American Association for Cancer Research

Grant Giving Model and Expert Review Process

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Overview

SU2C is founded on the belief that there is now strong knowledge of the basic science of cancer and that technologies are available to allow the focused practical application and proximal translation of even more basic science knowledge to patients with cancer. Furthermore, the successful application of this knowledge will result in more rapid advances in the treatment of patients and the prevention of cancer in those individuals who are at risk. The purpose of SU2C is to establish and support a focused and intense effort to affect these advances as rapidly as possible. SU2C believes that it can benefit the most patients by accelerating the course of cancer research through raising philanthropic dollars and developing unique mechanisms to utilize these funds. This novel approach is being designed in a way that will lead to the rapid funding of innovative ideas without bureaucratic delays. SU2C will utilize mechanisms to foster collaboration of the most talented and promising researchers across institutions; a team-oriented approach that promotes the sharing of information; and a goal-oriented focus on key problems in cancer designed with measurable milestones of progress. SU2C is committed to identifying the most promising opportunities and leveraging its fiscal and management resources to achieve a paradigm shift in clinical cancer research. SU2C is committed to transparency and high-quality science in its funding activities and believes that this can be accomplished within the framework of a truly innovative approach to support SU2C-funded research.

SU2C funds will support research projects conducted by interdisciplinary, multi-institutional translational and clinical research Dream Teams and high-risk Innovative Research Grants from which ideas for new Dream Teams may arise.  The funds will be administered through the American Association for Cancer Research, the oldest and largest scientific organization in the world focused on every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research. Grants management and expert review will be conducted by AACR via a rigorous yet nimble, rapid, and transparent process led by a "Blue Ribbon" Scientific Advisory Committee. The committee is chaired by Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., chairperson, along with distinguished scientists, Arnold J. Levine, Ph.D., and William G. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., vice-chairpersons, and includes an additional 19 highly accomplished senior laboratory researchers and physician-scientists and two advocates to be elected by the Advocate Advisory Council. A multidisciplinary Innovative Research Grants Committee, appointed by the Scientific Advisory Committee, reviews the innovative grant proposals. The prestigious committee is chaired by Richard D. Kolodner, Ph.D., along with Vice-chairpersons William G. Kaelin Jr., M.D., and William G. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.

Funding Mechanisms

Dream Teams - 70% of SU2C Funds

Functions: Dream Teams will be responsible for conducting collaborative, novel, groundbreaking cancer research projects that address critical problems in patient care and are designed to deliver near-term patient benefit. 

Funding: Dream Teams will be given sufficient resources to support the required focused, intense, goal-directed, team-oriented attack on the cancer problem, provided the Scientific Advisory Committee finds that the funds are justified and that milestones and objectives have been appropriately selected and are being satisfactorily pursued and achieved. Indirect costs charged by the institutions will be capped at about 10%. The final number of Dream Teams will depend on the amount of money raised.

Areas of Investigation: The foci chosen for Dream Teams will be based on both perceived opportunities for success as well as high-priority areas with critical need for rapid progress beyond current medical care. The focal topics for Dream Teams, both particular organ sites and other specialized research areas, will be determined by the Scientific Advisory Committee. Additional ideas for promising areas of investigation by Dream Teams will be solicited by the AACR from the scientific community in a parallel, open process for consideration by the Scientific Advisory Committee.

Composition: Dream Teams must be translational in nature. In order to maximize creativity and innovation, they must include laboratory and clinical researchers, scientific and technical fields that are relevant to the research project, senior and young investigators, and senior scientists who have not worked together in the past. Each Team will consist of one or two Dream Team Leaders who are experts in translational research, no more than eight Dream Team Principals including the Leaders, and at least two advocates. No Dream Team will have more than one Dream Team Leader or Dream Team Principal from any given institution at the time of their initial appointment on the Team.

Innovative Research Grants - 20% of SU2C Funds

The Innovative Research Grants program is intended to provide funding for innovative, high-risk research proposals with the potential to advance SU2C's overarching goal of improving the lives of cancer patients through the application of science to the prevention or treatment of cancer. It is the hope that ideas for new Dream Teams will emerge from these innovative research projects, and these criteria will be given the highest priority in the evaluation of these proposals. This grants program was established in the name of the late Judah Folkman, M.D., to honor him as one of the great innovators in cancer research, an outstanding teacher of young investigators, and an early contributor to the SU2C project. Research applications will be solicited annually and will provide for up to three years of funding of up to $250,000 per year. The AACR will cast a wide net across the cancer research community to attract research proposals in both clinical and basic research. This funding mechanism is not meant to replace classical funding sources; rather it will encourage novel, high-risk, high-impact proposals not usually funded by conventional peer review. A special, multidisciplinary Innovative Research Grants Committee, appointed by the Scientific Advisory Committee, will review the innovative grant proposals, assess progress, and make recommendations to the Scientific Advisory Committee for funding meritorious applications that are most consistent with SU2C's goals and objectives for translational research and near-patient benefit. A high priority will be given to the funding of young investigators (for example, at the assistant professor level) who either have expertise in or demonstrate clear potential for translational cancer research and who are not currently members of the funded Dream Teams. The Scientific Advisory Committee will review the report of the Innovative Grants Committee, prioritize and balance the portfolio of innovative funds, and submit its recommendations for funding to the Board of Directors for final action. 

Reserve - 10% of SU2C Funds

This portion of the funds will be set aside to sustain the SU2C initiative and also to provide a contingency fund for unexpected research opportunities.