The AICR's aim is to support fundamental research into the causes, mechanisms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. The emphasis is on scientific, as opposed to clinical research, but no rigid distinction is drawn between the two. The association is keen to support recently qualified researchers, work in areas that are relatively underfunded or unexplored, pump-priming or preliminary research projects, and projects involving international collaboration.
AICR emphasises the need for a flexible approach to funding, and is always examining new approaches to solving problems in cancer research. Projects are mainly for three years and include funding for research staff (post doctoral and/or PhD students), consumables, small items of equipment and travel to conferences. Collaboration is encouraged between individual recipients of grants. Applications for research grants are received from research staff at universities, research institutions and hospitals worldwide.