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About the NCI Director’s Innovation Award Program

The NCI Director's Intramural Innovation Award Program is designed to support development of highly innovative approaches and technology aimed at significant cancer-related problems. Novel proposals from either the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) or the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) with the potential for high impact, the potential to generate new intellectual property or technology, or which are considered too high-risk or preliminary to pursue within the base budget allocation are encouraged. Proposals with an emphasis on health disparities research are encouraged. This program offers one-time awards for use at two levels:

IMPORTANT: CCR staff members must submit both their Letter of Intent (LOI) and application via the CCR Resource Request System (RRS). All staff members who are submitting an LOI and application for a Career Development Award must do so via their Principal Investigator's RRS account. The RRS is accessed through the CCR Portal Login page at

Key Dates:

September 2013: Letters of Intent (LOI) will be due in late September.
October 2013: Applications will be due in late October.

The exact deadlines will be provided in the e-mail sent out by Dr. Janelle Cortner.


Staff affiliated with either intramural Division (i.e., CCR or DCEG) may submit proposals. Applications may be from individuals or collaborative teams.

Principal Investigator (PI) Innovation Award applications will be accepted from: Career Development Innovation Award applications will be accepted from: RESUBMISSIONS of proposals submitted for the FY12 round will be accepted but must include a brief statement highlighting any significant changes from the prior submission.

PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS may apply again EXCEPT FOR Staff Scientists who have received an Innovation Award during their current quadrennial review period. Previous recipients must clearly articulate how the new application is distinct from the previously funded project.

Level of Support:

PI Innovation Award amounts are specific to the project's proposed budget, not to exceed $50,000. "One- shot" awards will be made in Dec/Jan for use in FY14. Because the awards are "one-shot," it is expected that awards will be used to cover supplies, services, or equipment. Awards cannot be used to support personnel.

Career Development Innovation Award amounts are specific to the project's proposed budget, not to exceed $10,000. Awards must be used in FY14, during the recipient's intramural appointment.

Evaluation Criteria:

Proposals will be evaluated based on degree of innovation and potential for high-impact conceptual or technological breakthroughs on difficult or high-risk problems in cancer-related research. Applicants should clearly articulate all innovative and high-risk aspects of the proposal, as well as the potential impact on the field and the potential to lead to new intellectual property or technology. Low-risk proposals or applications proposing the "next logical step" of a PI's ongoing research will not be considered for PI Innovation Awards.

Follow-Up Requirements:

Recipients are required to provide a brief (2-page) report summarizing their results and accomplishments. Innovation Award projects do not require Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) review, but may be presented at site visit, at the recipient PI's discretion.

Letters of Intent (LOI) will be submitted by the designated deadline via the Principal Investigator's RRS account. Detailed instructions for submitting will be posted on the RRS home page. LOIs must contain the same information as the application cover page (see below).

Applications will be due in late October 2013 in the Division Offices and will consist of:
  1. Application Cover Page (Letter of Intent content is the same as cover page content)
    1. Applicant information, including:
      1. Name and affiliation
      2. Position type and any required dates:
        • Tenure Track PI
        • Senior PI; indicate date of tenure
        • Senior Scientist or Senior Clinician (note that these are non-PI positions.)
        • Postdoctoral Fellow (CRTA, VF or RF)
        • Staff Scientist or Staff Clinician; indicate date of last quadrennial review
      3. Contact information (physical address, email, phone & fax)
      4. Total budget requested (dollar figure, no detail here)
    2. Application Type and Project Title:
      1. Application Type: either Career Development or PI Innovation Award
      2. Project Title
      3. Resubmissions: Indicate "Resubmission" and briefly summarize any significant changes to the project or modifications made in response to reviewers.
      4. Previous Recipient: Indicate "Previous Recipient" and briefly summarize how the new application is distinct from the previously funded project.
    3. Statement of Innovation: Briefly explain innovative aspects of the proposal, discuss the potential for high-impact conceptual or technological breakthroughs, and describe any new IP or technology the project may generate.
    4. Project Abstract: Stand-alone summary of the proposal, not to exceed 500 words
  2. Research Plan: 3-5 pages, covering background and significance, hypothesis, specific aims, preliminary data (if any), research design and key references. Be sure to explain innovative approaches, discussing how these are novel and the potential advantages over existing approaches.
  3. Budget: List and justify costs for new equipment, supplies and services, animal work, and other expenses. PI Awards may not exceed $50,000. Career Development Awards may not exceed $10,000. All funds must be committed in FY14.
  4. Collaborators and Resources: Identify key collaborators; letters of support may be included. Identify the facilities or equipment essential to the proposal from beyond your lab.
  5. Abbreviated CV and bibliography OR standard PHS biosketch.
Questions related to Letters of Intent (LOIs) and applications should be directed to:

Dr. Janelle Cortner
Tel: 301.846.5712