Reflecting on the AACR Grants Program in 2014, and Looking Ahead to the New Year

Since establishing our grants program in 1993, we at the American Association for Cancer Research have provided over $200 million in funding for cancer research projects that aim to advance the understanding and treatment of cancer. As 2014 comes to a close, we reflect on a successful and exciting 21st year for the program, during which we provided more than 60 awards to cancer researchers at all stages of their careers. Many of these grants resulted from new partnerships with foundations such as Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer and the Ocular Melanoma Foundation, while others were awarded through existing partnerships with organizations such as Stand Up To Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Caring for Carcinoid Foundation, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation, Leonard Family Foundation, Kure It Cancer Research, and Genentech.

Former AACR President Charles Sawyers, MD, left, and event emcee Victor Velculescu, MD, PhD, speak at a dinner honoring grantees at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014.

Former AACR President Charles Sawyers, MD, left, and event emcee Victor Velculescu, MD, PhD, speak at a dinner honoring grantees during the AACR Annual Meeting 2014.

In 2014, the AACR also expanded the Basic Cancer Research Fellowship Program for young investigators — mentored scientists at the earliest stages of their careers who are in critical need of funding to launch their future as independent scientists. The increased funding for this program came from generous contributions from our members, which were then matched by the AACR with the assistance of a philanthropic donor. This matching program has returned to raise funds for the 2015 Basic Cancer Research Fellowship Program, with every dollar donated to the AACR Foundation being matched one-to-one from now until Dec. 31, 2014.

All of the funds awarded to our current class of AACR grantees, from mentored researchers to established scientists, are being put to great use. These investigators are publishing their work in high-impact journals, presenting their research at national and international scientific conferences, and collectively garnering millions of dollars in additional funding to continue their innovative research efforts.

And they aren’t doing it alone.

With over 100 collaborations stemming from their research projects, our grantees are exemplifying the spirit of working together to achieve a common goal — curing cancer. In response to such vibrant teamwork among our grantees, we created the AACR Grantee Network, a LinkedIn group intended for current and former AACR grantees, as well as Scientific Review Committee members. The purpose of this group is to provide a forum to facilitate discussion, foster collaborations, and serve as a convenient resource for grantees to interact with each other and the AACR.

Indeed, 2014 has been an exciting year. We expect that next year will bring even more growth, success, and important breakthroughs, as well as continued interaction between the AACR and its grantees. Our 2015 grants program is launched and in full swing, and we invite any interested researchers to visit our funding page to peruse the many grant mechanisms we offer. We currently have several funding opportunities open and are accepting applications.