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How we fund research


Ovarian Cancer Action was founded in 2005 to help transform the prospects for women by advancing ovarian cancer research in the UK. 

To date, we’ve funded over £12 million in medical research. Every penny we invest is spent according to a long-term research strategy, developed in close collaboration with experts in the field and guided by women affected by ovarian cancer. This – alongside regular reviews of all our ongoing projects - ensures that the funds generously raised and donated by our supporters go towards talented scientists whose research will improve women’s lives. 

Learn more about our current approach to research and the people who ensure every generation of research we fund is high quality and will help make ovarian cancer survivable. 

Our Guiding Research Principles

Our research strategy will be underpinned by five key research principles:

  • High-quality research – We will only fund the highest quality research that has undergone rigorous peer review.
  • Patient centred – All patients will be at the heart of all our research through strong and diverse patient involvement and clear patient impact.
  • Partnerships – We will work in collaboration with partners who can increase and accelerate the impact of our research.
  • Acceleration – We will challenge and accelerate the pace of the impact of our research to transform survival for patients today and tomorrow.
  • Innovation – We will be agile with our research investment to achieve maximum innovation and impact.

Choosing the research we fund

We bring together scientific and clinical experts to help us decide which research projects will have the most impact for ovarian cancer patients. When it comes to science and discoveries, collaboration is key. 

HHMT International Forum on Ovarian Cancer

Every four years Ovarian Cancer Action hosts the Helene Harris Memorial Trust (HHMT) International Forum on Ovarian Cancer. Each Forum brings together the world’s leading ovarian cancer experts to discuss and debate what we need to do to make ovarian cancer a survivable disease. These research priorities are published in the journal, Nature Reviews Cancer and inform our own research objectives.  You can download the Nature Reviews Cancer 2015 article and the lay summary.

The review process

We are a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), and all our research undergoes rigorous peer review. Our Scientific Advisory Board leads our peer review process as is renewed in line with AMRC guidelines on maximum term limits.

Our applications are first sent to be reviewed by peer reviewers. Peer reviewers are usually expert scientists from anywhere in the world that have a similar research area to the applicant. A lot of care goes into picking three peer reviewers who will give good insight into the quality of the application, highlighting any weaknesses that OCA and the Scientific Advisory Board should be aware of.

The applications are also sent to our Ovarian Cancer Action Research Network. The research network is a nationwide, virtual group of people affected by ovarian cancer who use their experience of the disease to help shape our research. The network reviews the applications with a different lens compared to the peer reviewers. They are looking to see:

  • How the work could help women with ovarian cancer
  • Is it of priority to women affected by ovarian cancer 
  • How is the applicant planning to engage with these women

Scientific Advisory Board

Ovarian Cancer Action is a proud member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC).  All AMRC members regularly assess the science they fund using a process called peer review to ensure their research is of the highest standard. Our reviews are carried out by our Scientific Advisory Board, a panel of international ovarian cancer experts who gives us impartial advice on the quality of the work we have funded and will fund in the future.  All of our reviewers and board members abide by our conflicts of interest policy before reviewing any applications for the charity.

At least 50% of the members of the panel must be present for there to be a quorum.

Click here for the full list of our Scientific Advisory Board members.

Ethical research

Research involving animals has played a role in some of the biggest medical advances of our time. When there are no feasible alternatives, we fund research using animals as an essential part of nailing ovarian cancer once and for all. As AMRC members we only fund research that complies with the law, and are committed to refining, reducing and replacing the use of animals in research wherever possible.  We are a signatory of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research and are committed to transparency around the use of animals in research. We also refer applicants to The National Centre for Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research. Ovarian Cancer Action publicly support AMRC’s statement on the use of animals in research, which you can read here.

OCARC - Research

The Ovarian Cancer Action Research Strategy 2022-2027

Our Five Priority Areas

The focus of our research investment will be across five priority areas over the next five years:

  1. Invest in both scientific and clinical improvement research to impact survival for patients today and tomorrow.
  2. Build momentum in the two areas that will deliver the biggest improvement to survival: early diagnosis and effective treatments.
  3. Support the UK ovarian cancer research field by ring-fencing our investment to UK institutions.
  4. Foster worldwide collaboration to share knowledge around the globe.
  5. Keep patients at the heart of ovarian cancer research.

How will we deliver our Research Strategy?

Our plans to deliver the Research Strategy will evolve between 2022-2027. In the first years of the strategy we will:

  • Invest in a new 5yr Programme for the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre.
  • Develop our IMPROVE-UK Clinical Improvement Programme.
  • Maximise impact in across our “Early Diagnosis” and “New Treatments” Grant Programmes.
  • Support and grow the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Network.
  • Attract, nurture and retain the best scientific and clinical talent to work in ovarian cancer.
  • Deliver the 15th HHMT International Forum on Ovarian Cancer.

Would you like to help fund our research? 

You can make a donation or email info@ovarian.org.uk to find out more. With your help we can transform the lives of women now and in the future.