NIH: Cancer Institute Releases Series of Funding Announcements

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently released a series of funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) designed to enhance the diversity of the NCI-funded cancer research workforce. The awards support individuals from groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical sciences. The Institute notes that a major obstacle to developing a stronger national health disparities cancer research effort has been the lack of significant strategic training programs for students and scientists. It further notes, “Greater involvement of students and scientists from underrepresented backgrounds is integral to a successful national cancer research effort involving more underserved patients and populations.”

The announcements reference the report of the Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce and its finding that individuals from historically underrepresented groups do not fare well in securing NIH funds to conduct biomedical and behavioral research. In addition, the lack of diversity of the biomedical and behavioral research workforce, “which may be due to failure of support infrastructure at various levels,” is a concern for the agency and to the professions.

The NCI Mentored Research Scientist Development Award to Promote Diversity (PAR-15-064) provides salary and research support for a sustained period of “protected time” for intensive research career development under the guidance of an experienced mentor or sponsor. The NCI’s Diversity Training Branch (DTB) of the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) is inviting career development award applications (K01) from individuals from backgrounds that have been shown to be underrepresented in health-related science. Successful candidates will be provided with program navigation and professional development workshop opportunities to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the NIH peer review system and to develop the skills required to prepare competitive grant applications to NIH and other funding agencies. For more information and/or to apply see the announcement.

The NCI Transition Career Development Award to Promote Diversity (PAR-15-063) program is designed to enhance the diversity of the NCI-funded research workforce by providing support to outstanding basic, behavioral, translational, or clinical investigators from backgrounds underrepresented in scientific research to develop their independent research skills. The award (K22) provides protected time through salary and research support for the initial three years of the first independent tenure-track faculty position, or its equivalent. Individuals may apply without a sponsoring institution while they are still in the mentored position. Accordingly, the award encourages applications from advanced postdoctoral and/or newly independent research scientists from diverse populations to enhance their retention in the cancer research workforce. Appropriate K22 applications are expected, but not required, to address problems that are pertinent to cancer health disparities and the biology, etiology, pathogenesis, prevention, diagnosis, control, and/or treatment of human cancer. Additional information is available here.

The NCI Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award to Promote Diversity (PAR-15-062) supports the career development of investigators who have made a commitment to focus their research endeavors on patient-oriented cancer research. The award is for career development of individuals with a health professional doctorate degree from groups nationally underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, and social sciences. According to the announcement, the award (K23) represents the continuation of a long-standing NIH program that provides support and protected time to individuals with a clinical doctoral degree for an intensive, supervised research career development experience in the fields of biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences. The award recognizes the barriers to cancer treatment and notes that a factor contributing to the cancer in health disparity populations is their limited access to patient-oriented clinical oncologists from diverse backgrounds. It further acknowledges the need for diversity among clinician scientists, citing abundant evidence that not only patients, but the biomedical enterprise will directly benefit from broader inclusion. For additional information and/or to apply see the announcement here.

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