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Beginning Investigator Grant for Catalytic Research (BIG Cat)

Grant Amount $55,000 USD
Grant Term2 Years
Start of Grant Term07/01/2022
Letter of Intent Deadline12/15/2021 5:00 PM (UTC)
Letter of Intent Notification DateFeb. 2022
Application Deadline03/29/2022 5:00 PM (UTC)
Decision DateJune 2022
Additional InformationAN AFRICAN ORGANISATION OF RESEARCH AND TRAINING IN CANCER (AORTIC) PROGRAM Administered by AACR and in coordination with the U.S. National Cancer Institute Center for Global Health (NCI/CGH) and supported by Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Please read the Program Guidelines and Competitive Letter of Intent Instructions carefully before submitting a Letter of Intent. Final determinations of eligibility will not be made until the AACR is in receipt of the fully submitted Letter of Intent.

Cancer is becoming a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Africa. The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that cancer deaths in Africa will double by 2040. This trend poses major challenges for public health activities in Africa. Among the many needs, there is a need to generate local evidence and knowledge upon which appropriate clinical, public health, and policy guidelines can be built. Historically, the pool of cancer researchers in Africa has been limited, in part because early-career funding mechanisms to help launch junior investigators into research careers are very limited. In order to address the growing cancer health crisis, a pipeline of talented and creative early-career African investigators must be fostered to generate knowledge that can be used to address cancer needs in Africa and beyond. Furthermore, the development of academic and research pursuits in Africa will provide opportunities to advance the continent’s need for biomedical, economic, academic, and social development on a variety of levels. The  Beginning Investigator Grant for Catalytic Research (BIG Cat) represents a joint effort to address this need by promoting and supporting early-career investigators in Africa to establish a successful career path in cancer research, thereby increasing and sustaining a cadre of talented cancer researchers in Africa.

BIG Cat is a premier initiative by the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) to build capacity for cancer research in Africa. The  goal of BIG Cat program is to aid the next generation of African cancer researchers to base their careers in their home countries and institutions, and to contribute to the overall expansion of capacity for research and training in Africa by generating evidence that will guide practice and policy. BIG Cat was initiated in 2010 by the US National Cancer Institute Center for Global Health (NCI/CGH), and it is now a collaborative effort of AORTIC, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and NCI/CGH, with funding support from Partners including academic, industrial and scientific organizations.

The research proposed for funding may be in any area of cancer research, including basic research, clinical research, population-based research and translational research across the cancer care continuum (prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment , supportive and palliative care, and survivorship). These grants are intended to catalyze subsequent application for funding from other funding sources, not to support longer term research. Each grant will provide US$55,000 over two years for expenses related to the research project, which may include salary and benefits of the grant recipient and any collaborator, postdoctoral or clinical research fellows, graduate students (including tuition costs), and/or research assistants, research/laboratory supplies, equipment, publication charges for manuscripts that pertain directly to the funded project, and other research expenses. Indirect costs is limited to no more than 10% of the total grant amount. Up to US$10,000 may be allocated from the grant to support travel applicable to the research project and relevant scientific meetings, including mandatory attendance at the 2023 AACR Annual Meeting and biennial AORTIC conference. The grants are not intended for principal investigators outside of Africa, although collaborative research projects are encouraged. All funds provided must be spent in Africa with the exception of limited support for travel to international scientific meetings and conferences.

Program Guidelines

Competitive Letter of Intent Program Guidelines and Application Instructions are available for download here.

Research Project Criteria

Research projects may be in any area of cancer research, including basic research, clinical research, population-based research and translational research across the cancer care continuum (prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship). Applicants are encouraged to be innovative in their research proposals and demonstrate local relevance of their proposed research.

Eligibility Criteria

At the start of the grant term on July 1, 2022, the Principal investigator (PI) must:

  • Be a beginning investigator, defined as a clinician or scientist who received his or her highest degree of study within the past ten years. An earned academic (or research) doctorate [such as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)], or medical degree [such as a Doctor of Medicine (MD),Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) or Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB, MB BS, BM MCh, etc.)] which is considered the highest degree of study in most African countries. When an investigator has received multiple terminal degrees, the calculation will be based on the date of award of the most recent degree.
  • Be a current member with AORTIC. Note: AORTIC membership is also mandatory at LOI stage.
  • Reside in and be conducting research in Africa with particular relevance to the African cancer burden on the continent. Proof of residency is required.
  • Have legal residency status in Africa.
  • Not have received a BIG CAT award in prior years.

AACR is obligated to comply with U.S. laws and regulations regarding research and related transactions in countries subject to US Government enforcement of economic and trade sanctions for particular foreign policy and national security reasons.  If your proposed project involves US Government sanctioned countries subject to restrictions, please contact the AACR’s Scientific Review and Grants Administration (the AACR’s SRGA) at [email protected].

Citizenship Requirements

Applicants must have legal residency status in Africa. A list of eligible countries can be found in the Competitive Letter of Intent Program Guidelines and Application Instructions. Proof of residency is required.

AACR Membership Requirements

AORTIC and AACR membership are required. Only AORTIC members in good standing will be eligible to submit a Letter of Intent. Nonmembers of AORTIC can apply for AORTIC membership online at If selected for submission of a full application, any nonmembers will need to also submit an application for AACR Membership, and be members in good standing, by the full application deadline. Nonmembers of AACR can apply for AACR membership online. Lapsed members can renew their membership through myAACR to bring their membership current. You will need your logon (email address) and password to access the member portal. If you require assistance logging in, please submit a help form. Lapsed members must be members in good standing by the full application deadline and should contact the Membership Department at [email protected] for assistance.

Application Instructions

Competitive Letter of Intent Program Guidelines and Application Instructions are available for download here.

The BIG Cat program requires applicants to complete an online Letter of Intent submission by 5:00 p.m. UTC (1:00 p.m. Eastern Time) on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, using the ProposalCentral website at