EGRP News Flash - September 14, 2011

Two Requests for Applications Issued for Research Answers to NCI's Provacative Questions

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is sponsoring two Requests for Applications (RFAs) to support research projects designed to use sound and innovative research strategies to solve specific problems and paradoxes in cancer research as identified by NCI's Provocative Questions (PQs). The parallel FOAs of identical scientific scope solicit applications for research projects using the NIH Research Project Grant (R01) and the NIH Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21) funding mechanisms.

Over the past year, NCI has participated in a series of workshops to identify, articulate, and prioritize compelling but understudied problems in cancer research to create a list of PQs. These PQs are not intended to represent the full range of NCI priorities on cancer research. Rather, they are meant to challenge cancer researchers to think about and elucidate specific problems in key areas of cancer research that are deemed important but have not received enough attention.

Most PQs fall broadly into three categories. The first type of questions brings intriguing but older, neglected observations that have never been adequately explored. Other PQs are built on more recent findings that are perplexing or paradoxical, revealing important gaps in current knowledge. Finally, some PQs reflect problems that traditionally have been thought to be intractable but now may be open to investigation using new strategies and recent technical advances.

To be responsive to these RFAs, each application must address a particular scientific problem as defined in these RFAs (and further defined at http://provocativequestions.nci.nih.govExternal Web Site Policy).

Examples of specific PQs of interest to cancer epidemiologists include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How does obesity contribute to cancer risk?
  • What environmental factors change the risk of various cancers when people move from one geographic region to another?
  • Are there ways to objectively ascertain exposure to cancer risk using modern measurement technologies?
  • Why don't more people alter behaviors known to increase the risk of cancers?
  • Given the evidence that some drugs commonly and chronically used for other indications, such as an anti-inflammatory drug, can protect against cancer incidence and mortality, can we determine the mechanism by which any of these drugs work?
  • What are the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which patients with certain chronic diseases have increased or decreased risks for developing cancer, and can these connections be exploited to develop novel preventive or therapeutic strategies?
  • How does the life span of an organism affect the molecular mechanisms of cancer development and can we use our deepening knowledge of aging to enhance prevention or treatment of cancer?
  • As we improve methods to identify epigenetic changes that occur during tumor development, can we develop approaches to discriminate between "driver" and "passenger" epigenetic events?
  • Given the recent discovery of the link between a polyomavirus and Merkel cell cancer, what other cancers are caused by novel infectious agents, and what are the mechanisms of tumor induction?
  • Are there definable properties of a non-malignant lesion that predict the likelihood of progression to invasive or metastatic disease?
  • Why do second, independent cancers occur at higher rates in patients who have survived a primary cancer than in a cancer-na´ve population?
  • Since current methods to assess potential cancer treatments are cumbersome, expensive, and often inaccurate, can we develop other methods to rapidly test interventions for cancer treatment or prevention?
  • Can we determine why some tumors evolve to aggressive malignancy after years of indolence?

NCI intends to fund approximately 15-20 R01 awards, corresponding to a total of up to $10 million and approximately 12 R21 awards, corresponding to a total of up to $5 - $7.5 million for fiscal year 2012. Future year amounts will depend on annual appropriations. Budgets for R01 applications are not limited but must reflect the actual needs of the proposed project, which may not exceed 4 years. The total project period for R21 applications may not exceed 2 years and the combined budget of direct costs for an R21 two year project period may not exceed $275,000, and no more than $200,000 may be requested in any single year.

Applications are due on November 14, 2011, by 5:00 P.M., local time of applicant organization.

The Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) has assembled background information on the PQ program, easy access to NCI's current research investments, and answers to common questions.

The DCCPS liaison is William Klein, Ph.D., Associate Director, Behavioral Research Program.

Access the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts for details:

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