September 2021 EGRP Cancer Epidemiology News

EGRP Cancer Epidemiology News

Tools to Develop Your Research Idea

For experienced and newer investigators alike, it can be difficult to keep up with the wealth of information that is available for identifying and applying for NIH and NCI grant funding. Below are key resources and advice for investigators developing a research idea for a grant application.

Building on Past and Current Projects

It is a good idea to determine if, and the extent to which, research projects have addressed or are addressing your research question. To supplement your literature reviews, NIH has resources to learn about funded research.

The RePORT Expenditures and Results (RePORTER) system allows users to search a repository of both intramural and extramural NIH-funded research projects and the Matchmaker tool lets you search for similar projects (and their associated NIH Program Directors or Program Officers). The Research Portfolios section on the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) website offers information about currently funded grants, published Requests for Applications, Program Announcements, Notices of Special Interest, funding history since 1998, and more. Program Directors (PDs)/Program Officers (POs) in DCCPS’ Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) can also point you to information on what EGRP has funded.

Considering the Scientific Priorities of the NIH and NCI

Becoming familiar with key reports and announcements is one way to keep abreast of scientific areas of interest to NCI, other NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs), and NIH broadly. The "Reports" section on the RePORTER website provides links to frequently requested reports; strategic plans for NIH ICs and specific research topics, e.g., obesity research; National Academies reports funded by NIH; and many other special reports, such as NCI's Annual Plan and Budget Proposal.

Investigators can get a preview of potential upcoming NCI funding opportunities by reviewing the minutes of the Board of Scientific Advisors, which discusses new and re-issued concepts for NIH Requests for Applications (RFAs) and NCI-sponsored Program Announcements (PARs). The National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) hears reports on current NCI initiatives, projects, funding, etc.

PDs/POs have knowledge of specific research gaps and can talk with you about how your research interests fit within the strategic priorities of EGRP, DCCPS, NCI, and NIH. Subscribing to NCI email updates and Twitter accounts can also help you stay abreast of important developments.

Assessing Available Resources

One important component of choosing a topic is ensuring that you have the appropriate resources, expertise, and training to address the research question. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you begin:

It is helpful to write a concept paper (a brief description of the research idea, including specific aims) early on, and use it as you talk to colleagues and NIH PDs/POs about your idea. Getting feedback from others early and often will help you refine and shape your ideas and make your grant more competitive. In particular, EGRP PDs/POs can help you identify funding opportunities that may be relevant to your area of interest.

How Can a Program Director/Program Officer Help?

EGRP PDs/POs support both the scientific priorities of the NCI and extramural researchers. Providing guidance to investigators before a grant application is submitted is an important part of their role. (See the DCCPS New Grantees page for more information on the scope of responsibilities [PDF].) A PD/PO has knowledge of research gaps, scientific advances, NCI and NIH priorities and policies, and can help you identify pertinent funding opportunities and position your research idea within the strategic priorities of EGRP, DCCPS, NCI, and NIH. Here are a few tips for having a conversation with a PD/PO:

  1. First, identify a PD/PO who can help you by searching for your area of interest on our Staff List or Research Interest Areas page.
  2. Email the PD/PO to set up an appointment to discuss specific aims or questions.
  3. Provide key points you would like to discuss in advance; outlining specific aims and potential public health impact can also be helpful.
  4. Identify the best way to communicate (e.g., email, phone).

General Grantsmanship Resources for Investigators

Of course, there are also many resources related to other stages in the NIH funding process:

Funding Opportunities

* Note: NCI is not participating in this funding announcement.

Requests for Information

  • User Experience with Scientific Data Sources and Tools (NOT-OD-21-182, responses due October 15, 2021)
  • Systematic Review Centers with Nutrition Expertise for DRI Development (NOT-OD-21-173, responses due October 15, 2021)
  • Research Opportunities to End Hunger, Food and Nutrition Insecurity (NOT-OD-21-183, responses due November 1, 2021)
  • Search Capabilities across the Biomedical Landscape for NIH-wide Data Discovery (NOT-OD-21-187, responses due December 3, 2021)

Grants Policy Notices

  • Reminder: NIH Natural Disaster Policy – Hurricanes Henri and Ida (NOT-OD-21-178)
  • Reminder of Guidance on Requirement for NIH Single Institutional Review Board (IRB) Plan (NOT-OD-21-174)
  • Extending the Special Exception to the NIH/AHRQ/NIOSH Post-Submission Material Policy During the COVID-19 Pandemic: May 2022 Council (NOT-OD-21-179)
  • Clarification and Guidance for Applicants Preparing Applications for the Fall 2021 Due Dates During the COVID-19 Pandemic (NOT-OD-21-080)

Research Resources

NCI & NIH News

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