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Funding Opportunities

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center regularly solicits applications for pilot funding to support basic, translational, clinical or collaborative cancer research. Pilot funds allow investigators to collect preliminary data to support an application for independent research support through extramural, peer-reviewed funding. Over the past five years, the Cancer Center awarded $4.1 million to fund 98 pilot projects. This investment led to the acquisition of more than $41 million in extramurally funded grants – a 985 percent return on investment.

Calls for proposals are distributed throughout the year by email, online, and in campus publications. Award amounts and submission deadlines vary. All pilot project awards are funded for one-year periods.

For more information, contact us at

Current Opportunities

American Cancer Society-Institutional Research Grant (IRG)

Deadline: Monday, May 4, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.

Submit Your Proposal


Complete this online application to apply for pilot funding

Funding Sources

Source Eligibility Funding Cycle Amount Principal Investigator
American Cancer Society-Institutional Research Grants (ACS-IRG) Open to junior faculty in any school/department at Vanderbilt University Spring & Fall up to $30,000 Scott Hiebert, Ph.D
Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center members only Variable up to $35,000  Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.
Breast SPORE Tenured and tenure-track faculty at Vanderbilt or Meharry Medical College with membership in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Variable

up to $50,000

Carlos Arteaga, M.D.
GI SPORE Tenured and tenure-track faculty at Vanderbilt, Meharry Medical College or Tennessee State University with membership in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Spring up to $50,000 Robert Coffey, M.D.
Thoracic Program Tenured and tenure-track faculty at Vanderbilt or Meharry Medical College with membership in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Variable $25,000 to $50,000 Pierre Massion, M.D.
Hematology Helping Hands Fund (HHHF) Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center members only Variable $10,000 to $20,000 Madan Jagasia, M.D.
VICC Ambassadors Junior faculty at Vanderbilt Fall $50,000 Scott Hiebert, Ph.D. 


American Cancer Society-Institutional Research Grants

The American Cancer Society (ACS)-Institutional Research Grant (IRG) is the major source of support at Vanderbilt University for young investigators building cancer research programs. These funds provide seed money to support junior faculty members with an interest in cancer research who do not have national grant support of their own or who have not received prior support from the IRG. The ACS defines junior faculty as investigators at the rank of assistant professor or equivalent who are eligible to apply as a principal investigator for grant support from national agencies. Eligible investigators must be within six years of their first independent faculty appointment. Awards are made for a one-year project period and the maximum allocation is limited to $30,000. If sufficient progress has been made toward the project goals, IRG support may be renewed for an additional year. Funds are available to all schools at Vanderbilt University.

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Cancer Center Support Grant Pilot Projects

Funding provided by the Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) supports several types of pilot projects (1) highly innovative pilot projects focusing on proof-of-concept or translational research; (2) preliminary collaborative investigations that lead to multi-investigator grant awards or clinical trial; (3) projects that closely align with the Cancer Center's strategic plan and enhance key initiatives; and (4) pilot funding for junior investigators to jump-start independent projects or for more senior investigators looking to study a novel idea derived from discovery.

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SPORE Pilot Projects

The Breast SPORE Developmental Research Program provides pilot funding to promote excellent translational research in breast cancer. These funds allow early, high-risk research to move solid basic science findings toward clinical application, as well as the migration of provocative clinical observations back to the laboratory in order to understand their mechanistic basis. Main criteria for selection and funding of developmental (pilot) projects include scientific merit, relevance to mammary biology and/or breast cancer, collaboration and potential for extramural peer-reviewed funding. There also is an emphasis on utilization of emerging technologies and on young investigators.

The GI SPORE Developmental Research Program solicits applications twice yearly from investigators at Vanderbilt, Meharry Medical College or Tennessee State University. Proposals are reviewed for scientific merit and the likelihood of leading to extramural funding. Special emphasis is placed on attracting young investigators into GI cancer research, high risk/high gain projects, and emerging technologies and their application to GI cancer research. Award amounts of up to $50,000 per project.

Current Opportunity:  GI SPORE Pilot Project Funding   

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Thoracic Program

The Thoracic Program provides pilot funding for the conduct of basic, translational, or clinical research on the cause, prevention, detection, control, or treatment of lung cancer. Funds support projects from individual investigators or collaborative teams. Original cancer-related projects with the potential to develop into independent R01 grants are encouraged. Current Pilot Project awardees are eligible to apply for an additional year of funding. Grants from $25,000 to $50,000 in total costs are awarded for a one-year period.

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Hematology Helping Hands Fund

The Hematology Helping Hands Fund was started in 2007 at the request of philanthropic donors to provide financial aid for patients undergoing stem cell transplant. The program has evolved over the last eight years and now allows for 25 percent of the funds to be used for research projects. RFAs are distributed to cancer center members. Applications are peer reviewed and awards in the range of $10,000 to $20,000 per awardee are granted. In addition, important pilot projects which are aligned with cancer center mission and felt to be at high yield for federal funding are supported.

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VICC Ambassadors

The VICC Ambassadors are the next generation of philanthropists committed to winning the battle against cancer by awarding Discovery Grants to promising young researchers at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Discovery Grants allow skilled researchers to pursue exciting discoveries in basic and clinical science—aiding our understanding of disease processes and leading to better methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment. For Vanderbilt physicians and scientists this funding not only yields early results, it helps develop the ideas that grow to large federally funded projects aimed at transformative breakthroughs in care. Three grants of $50,000 each are awarded every fall.

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Other Funding Resources