Press release

University of Dundee joins new global fight against cancer

Published on 6 March 2024

World-leading expertise from the University of Dundee’s Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation (CeTPD) will contribute to a new, global effort to tackle some of the most significant challenges posed by cancer.

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Professor Alessio Ciulli, Director of the CeTPD and a recognised leader in the field of targeted protein degradation (TPD), will collaborate with other international experts to explore new means of tackling solid tumours in children. He will be part of the Cancer Grand Challenges KOODAC team, which brings together clinicians, advocates and scientists with expertise in structural biology, chemical biology, paediatric oncology and medicinal chemistry, across ten institutions and five countries.

Founded by two of the largest funders of cancer research in the world – Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute in the US – Cancer Grand Challenges will fund five teams for five years with sums of up to $25 million each. The KOODAC team is funded by Cancer Research UK, Institut National Du Cancer and KiKa (Children Cancer Free Foundation) through Cancer Grand Challenges.

Cancer remains a leading cause of death due to disease among children globally, and outcomes for some childhood cancers have not improved in more than 30 years. Treatments for solid tumours in children still rely on decades-old chemotherapies, and often radiotherapy. 

Team KOODAC will use protein degradation strategies to target previously undruggable drivers of children’s cancers. Any drug that could emerge from these programmes has the potential to revolutionise the field and transform the lives of those affected by that particular cancer type. 

Professor Ciulli is a recognised leader in the field of TPD, an innovative field that has provided the scientific community with hope of treating diseases previously thought to be undruggable.

He will collaborate with other leading academics from around the world, utilising innovative methods to identify and develop urgently needed therapies and treatments for children affected by solid tumours.

“We were honoured to be invited and immediately felt a sense of purpose, a strong focus on team science, and realised the unique opportunity and call ahead of us,” said Professor Ciulli.

“Revolutionising paediatric solid tumour treatment demands global collaboration in the face of persisting outdated therapies. 

“We have assembled a team with unrivalled technology and expertise to realise our ambitious goal of driving innovation in targeted paediatric cancer therapeutics. Our vision is to pioneer drugs that will become the new standards of care for children with oncoprotein-driven solid malignancies.”

Dr David Scott, Director of Cancer Grand Challenges, added, “Together with our network of visionary partners and research leaders, Cancer Grand Challenges unites the world's brightest minds across boundaries and disciplines and aims to overcome cancer’s toughest problems.

“With this investment, our largest to date, we continue to grow our global research community, and fund new teams that have the potential to surface discoveries that could positively impact cancer outcomes.” 

Notes to editors

Co-founded in 2020 by two of the largest funders of cancer research in the world: Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute, Cancer Grand Challenges supports a global community of diverse, world-class research teams to come together, think differently and take on some of cancer’s toughest challenges. These are the obstacles that continue to impede progress and no one scientist, institution or country will be able to solve them alone. With awards of up to $25M, Cancer Grand Challenges teams are empowered to rise above the traditional boundaries of geography and discipline to make the progress against cancer we urgently need.


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489