High risk, high reward cancer research

Cancer Council Victoria is relentless in its pursuit of breakthroughs.
Venture Grants support innovative researchers with courageous ideas who would not be able to attract conventional funding.

We are seeking the brightest cancer researchers who are willing to push the boundaries of conventional thinking to achieve major breakthroughs in cancer treatment and diagnosis. 

We welcome applications that relate to causes, prevention, diagnosis, supportive care or treatment of cancer and that present a scientifically sound vision that if successful, would open the way for significant advances in cancer control. 

Key dates:

Expressions of interest open: 4 April 2022  

Expressions of interest close: 5pm 29 April 2022 

Full applications open:  3 June 2022 *New Date: Updated from 1 June 2022* 

Full applications close: 5pm 1 July 2022 


Grant applications are encouraged from non-laboratory based researchers as well as laboratory based researchers. Innovative ideas are invited from the full spectrum of Victorian cancer research activity including psychosocial, palliative care, allied health, epidemiology, health economics behavioural and clinical research. 

Proposals must relate to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, supportive care or treatment of cancer.  

Applicants must present a scientifically sound vision that if successful, would open the way for significant advances in cancer control. 

Appropriately qualified researchers must conduct the research at a Victorian host institution (university, hospital, medical or scientific research institute)The first-named chief investigator must have an appointment at the host institute. 

Applicants must be Australian citizens, or graduates from overseas with permanent Australian resident status. 

Available funding 

Four grants are available. Each grant will run for 1- 2 years with a maximum of $250,000 available per year, per grant.  

Full funding is contingent on availability of funds. A pool of funding is currently available to allow the selected projects to commence.
The remainder of the funds is yet to be raised by Cancer Council Victoria. Successful applicants will be asked to meet with prospective donors to assist in fundraising.

Application process and selection criteria

The grant guidelines are intentionally broad. You will have to articulate a case to be funded, and justify the budget requested.
The amount required will depend on the proposal itself. There are no specific limits or guidelines, but amounts sought could be $100,000-$250,000 pa for 1-2 years.
You will have to convince independent peers that the proposal
could yield important new knowledge in your field.  

The application process is conducted in three stages. All applications are assessed against the criteria described in the grant guideline and only shortlisted applicants will be invited to the next stage. Successful applicants must enter into a funding agreement with Cancer Council Victoria.   

Stage 1: Expression of interest application  

Stage 2: Full application  

Stage 3: Presentation and discussion with the Assessment Committee 

Documents and Forms 

Funding agreement

Frequently asked questions and answers

Are not-for-profit organisations eligible to apply as the administering institution?
Yes, not for-profit organisations are eligible to apply for Venture Grants 2022 as long as the organisation can fulfill the pre-conditions outlined in the Funding Agreement (e.g. insurances, procedures for approvals and financial oversight).

What is the maximum number of Chief Investigators (CI) that can be listed on an application?
Each application can have a maximum of 10 investigators (CIA – CIJ)

How many applications is a Chief Investigator able to be listed on?
An individual may be listed once as first-listed CI (CIA) and once as non-first investigator (e.g. CIB-CIJ) in any funding round.

Can a Chief Investigator A (CIA) submit more than one application for Venture Grants 2022?
No, a CIA may only submit one Venture Grant as CIA per funding round.


For further information or assistance, please contact
grants@cancervic.org.au or phone 03 9514 6200 

Venture grants video

Projects that commenced in 2020

In 2020, the following five research projects have been funded through our Venture Grants Scheme worth almost $2.3 million over two years.

Project one:  Developing new ways for tracking the advertising of products known to increase the risk of cancer


Dr Kathryn Backholer

Dr Kathryn Backholer, A/Prof Asim Bhati, Prof Chee Peng Lim, Prof Anna Peeters, Prof Colin Bell, Dr Becky Freeman, A/Prof Michael Johnstone, Ms Christina Zorbas and Ms Jane Martin 

Project location

Deakin University

Project outline

It is known that a third of cancers are preventable and that alcohol, tobacco, and the consumption of a diet high in sugar, salt, and/or fat are major preventable risk factors. Exposure to advertising for these products during childhood has been proven to have lifelong influence, thereby increasing lifetime cancer risk. The need for this to be curbed and regulated to help reduce cancer incidence and mortality is therefore critical. Using complex systems and artificial intelligence, this project aims to revolutionise the way in which unhealthy advertising to children can be captured and monitored.

“Quantification of unhealthy advertising exposure to children and an understanding of how children engage with various forms of advertising and marketing strategies will support the formulation of effective regulatory action to protect children from the economic exploitation of products known to increase the risk of cancer”

Project two: Helping everyone by studying rare “super-survivor” individuals who are immune to the spread of cancer.


Prof Clare Scott

Prof Clare Scott, Dr Kristy Shield-Artin, Prof Magdalena Pebanski, Dr Justin BedÖ, Prof Tony Papenfuss, Prof Susan Ramus

Project location 

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

Project outline

This project will investigate a small group of people who have developed, and survived, three or more completely unrelated cancers in their lifetime. Critically, these people tend to be diagnosed with each cancer early, before it has spread. These individuals provide us with the opportunity to identify new genes that drive cancer development and which may be used to halt the progression of cancer or to find new roles for known cancer predisposition genes. Importantly, do these ‘super survivors’ have unique features that protect them and could this inform the ability to control cancer spread (‘metastasis’) in others? By analysing a significant bank of tumour samples and clinical data, the project team expects to find clues and patterns in ‘super survivors’ that will lead to improved new life-saving treatments.

“By studying ‘super survivors’, we hope to produce new treatments to prevent cancer recurrence. This has the potential to dramatically reduce the cancer burden worldwide over the next decade and beyond.”

Project three: Cas 13 mRNA silencing - a new approach to treating incurable childhood cancers


A/Prof Paul Ekert

A/Prof Paul Ekert, Prof Joe Trapani and Dr Mohamed Fareh

Project location

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre 

Project outline

Cancer in both adults and children is caused by changes, or mutations, that occur in the genes of previously normal cells. These changes alter the nature of cells, such that they divide and grow in an uncontrolled way. Genome sequencing – the technical ability to read the mutations in cancer cells – has revealed the broad range of mutations that drive paediatric cancers. Linked to Australia’s national ‘Zero Childhood Cancer’ program (the largest and most ambitious program to deliver personalised medicine to children with high-risk cancers), this project’s primary goal is to provide a proof-of-principle way of directly targeting these mutations therapeutically.

“Tailoring treatments that fit the individual profiles of a cancer has the very great potential to improve survival chances and diminish treatment side-effects.” 

Project four: Exploiting network vulnerabilities to devise effective combination therapies against breast cancer


Dr Lan Nguyen

Dr Lan Nguyen, A/Prof Helen Abud, Dr Ralf Schittenhelm and Prof Roger Daly

Project location

Monash University

Project outline

Our project takes a novel approach to the complex issue of drug resistance in the treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer cells are known to ‘re-route’ to escape the tumour-killing effects of targeted therapies, but exactly how this happens and how it varies in different patients remains unknown. Widespread resistance to single therapy agents has led to increased use of combination therapies (‘cocktails’ of existing drugs), but there is no reliable way to predict which from hundreds of possible combinations will be effective for individual patients. Leveraging predictive computational modelling, our project will produce critical insights into the mechanisms of cell resistance and identify effective new combination therapies for breast cancer.

“Our project is well poised for rapid research to the clinic due to the efficiency of the computational approach and opportunities for drug repurposing”

Project five: Targeted reprogramming of prostate cancer


Prof Jose Polo

Prof Jose Maria Polo, A/Prof Renea Taylor ,Dr Natalie Lister,and Dr David Pook

Project location

Monash University

Project outline

The development of treatments has conventionally involved targeting factors with high expression in cancer cells, based on the theory that high expression must equate with importance to growth and survival. However, this isn’t always so and has led to the pursuit of false targets. Cancer cell survival is actually controlled by ‘master regulators’, which may be expressed at quite low levels but are nevertheless the most potent and influential. Predicting a cell’s master regulators from thousands of potential candidates is time consuming and costly. Our project proposes an innovative mathematical approach to identifying these factors efficiently, in turn enabling the development of new targeted treatments for aggressive prostate cancer. 

“Our approach will match patients to drugs that will target their specific type of cancer, rather than ‘broadly treating all cancers’ in the way other treatments such as chemotherapy do.”