Faced with a shortfall in income of as much as 25% due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cancer Research UK has cut its research funding by £44 million.

CRUK is the world’s largest independent cancer charity and funds almost half of the UK’s cancer research. In 2018, the organisation spent £413 million on basic, clinical and translational research.

But amid the coronavirus pandemic, the charity has now decided to slash existing grants by up to 10% and reduce funding for its 14 national research centres by 20%. CRUK is expecting losses of up to £120 million to its fundraising income as it closed shops, cancelled events and repurposed laboratories to support the Covid-19 response. Many of the organisation’s clinical research fellows have been called to the frontline, while others are refocusing their work on finding a solution to the pandemic.

‘Making funding cuts to our research is the most difficult decision we’ve had to make,’ wrote three of the organisation’s leaders – executive director of research and innovation, Iain Foulkes, its chief scientist Karen Vousden and chief clinician Charles Swanton – in a statement. ‘These cuts are substantial and will set back the cancer research effort within the UK, potentially for many years.’

CRUK is also considering reducing its staff’s salaries or placing them on furlough. The organisation’s executive board has already taken a 20% pay cut. The charity said they would focus on protecting studentships, and has offered additional flexibility to grant holders on how and when to use their money.