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Meet the Research Grant Reviewer Session Provides an Opportunity to Interact with AACR Grant Reviewers at AACR Annual Meeting 2023

Please join us for an interactive session taking place Monday, April 17th, at the AACR Annual Meeting 2023. The Meet the Research Grant Reviewers session, will give you an opportunity to ask AACR grant reviewers, Dr. DeGregori and Dr. Iacobuzio-Donahue, any questions you may have. We offer you a sneak peak of what you can learn from attending the session here!

James DeGregori, PhD, is professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Having served on several AACR Scientific Committee panels reviewing applications for AACR fellowships, he said, “These grants provide support for this critical stage in a biomedical researcher’s career. The reviewers on these panels really do have the best interests of the applicants at heart and are very conscientious about providing fair critiques and scores. Still, these grants are very competitive, and we know that excellent applicants and their applications will often not make the funding cut. Applicants should also understand that no matter how conscientious reviewers are, that scientific review is in part subjective.”

James DeGregori, PhD

Dr. DeGregori received the AACR-Johnson & Johnson Lung Cancer Innovation Science Grant in 2018, which he said, “allowed my lab to shift our emphasis from primarily mouse modeling to deep profiling of normal human tissues, through promoting a collaboration with clinicians and others on our campus and at University of Pittsburgh. These studies then led to additional collaborations, such as with the lab of Charlie Swanton at the CRICK institute in London, that have produced valuable new insights into mutational landscapes and how they are changed upon exposure, from pollution to smoking. Thus, the AACR-Johnson & Johnson Lung Cancer Innovation Science Grant allowed us to break into a new area, which we believe will result in fundamental new insights into the earliest stages of cancers.”

He hopes that by attending the Meet the Research Grant Reviewers session, potential applicants can get inside the heads of reviewers and understand the key criteria used to judge applications. “While subjectivity and chance play some role in the grant review process, applicants can at least learn to not make the ‘rookie mistakes’ that could lose them points and keep them out of the highest scoring group,” he said. He added that he and Dr.Iacobuzio-Donahue, “can also provide insight into difficult choices such as balancing innovation vs feasibility – is it better to have a more innovative proposal that might have greater risk or be more controversial, or to have a safer proposal that doesn’t try to forge new paradigms?”

Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, MD, PhD

A physician-scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and director of the David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research, Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, MD, PhD, was awarded the AACR-Barletta Foundation Career Development Award in Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research in 2005. “The project I proposed was high risk and certainly would not have been funded through conventional means,” she said. Adding, “Overall it was so helpful to receive the encouragement of the AACR and scientific selection committee. Ultimately the project ended up being a negative study, but it nonetheless allowed me to support a technician to advance other lab goals that ultimately became the core of my career.”

Dr. Iacobuzio-Donahue has experience serving on the review committees of various organizations. Talking about the AACR research grant review process she said, “The process is as rigorous as any and I am proud to be a part of supporting research efforts through the AACR mission. I find the AACR review meetings to be highly efficient, well organized, and very collegial. Everyone involved is enthusiastic about each application and supporting fellow investigators.” She feels the main benefits of attending the Meet the Research Grant Reviewers session will be learning about the grant review process, however she added, “I also hope to provide some tips and tricks for how to organize a grant to be more successful in obtaining funding.”