Cancer Foundation Finland awards more than 7 million euros in grants for Finnish cancer research

This year, the Cancer Foundation’s total grants for cancer research reached a record of 7.35 million euros. A major grant was awarded for a project developing precision immune therapies for blood cancers. The Cancer Foundation also awarded several major three-year research grants for research into various cancer diseases and fundamental cancer research.

The Cancer Foundation received 231 grant applications by the call deadline of 24 August 2022. There were 162 applications for research grants, including 11 applications for major grants. Of all applications, 44 per cent concerned clinical cancer research, that is, research that involves cancer patients. The number of applications, especially the number of applications for dissertation grants, returned to pre-Covid levels.

The annual donations the Cancer Foundation receives provide a wide range of support for research projects on cancer. In 2022, the most funding was again allocated to research that does not focus on any particular type of cancer, about one-third of the total funding granted. Research focusing on prostate, breast, colorectal or ovarian cancer also received a considerable amount of funding.

A three-year major grant of 450,000 euros was awarded to Professor Satu Mustjoki (University of Helsinki) for a research project titled “Towards optimised immunotherapies in blood cancers”. The project aims to discover new precision immune therapies for blood cancers that carry a poor prognosis. Such leukaemias cannot be treated even with novel immunotherapies, since they are capable of evading the body’s defences. Mustjoki’s research team and collaborators aim to explore the mechanisms by which blood cells that have become malignant evade the immune response and develop resistance to treatment. The researchers will also seek new medicinal combinations that, when coupled with immunotherapy, have the ability to eliminate cancer cells. The aim is to increase molecular-level understanding of cancer immunology and to develop precision immune therapies for blood cancers.

Grants to other significant research projects:

Professor of Computational Biomedicine Merja Heinäniemi (University of Eastern Finland): three-year research grant of 300,000 euros for the research project “Targeting metabolic and signalling co-dependencies in drug-resistant leukaemic cell states”.

Professor, Head Physician Olli Carpen (University of Helsinki): three-year research grant of 300,000 euros for the research project “Identifying critical outcome-regulating elements in ovarian cancer by tissue image analysis combined with spatial transcriptomics”.

Professor Peeter Karihtala (HUS): research grant of 60,000 euros for the research project “Physical exercise during neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer as a means to increase pathological complete response rates: the randomised Neo-ACT trial”.

More multi-annual research grants than before

As in many previous years, this year’s applications show three significant trends that are still on the rise: immunotherapy, i.e. treatments that activate the body’s own defences, personalised targeting of cancer treatment by means of modern diagnostics, and the use of artificial intelligence, especially to support more accurate cancer classification.

  • The results of all these lines of research are rapidly being translated into clinical practice and will benefit those affected by cancer already in the near future, says Jarmo Wahlfors, Research Director at Cancer Foundation Finland. He is also pleased to note the record sum of grants awarded, which meant that the Cancer Foundation was able to award more multi-year research grants than before.
  • Long-term funding reduces the workload associated with securing funding for the research so that researchers can focus on their research projects. Writing grant applications is not the way to beat cancer – research is, says Wahlfors.

Autumn grants awarded to 93 researchers or research teams

In 2022, Cancer Foundation Finland has supported cancer research with grants totalling 7.35 million euros.

Research and dissertation grants were awarded to 93 researchers or research teams to the tune of 7,350,000 euros.

The Cancer Society of Finland consists of 12 regional cancer societies and six national patient organisations. The CSF maintains the Finnish Cancer Registry. Cancer Foundation Finland is a charitable organisation and the main private funder of cancer research in the country.