in radiation carcinogenesis including, but not limited to, DNA damage signalling and repair, individual susceptibility and gene-environment interactions.
  • Development of novel biological approaches from radioprotection to treatment of radiation toxicity.


MRC highlight notices are published to alert researchers to areas of biomedical science that are currently a high priority for the MRC.  Applications can be made through any of MRC’s grant funding schemes.

Applications should be submitted to the appropriate research board, based on scientific area. Most applications relevant to this highlight notice are considered by the MRC’s Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board, reflecting its responsibilities in managing the MRC’s cancer portfolio.

Translational proposals can also be considered through the MRC’s Biomedical Catalyst: Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS).

In addition to the general criteria for assessment, applicants should take account of the following factors:

  • Applications must show relevance to human health
  • Hypothesis-driven research proposals, aimed at achieving specific endpoints, are more likely to be successful.
  • Any multi-disciplinary applications will generally be expected to contain substantive collaboration between different areas of expertise
  • Applications involving an industrial partner should be developed through our MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement.
  • The MRC recognises the importance of collaborating with leading groups internationally, and would particularly like to encourage applications of this type.

Application process

Applications are considered in competition with other applications received, but the Board/Panel will take into account the need for enhanced investment in this area.

Applications should be submitted to the relevant research board or panel in accordance with our standard deadlines. Applications that extend beyond a core health focus can be funded in partnership with BBSRC and EPSRC.

Cross-Council applications will be assigned a lead Council, which will draw on expertise from across Councils to take a single funding decision.

Contact and guidance

Applicants who are thinking of submitting a proposal under this highlight are advised to contact:

Dr Mariana Delfino-Machin:

If you have any technical queries concerning your Je-S application form, please contact the Je-S helpdesk.