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2019-20 Anti-Cancer Challenge Research Pilot Project

Request for Proposals

Important Dates

  • Pre-Application Webinar: September 10, 2019 2-3 pm (see below for more information)
  • Letter of Intent due: September 27, 2019 by 5:00 pm
  • Application due: November 1, 2019 by 12:00 pm 
  • Earliest Start Date: January 2, 2020


Funds are available from the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (CFCCC) Anti-Cancer Challenge (ACC) to support cancer-related pilot projects.

The objectives of the CFCCC Pilot Project Program are to increase the number of extramural peer-reviewed collaborative grant awards; support the development of investigator-initiated early phase clinical trial protocols by clinical investigators, particularly interventional trials; advance novel diagnostic or screening technologies, therapeutic molecules or devices, and bio-behavioral interventions from bench to bedside; and advance research cancer control, population sciences and pediatric cancers.

Award Tracks

This competition will provide up to 15 awards of up to $40,000 each (direct costs) along two tracks, with a specific emphasis on projects capable of significant impact within 1-2 years:

  • Track 1 projects are standard 1-year basic or translational pilot project proposals, with an endpoint of a competitive peer-reviewed extramural grant application. 
    • Projects to acquire key preliminary data for a planned submission/resubmission of a peer-reviewed extramural grant, especially to NCI.
    • Special consideration is to applications supporting resubmissions that generate new data in response to prior critiques.
  • Track 2 projects are Early Phase Clinical Research project proposals, with an endpoint of an interventional investigator-initiated treatment trial at UC Irvine Health within a 2-year time frame.
    • Trials must be managed by the Stern Center for Cancer Clinical Trials & Research.
    • Projects must be initiated from a Disease-Oriented Team or a multidisciplinary tumor board, must include a DOT-approved clinical protocol and should have full regulatory approval within 6 months of award. While Track 2 projects are not necessarily expected to lead to extramural peer-reviewed funding, pharmaceutical industry co-sponsorship is encouraged.

The following FOCUS AREAS will be especially competitive:

  • Research addressing cancer(s) of highest incidence or mortality (e.g., melanoma, lung, colon & rectum, breast, pancreas, prostate) in the catchment area.
  • Projects addressing research questions in population health and cancer control (etiology and/or intervention) relevant to the catchment area.
  • Projects addressing cancer health disparities in the catchment area, e.g., the higher incidence and mortality of liver cancer in Asian Americans, or of melanoma in Hispanics.
  • Projects addressing unique aspects of a specific cancer burden in the catchment area (e.g., EGFR mutation rates in never-smokers and patients with adenocarcinoma) will be given particular consideration.
  • Projects addressing pediatric cancers.
  • Collaborations involving Disease-Oriented Teams or multidisciplinary tumor boards that seek to advance a novel diagnostic or screening technology, therapeutic molecule or device, or bio-behavioral intervention to a clinical trial.
  • Projects leveraging CFCCC Shared Resources.
  • Applications from Early Stage Investigators are encouraged.


A.  Eligibility

  • UC Irvine researchers eligible to serve as principal investigator on a research grant (e.g., faculty or project scientist) and CHOC Hyundai Cancer Institute-affiliated physicians are eligible to apply; however, CFCCC membership must be established prior to award.  
  • CFCCC membership must be established by the time of award.
  • Each PI may submit only one application.

B.  Selection Criteria

  • Applications will be peer reviewed in accord with NIH criteria with explicit emphasis placed on the near-term impact (i.e., within 1-2 years). 
  • Projects from clinical researchers and basic science investigators that extend their studies to clinical or translational research are strongly encouraged, as are applications from early stage investigators and investigators whose projects use CFCCC Shared Resources or involve significant new collaborations.

C. Extramural Application Mentorship and Review

  • Track 1 applicants must include in their application a detailed extramural funding strategy related to their project (e.g., for a planned new application: type of grant, funding agency, FOA if any, key preliminary data needed; for a resubmission: merit score (if any) and critiques, key preliminary data needed). Early Stage Investigators(as defined by NIH; see https://grants.nih.gov/policy/early-investigators/index.htm) must participate in a formal application mentoring session (see below) prior to the conclusion of the grant. Senior investigators may elect to participate in the mentoring program if they desire, but it is not required.
  • • The mentoring session will be held toward the end of the project and include submission of a progress report to the mentoring committee and a 15-20 minute chalk talk. Committee feedback should be incorporated into the project and reflected in subsequent grant applications.
  • • A member of the review committee will review progress throughout the term and must have a chance to evaluate the formal grant application prior to submission.

D.  Regulatory Approvals

  • Proposals with a clinical component must have an existing human subjects’ protocol that is either IRB-approved or ready for IRB submission (i.e., DOT-approved).
  • If sufficient progress in obtaining regulatory approvals has not been made within 6 months after award date, the CFCCC may withdraw the award.

E. Budget and Reporting

  • Plan to spend the award within 1 year for Track 1 projects and within 2 years for Track 2 projects.
  • Faculty salaries, equipment and travel costs are not allowed.
  • A single no-cost extension for up to 6 months will be considered; all no-cost extensions will be reviewed by the Center Administrator and extensions beyond that will be subject to approval by Center leadership.
  • A short progress report is due at the end of 6 months and a final report is due within 30 days of completing the project.

F.  Letter of Intent

A Letter of Intent is due Friday, September 27, 2019 by 5:00 PM. Applicants must submit the LOI using the attached 2019 LOI template and with the naming convention Lastname_ACC LOI_YYYY-MM-DD (e.g., Smith_ACC LOI_2019-09-27) by email to Katelyn Ogawa at ogawakh@uci.edu. The LOI is required so that Center administration can anticipate the peer-review workload. LOIs will not be reviewed. Applicants should proceed with their full proposal after submitting the LOI.

The LOI should include:

  • Application track (1 or 2)
  • Title of the project
  • Names, rank, affiliation and email of the contact PI and other key personnel
  • One paragraph abstract/introduction about background, significance, and impact of the research
  • Specific Aims

G.  Application Due Date

Applications are due Friday, November 1, 2019 by 12:00 PM. Applications received after this deadline will not be considered.

H.  Application Format

Applicants must submit the attached 2019 Pilot Application. The application should clearly state why funding through this pilot grant mechanism is appropriate and should clearly outline the specific plans for extramural grant submissions (Track 1 projects) or for launching an investigator-initiated treatment trial at UC Irvine (Track 2 projects).

Completed applications will include:

  1. Cover page with requested project information, a scientific abstract (NIH format) and a lay abstract (3-4 sentences)
  2. Project Description (3 pages maximum) including the Background and Significance, Research Plan and Specific Aims, and the rationale for requested funds with specific plans for extramural grant submissions or investigator-initiated treatment trials.
  3. References cited.
  4. Budget and budget Justification (1 page each)
  5. Include an NIH Biosketch listing your current sources of funding and a one-line description of the primary goal of each funded grant. A biosketch should be included for each key personnel involved with the project.
  6. Applications must adhere to the following formatting requirements: Arial font; 11 pt.; minimum 0.5 inch for all margins; no appendices.

I.  Application Submission

The application should be submitted via email as one complete pdf file named Lastname_ACC Application_YYYY-MM-DD (e.g., Smith_ACC Application_2019-11-01) to Katelyn Ogawa at ogawakh@uci.edu. Receipt of all applications will be acknowledged within 48 business hours.

J.  Award Timeline

Applications will be reviewed in November and funding is expected to begin by January 2, 2020.