Duke Specialized Program in Research Excellence (SPORE) in Brain Cancer Developmental Research Program - Request for Applications

June 22, 2018


The National Cancer Institute-funded SPORE in Brain Cancer at Duke University is requesting applications for pilot projects for funding through the SPORE Developmental Research Program (DRP).


The DRP of the Duke University SPORE in Brain Cancer supports promising individual or collaborative pilot research projects that have a translational1 potential and are likely to generate new knowledge with a high probability to impact the diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention of adult and/or pediatric brain tumors. In accordance with NIH provisions, all funded DRP projects that have strong translational1 potential may become full projects in the SPORE. Although both clinical and laboratory research projects are eligible for funding, the translational emphasis of the program requires that the hypotheses in all projects have the potential to impact the incidence and mortality of brain cancer or improve the quality of life for brain cancer patients. These projects, however, do not have to reach a human endpoint during the funding period. The resources of the Duke SPORE in Brain Cancer, including the SPORE Biospecimen, Pathology, and Immune Monitoring Core, are available to all investigators and those interested in utilizing these resources should consult with the appropriate Core leaders. Innovative, high risk/high gain projects are encouraged. We particularly encourage women and minority investigators, investigators from minority and other area institutions, as well as individuals who have not previously worked in the brain tumor field to apply. Applications for scientific teams and scientists exploring new areas of investigation are encouraged. Duke is an equal-opportunity employer, and we value diversity in all of its many facets and meanings.


 Applicant(s) must hold a faculty or equivalent position at Duke University or at their institutions, universities or research organizations at the time of the application.

 An applicant should not have previously received funding through the Duke Brain SPORE DRP.

*We are also offering SPORE Career Enhancement Program (CEP) grant awards. The CEP typically supports either junior faculty or established investigators who wish to enhance or refocus their careers on translational1 research in brain cancer.

Please reference the CEP RFA and apply for that award if it is more applicable.

Application Process

The DRP project application process will occur in two stages.

Stage 1: Interested investigators will submit a 1-2 page summary for the proposed project. References are not included in the page count. The summary should include a brief introduction/background, hypothesis and specific aims, brief outline of research approach, 1-2 figures showing preliminary data (if available), and a brief statement of the brain tumor relevance and translational potential of the proposed research. An NIH biosketch of the principal investigator(s) should also be included. DUE DATE IS BY NOON on July 27, 2018. Projects will be reviewed and up to six candidates will be selected for Stage 2.

1 Translational: A term to describe the process by which the results of research done in the laboratory are used to develop new ways to diagnose and treat disease.

Stage 2: Candidates selected for this stage will be invited to give a brief presentation (10-15 minutes) about their project. Specific details will be sent upon advancing to this stage.

Final Selection Process

Proposals will be reviewed using the criteria of Significance, Innovation, Investigators, Environment, and Approach, as defined in the NIH-style review system. The SPORE PIs, DRP Director, and the Oversight Committee will assign scores on a scale of 1-9. The following additional criteria will be considered:

 Compatibility with the goals and objectives of the Duke SPORE in Brain Cancer, other Duke SPORES, and the DCI.

 Potential for translation.

 Potential for development into a full SPORE project or into an independently funded project, e.g., R01.

Selected projects will be asked to submit a complete application on the NIH PHS398 following the NIH R21 format, which will be due before funding is issued. The application should include: a face page, a detailed one-year NIH budget** with budget justification, an abstract of the project (narrative not required), biosketches of PI(s) and other key personnel, a Specific Aims page and a Research Strategy. The Research Strategy should be a maximum of 6 pages, excluding references, and should have the following components:

 Significance: Explain the importance of the problem or the critical barrier to progress in translational cancer research that the proposed project addresses.

 Innovation: Explain how the project challenges and seeks to shift current translational research or clinical practice paradigms.

 Investigator(s): Describe the qualifications of the project leader and his/her prior involvement in brain tumor research and the qualifications of any co-investigators.

 Approach: Describe the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses to be used to accomplish the aims of the project. Include how the data will be collected, analyzed, and interpreted.

Preliminary data can be included at any appropriate places in the Research Strategy. Standard NIH sections on Resources, Human Subjects (including the Inclusion of Women and Minorities and Children consistent with institutional and NIH provisions) and Vertebrate Animals are required. All necessary IACUC, IRB, and any other institutional approvals will be required to be on file prior to an award. Therefore, given the short, one-/two-year term of this award, applicants are encouraged to ensure that these approvals are sought after in a timely fashion. This will expedite award distribution and start of the project.

**Please note that there are no indirects for Duke faculty or staff.


Each selected project will be funded at $50,000 to $100,000 per year for a minimum of one year, renewable for a maximum of two years. Funding decisions will be made in early August, and communicated directly to the Principal Investigator. The project period will be September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2019.

Application Deadline

The Stage 1 deadline for all applications is BY NOON, July 27, 2018. Late applications will not be accepted. All applications will be submitted electronically to Tecca Wright, SPORE Administrator, at tecca.wright@duke.edu.

Notice of Award and Award Management

The project application, review and award process will be completed within approximately three months of the announcement. Award notification will be made by written communication from the SPORE in Brain Cancer PI or Administrator. The SPORE administrative office, working with the DRP leadership, will handle all matters related to the administration of the award.