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Research Development Pilot Awards

The Massey Cancer Center (MCC) will release a call for intramural pilot research funding once a year with specified priorities and multiple mechanisms to support different types of categorical research; both priorities and categories may vary annually. The 2021-2022 priorities and categories are outlined in this Request for Applications (RFA). In addition, the MCC will offer other rolling call funding opportunities as well as continue to offer support for junior investigators through the MCC’s American Cancer Society Institution Research Grant and co-investing with the Pauley Heart Center and other institutional partners in high priority/scored research submissions through their respective calls for applications .


  • Provide pilot funding for new concepts in cancer-related research, including but not limited to: discovery, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control, and survivorship.
  • Address the most immediate cancer needs of MCC’s catchment area (central and eastern Virginia) including the cause or reversal of cancer disparities.
  • Catalyze discoveries by fostering transdisciplinary and translational collaborations among researchers and clinicians.
  • Produce preliminary data to provide a basis for future applications to the NCI, other NIH institutes, or other peer-reviewing agencies or foundations.


  • Both single and Multiple Principal Investigators (PI or MPIs) may apply. For MPIs, at least one PI must have a full-time faculty appointment at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and is required to be an NCI Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG)-eligible member (verify with MCC Administration before applying by contacting Alex Haynes, The contact PI submitting the application must be an NCI CCSG-eligible MCC member.
  • Effort between MPIs from different institutions must be comparable, and both MPIs must contribute to the overall project in similar magnitude.
  • An individual may submit only one application as PI or MPI per year. An individual is allowed to be a co- investigator, consultant, or mentor on multiple submissions. A faculty member currently funded in the role of PI or MPI by an MCC pilot research award is not eligible to submit unless their current award will end by the scheduled start date.
  • A project submitted on a TEAM SCIENCE application will not be considered for funding as a separate INNOVATION PILOT application in the same year.

Award Information

  • Total awards are dependent upon available funding. The number of awards and the award amount may increase or decrease each year dependent upon the MCC budget and philanthropic funding available in any given year.
  • The number of awards and the award amount may increase or decrease each year dependent upon scientific merit of the projects submitted for review and the priorities established for any released RFA.
  • Projects are expected to be completed within the specific budget period. No cost extensions will only be granted in highly exceptional circumstances. Projects will be monitored quarterly for scientific progress and expenditures, and the PI will be expected to account for any inactivity in any given quarter.
  • Projects must have compliance approvals (e.g., IRB, IACUC) in place within 90 days of receipt of the Notice of Award or funding may be rescinded. The official start date of the award and the release of funding will begin once the compliance approvals have been submitted.

2021-2022 Massey Cancer Center Priorities

  • Projects that genuinely demonstrate transdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, or translational approaches to addressing cancer-related research question(s).
  • Proposals that represent collaborative, team science approaches, particularly those that involve investigators from more than one MCC research program in meaningful ways.
  • Research that reveals insight or will directly impact the distinct cancer burden within the MCC catchment area.
  • Research that directly examines the cause or potential reversal of cancer disparities.
  • Research that promotes collaborations between biologists and organic/medicinal chemists to generate novel anticancer drugs.
  • Research that promotes collaborations between tumor immunologists and immunotherapists to generate novel biologics to treat cancer.
  • Projects that directly engage the community in the design, implementation, and/or evaluation of the proposed research. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement to discuss the incorporation of Massey Community Champions into their projects.
  • Projects that utilize MCC-supported shared resources, especially those applicants who have collaborated with one or more MCC-supported shared resource directors to optimize the full capabilities or innovative capabilities of a shared resource.

2021-2022 Categorical Opportunities (Statement of intent due: November 23)

2021-2022 Categorical Opportunities (Statement of intent on a rolling call)

2021-2022 RFA

Application coversheet

Statement of intent

2021-2022 Deadlines – Innovation and Statewide Collaboration Pilots

RFA release: October 26
Statement of Intent due by 5:00 pm EST: November 23
Selected applicants invited to submit full application: December 3
Full applications due by 5:00 pm EST: January 18
Earliest start date: March 1


  • Acceptance of funds implies a firm commitment to provide a brief verbal/email check in progress report quarterly (financial and scientific) by the deadline outlined in the NOA and subsequently, an annual update for a five-year follow-up period. Second year funding is contingent on submission of a written progress report by the stated deadline. Awardees who do not reply to five-year follow up requests will jeopardize future MCC awards.
  • Massey expects that the grantee will completely utilize the full amount of funding during the term of the award. No-cost extensions are highly discouraged and will only be considered under exceptional circumstances. All unspent funds at the end of the grant period will be returned to the MCC.
  • All awards must have appropriate institutional compliance approvals (e.g., IRB, IACUC) within 90 days of receipt of the Notice of Award and before funds will be allocated. The award will now receive a start date until the institutional approvals have been given. No aspect of the project can begin(including non-human subject research components) without documentation of all required approvals. For more information regarding this process please visit:
  • Projects must start within 90 days of receipt of the Notice of Award or funding may be rescinded.
  • All awards, publications, and presentations must acknowledge Massey Cancer Center as specified in the NOA.
  • Acceptance of funds implies a firm commitment to provide the MCC leaders access to meet the team, give talks to the public, and tours of your facilities. Access to your laboratory will be facilitated by MCC administration.

The MCC Catalyst Award is designed to support projects which will generate key preliminary data for future NCI/NIH grant applications. How well each application addresses the following objectives will factor into the reviewers’ overall impact scores.

Applications will be evaluated and scored according to:

  • Scientific merit using NIH guidelines for scoring. Please note that the MCC review is run similar to anNIH study section and while its score drivers are similar, there is an important distinction: the MCC exists to support projects that need vital data to become competitive for an R01 or similar award. For this reason, an IMPORTANT score driver in the MCC review is the potential for future funding. It is the PI’s job to lay out how the MCC funds will ensure a competitive future application. One page is dedicated to this purpose and that page is carefully evaluated during the Study Section meeting and by MCC Senior Leadership when making funding decisions.
  • Potential for achieving high-impact results on an accelerated timeline when compared to the traditional pace of cancer research.
  • Alignment with MCC priorities outlined in each year’s RFA.


*Interested researchers with questions or for assistance accessing related program information, please contact:

Lisa Mallory
Center Research Program Administrator
(804) 628-1750