Beginning Investigator Grant for Catalytic Research (BIG Cat)
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 $55,000 USD 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 $10,000 USD may be allocated from the grant to support travel applicable to the research project and relevant scientific meetings, including mandatory attendance at the 2025 AACR Annual Meeting and biennial AORTIC conference. Although collaborative research projects are encouraged, grants are not intended for principal investigators outside of Africa. All grant funds provided must be spent in Africa, with the exception of limited support for travel to international scientific meetings and conferences.
Program Guidelines and Competitve Letter of Intent Instructions are available for download here.
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.
Applicant must have an advanced degree (doctoral or medical) in a related field and not currently be a candidate for a further advanced degree.
At the start of the grant term on July 1, 2024, 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 (i.e. degree cannot have been conferred before July 1, 2014).
- 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.
- Applicants with a medical degree must have completed their most recent doctoral degree, medical residency, or fellowships (e.g., FWACS, FWACP) - whichever date is later - within the past ten years.
- 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 an African nation.
- Not have received a BIG Cat award in prior years.
Applicants must have legal residency status in an African nation and proof of residency is required. Some restrictions may apply. Please read the Program Guidelines and Competitive Letter of Intent Instructions for additional information.
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. AACR membership is encouraged at the Letter of Intent stage, but not required. Please be informed that AACR offers reduced membership due rates for applicants from countries with emerging economies based on the World Bank listing. If selected to submit a full application, applicants must be AACR members in good standing (dues paid for the current year). Nonmembers can apply for membership online. Please review the Membership Categories for the category that best fits your qualifications. Nonmembers must obtain a statement of support from a nominator who is an Active AACR member in good standing (dues paid for the current year). Nonmembers requiring assistance with finding a nominator may email [email protected] and include your geographical location to receive a list of members in your area to contact for nominations. For more information check the membership FAQ. AACR members can renew their membership through myAACR. 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.
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 Tuesday, December 5, 2023, using the ProposalCentral website at https://proposalcentral.com/.
Program Guidelines and Competitive Letter of Intent Instructions are available for download here.