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AACR-AstraZeneca Stimulating Therapeutic Advances through Research Training (START) Grants

Grant Amount $225,000 USD
Grant Term3 Years
Start of Grant Term07/01/2020
Application Deadline01/22/2020 1:00 PM (EST)
Decision Date03/2020
Additional Information

April 28, 2020 - Grant recipient must attend the Grants Reception and Dinner to formally accept the grant. Grant funds may be used to support the grantee's registration and attendance at this Annual Meeting.


Dramatic advances made in recent years towards precision medicine initiatives, biomarker and novel target identification, and high-throughput examination of genomic data, have resulted in a trove of valuable data that can inform the development of new therapeutics to combat cancer. However, to effectively harness this wealth of information and advance the discovery and development of new therapies for cancer patients, enhanced collaboration between academia and industry will be needed.

The AACR-AstraZeneca Stimulating Therapeutic Advances through Research Training (START) Grants represent an exciting new initiative to encourage and support such collaboration. This novel model, which will provide support to postdoctoral or clinical research fellows, combines research experiences in both an academic and industry setting, following a research timeline that will be of greatest benefit to the proposed work. The training provided through this grant program will be invaluable to young investigators, by allowing fellows to attain a comprehensive research experience that will make them highly desirable to potential employers in either academic research or the pharmaceutical industry. Likewise, academic research centers and industry will benefit from the introduction of such dual-trained individuals into the field.

Each fellowship provides a three-year grant of $225,000 to support the salary and benefits of the fellow while working on a mentored cancer research project. Applicants must plan to spend one year on site at an AstraZeneca facility. One of a number of AstraZeneca's locations are possible, at the discretion of AstraZeneca. The year at AstraZeneca will be determined on a case-by-case basis, and will be at a time agreed upon by the fellow, the academic supervisor, the AstraZeneca mentor, and AstraZeneca. The research proposed for funding must have direct applicability to cancer with a specific focus on DNA Damage Response (DDR) pathways and may be basic, translational, or clinical in nature.

Any proposals that address topics unrelated to DNA Damage Response pathways in cancer will NOT be accepted.

Program Guidelines
Research Project Criteria

Research projects may be basic, translational, or clinical in nature and must have direct applicability and relevance to DNA Damage Response (DDR) pathways in cancer. Scientific areas of interest include, but are not limited to: mechanism of action of DDR inhibitors (e.g. WEE1 as a target and actions of lead WEE1 inhibitors such as AZD1775), mechanisms of resistance to DDR inhibitors, patient selection and biomarkers for DDR inhibitors, interactions between DDR and immune response and opportunities for combination therapy. The applicant should also define specific milestones and goals to be accomplished during each year of the fellowship, emphasizing how the experience in industry is expected to complement the time spent in academia.

Any proposals that address topics unrelated to DNA Damage Response pathways in cancer will NOT be accepted.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must have a doctoral degree (PhD, MD, MD/PhD, or equivalent) in a related field and not currently be a candidate for a further doctoral degree.

At the start of the grant term on July 1, 2020, applicants must hold a full-time, mentored research position with the title of postdoctoral fellow, clinical research fellow, or the equivalent; this position must have been held for at least one, but not more than three, years; completed their most recent doctoral degree within the past one to three years (i.e., degree cannot have been conferred before July 1, 2017); and work under the auspices of a mentor at an academic, medical, or research institution in the United States of America.

Applicants with a medical degree must have completed their most recent doctoral degree or medical residency - whichever date is later - within the past three years.

If eligibility is based on a future position, the position must be confirmed at the time of application, and cannot be contingent upon receiving this grant.

Investigators may submit only one application for the AACR-AstraZeneca START Grant but may concurrently apply for other AACR grants. However, applicants are expected to accept the first grant they are awarded. Individuals may accept and hold only one AACR grant at a time.

Employees or subcontractors of a U.S. government entity or for-profit private industry are not eligible. Postdoctoral or clinical research fellows conducting research in a U.S. government laboratory (e.g., NIH, CDC, FDA, etc.) are not eligible.

Any individual who currently holds an active AACR grant may not apply. Past grantees may apply if they complied with all progress and financial report requirements.

Investigators currently or previously holding the rank of instructor, adjunct professor, assistant professor, research assistant professor, the equivalent or higher are not eligible. Qualified researchers are invited to apply for an AACR Career Development Award.

Exception: If you are an MD who is considered a postdoctoral fellow but hold the title of instructor so that you can see patients, you may be eligible. Potential applicants possessing an MD are encouraged to contact AACR’s SRGA before submitting an application to verify your eligibility.

AACR's Scientific Review and Grants Administration Department (AACR's SRGA) at before submitting an application.

Citizenship Requirements

There are no citizenship requirements. However, by submitting an application for this grant, the applicant who is not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident assures that the visa status will provide sufficient time to complete the project and grant term.

AACR Membership Requirements

Applicants should be AACR members. Annual dues are not required for early-career researchers interested in Associate membership. Nonmembers interested in this grant opportunity must submit a satisfactory application for AACR membership, and be members in good standing, by the application deadline. Nonmembers can apply for membership using the Official Application for Membership submitted to the AACR with the required documents or apply online. Suspended Members can renew their membership through their myAACR account. Lapsed members should contact the Membership Department at for assistance and with any questions.

Application Instructions

The AACR requires applicants to submit an online application by 1:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 using the proposalCENTRAL website at

Program Guidelines and Application Instructions are available in PDF format.