Exploratory Grant Award to Promote Workforce Diversity in Basic Cancer Research 2017, USA

Publish Date: Jan 17, 2017

Deadline: Jun 22, 2017


This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) invites applications from investigators from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social science research with interest in research projects focused on the basic biology of cancer. The purpose of this FOA is to provide opportunities for new investigators from underrepresented backgrounds who have entered the research pipeline. This initiative will also provide a bridge to investigators that have completed their training and may need extra time and/or support to develop a research project grant (e.g., R01) application. This FOA seeks to enhance funding opportunities for investigators including those supported by the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) such as the Career Development Awards, Diversity Supplements and those investigators participating as co-leaders on research projects in the Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity.

This FOA will use the NIH Exploratory/Developmental (R21) grant mechanism. The R21 exploratory/developmental grant supports investigation of novel scientific ideas or new model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential for significant impact on biomedical or biobehavioral research. An R21 grant application need not have extensive background material or preliminary information. Accordingly, reviewers will focus their evaluation on the conceptual framework, the level of innovation, and the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or understanding. Appropriate justification for the proposed work can be provided through literature citations, data from other sources, or, when available, from investigator-generated data. Preliminary data are not required for R21 applications; however, they may be included if available.


The NIH recognizes a unique and compelling need to promote diversity in the NIH-funded biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences workforce. The NIH expects efforts to diversify the workforce to lead to the recruitment of the most talented researchers from all groups; improve the quality of the educational and training environment; balance and broaden the perspective in setting research priorities; improve the ability to recruit subjects from diverse backgrounds into clinical research protocols; and to improve the Nations capacity to address and eliminate health disparities.

Accordingly the NIH continues to encourage institutions to diversify their student and faculty populations and thus to increase the participation of individuals currently underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences such as: individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from socially, culturally, economically, or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds that have inhibited their ability to pursue a career in health-related research. Institutions are encouraged to identify candidates who will increase diversity on a national or institutional basis. The NIH is particularly interested in encouraging the recruitment and retention of the following classes of candidates:

  1. Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (see data at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/showpub.cfm?TopID=2&SubID=27 and the most recent report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be convincingly demonstrated to be underrepresented by the grantee institution should be encouraged to participate in this program.
  2. Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  3. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who are defined as:
    1. Individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds. These thresholds are based on family size; published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census; adjusted annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index; and adjusted by the Secretary for use in all health professions programs. The Secretary periodically publishes these income levels at HHS - Poverty Guidelines, Research, and Measurement. For individuals from low income backgrounds, the institution must be able to demonstrate that such participants have qualified for Federal disadvantaged assistance or they have received any of the following student loans: Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL), Loans for Disadvantaged Student Program, or they have received scholarships from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Scholarship for Individuals with Exceptional Financial Need.
    2. Individuals who come from a social, cultural, or educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that have demonstrably and recently directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career.

Recruitment and retention of individuals from disadvantaged background (C1 and C2) are most applicable to high school and perhaps undergraduate candidates. Since this opportunity announcement is for a higher level of education, Category C does not apply.

The CRCHD through its Diversity Training Branch (DTB) employs several funding mechanisms that provide a continuum of support to investigators from diverse populations designed to enhance the pool of competitive investigators available to participate in cancer research at NCI. While many of the investigators funded through the Career Development (K) awards have successfully obtained extramural funding, there is still a large pool of investigators that have been unsuccessful at obtaining funding at the research project grant (e.g., R01) level. The reason for this has been due to lack of enough pertinent funding opportunities and competitive preliminary data in most of the situations. Therefore, it is imperative to provide funding opportunities to support investigators actively conducting basic cancer research studies but without substantial preliminary data to be fully competitive at the R01 level. The NCI's CRCHD in collaboration with the Division of Cancer Biology seeks to offer an exploratory grant (R21) mechanism to encourage investigators from diverse populations to submit R21 applications focused on basic cancer biology.

Specific Research Objectives

Research applications should focus on basic cancer research and cancer health disparities, consistent with the research interests of both the Division of Cancer Biology and the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.

The DCB supports research in the areas of cancer cell biology, cancer etiology, cancer immunology, and hematology, DNA and chromosome aberrations, structural biology, and the tumor microenvironment.

The CRCHD supports cancer health disparity research that is focused on basic, hypothesis-driven studies that explicitly address the unequal burden of cancer amongst racial/ethnic minorities or other underserved populations across the cancer continuum (prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship).

Research topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:

  • Investigations of aberrant and/or modified processes that promote cell transformation, cell proliferation, or inhibition of cell death, and the identification of connecting pathways that ensure tumor cell survival.
  • Investigations of cancer-related mechanisms of DNA damage/repair, and related molecular, cytogenetic, epigenetic, and chromosomal effects during induction and progression to malignancy.
  • Investigations of biological and chemical carcinogens and their properties, mechanisms of oncogenesis and carcinogenesis, interactions of oncogenic microbiological agents with their hosts, and basic studies to identify possible targets for preventive or therapeutic measures.
  • Investigations of interactions of cancer cells with the host microenvironment in order to delineate the molecular mechanisms of tumor growth, angiogenesis, invasion, progression, and metastasis.
  • Investigations of the immune response to tumors, hematopoietic differentiation, the biology of hematopoietic tumors (including AIDS lymphomas), and immunologic aspects of bone-marrow transplantation.
  • Investigations of cancer-related structural biology, genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, epigenomics, nanotechnology, molecular and cellular imaging, combinatorial chemistry, bioinformatics, computational and mathematical modeling, theoretical approaches to cancer biology, and the development of the technologies and software that enable this research.
  • Investigations of genes, proteins, and signaling networks responsible for observed cancer-relevant disparities among human populations in any of the topics listed above.

Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

  • Hispanic-serving Institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)

For-Profit Organizations

  • Small Businesses
  • For-Profit Organizations (Other than Small Businesses)


  • State Governments
  • County Governments
  • City or Township Governments
  • Special District Governments
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Federally Recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Other than Federally Recognized)
  • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
  • U.S. Territory or Possession


  • Independent School Districts
  • Public Housing Authorities/Indian Housing Authorities
  • Native American Tribal Organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Faith-based or Community-based Organizations
  • Regional Organizations
  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions)

Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are eligible to apply. Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are eligible to apply. Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed.

Application Due Date(s): June 22, 2015; November 30, 2015; June 22, 2016; November 30, 2016; June 22, 2017; November 30, 2017, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:


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Biomedical Sciences

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Opportunity Types


Eligible Countries


Host Countries

United States