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Spring 2024 Awards Cycle Important Dates

  • Letter of Intent due April 8
  • Application portal opens April 15
  • Applications due May 6

The Tier 1 Award is intended to support the development of cancer research programs and to serve as a stimulus for new research initiatives aimed at obtaining sufficient preliminary data to allow new applications for extramural funding.

All UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center members and UNC Chapel Hill faculty are eligible to apply. Basic and pop-sci research categories require applicant to be a faculty member of any rank, tenure-track or non-tenure-track. Applicants in the clinical/translational category ONLY may be non-faculty (clinical fellow) with faculty sponsor.

Postdoctoral fellow eligibility for Tier 1 awards 

The Cancer Center biannual innovation awards program has traditionally been open to all UNC faculty to promote innovative cancer research allowing groups to branch out in new directions.

To promote the ability of postdoctoral fellows to obtain future independent funding to support novel and innovative ideas, postdoctoral fellows will be eligible to submit Tier 1 ($50,000) proposals as the PI with a letter of support from their faculty mentor. The proposals should have an element of innovation and not just be to complete existing research. The proposals can be in any arena and will be reviewed by UNC Lineberger leaders in the population, basic, translational and clinical sciences.

Proposals will be evaluated on the same criteria as other awards, but postdoctoral proposals will receive special consideration to enhance chances of funding while competing against more established faculty. The purpose of the awards program remains to fund cutting-edge, innovative science that can initiate a program of future funding.

Terms of the Award

Each award will consist of up to $50,000 for one year, with expected start dates of either July 1 (April submission) or January 1 (October submission). Funds should be expended within one year of receipt. Contact the program director for requests to change start date or extend the funding period (no-cost extension).

A report summarizing financial expenditures and a brief summary of the scientific outcome of the project is required two months after the end of funding. When requested, all awardees will be expected to provide updates of publications and long-term grant support or other accomplishments that originated from the award.


All UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center members and UNC-Chapel Hill or other UNC system school faculty are eligible to apply. Non-UNC applicants must be in collaboration with a UNC faculty member unless they are submitting under a targeted RFA for non-UNC faculty applications. Non-faculty (clinical fellows) in the clinical/translational category ONLY are encouraged to apply but must obtain sponsorship or partnership with at a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member. The application must include a letter from the faculty member agreeing to support the project and agreeing not to submit their own proposal for the same project in the same round.

Tier 1 Awards should have only one principal investigator. Applicants can be principal investigator on only one proposal per round. Applicants can be named on other proposals (in the tiers with multiple investigators).

Faculty awardees are ineligible to apply again during the time of their funding and maybe asked to participate in the review process for up to three rounds of submissions. For awardees who are not faculty members, their faculty sponsors will be asked to participate in review.


Proposals will be judged by the following criteria:

  • Scientific merit
  • Relevance to award category (basic, clinical/translational, or population sciences)
  • Qualifications, experience, and productivity of the applicant
  • Project feasibility given facilities, budget, time, and other resources available
  • Potential for future external funding and publications


Review will be chaired by a UNC Lineberger Associate Director and be composed of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center members, including representation from each of the nine programmatic areas. Applications will be assigned at least two reviewers (usually three), who will score applications according to the criteria above, using the NIH scale of 1-9 (best to worst).


A. Projects must be completed in the designated period of the grant proposal. Tier 1 grants are for one year. Clinical applicants or others with time consuming preliminary requirements may apply for change in start/end dates. No-cost extensions must be formally

B. Funds may be budgeted for any of the standard categories and for purposes deemed necessary for the successful execution of the proposed project. Costs are limited to those directly related to the research proposed (overhead/indirects are not allowed). The following additional restrictions apply:

    1. Faculty salary – Requests for salary support of tenure-track or fixed-term faculty as principal investigators or co-investigator are not allowed. Requests for non-tenure track faculty who direct labs or projects and requests for consulting biostatistics faculty support (for data analysis) can be considered; however, requests for this kind of support should be appropriate for the level of effort required. Salary, tuition, and other funds for non-faculty named on the budget are allowed in amounts appropriate for the level of effort.
    2. Travel – Requests for travel support should be limited to funds directly related to project performance. Travel to conferences and meetings will be permitted. International travel is also permitted.
    3. Equipment – Requests for equipment should be limited to funds directly related to project performance. For example, a laptop for a research assistant to use in clinic to collect data would be appropriate.
    4. Current or recent awardees – The intent of this funding program is to develop novel and innovative approaches and teams to improve our understanding of cancer and its impact on our patients. Faculty who have recently obtained funding should include an explanation as to why the new award in distinct and novel. The new application will be reviewed more critically with regards to innovation.
    5. Use of recruitment or retention funds – Applicants with current recruitment or retention packages are allowed to submit proposals. However, if chosen for funding the Center may request an adjustment to your budget in the form of cost matching from your existing Center commitment.

Unused funds will revert to the supporting funding source. All proposed expenses must conform to the general policies of the University. Projects that use the UNC Lineberger Biostatistics Shared Facility, the Tissue Procurement Core, and/or other core resources are encouraged to consult with those cores prior to submission.

Requirements for Awardees

A. Prior to funding, all awarded projects that involve animals or human subjects must be reviewed and approved in accordance with the University’s general assurances and HIPAA. Reviews and approvals may be “Just in Time” and are not required for registration/application. Projects involving human subjects must be submitted to an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Intervention studies and clinical protocols must be reviewed and approved by the UNC Lineberger Protocol Review Committee. All investigators and all persons named on the budget page must have certification of training in the protection of human subjects. Appropriate animal forms must also be filed and approved.

B. A kick-off meeting must be scheduled with the Developmental Awards Team (book kickoff meeting here) within 4 weeks of the proposal start date.

C. A halfway point progress meeting must occur with the Developmental Awards Team (book progress meeting here) (at 6 months for Tier 1 and 1 year for Tier 2).

D. A summary progress report shall be submitted two months after the end date of support. This report must be submitted earlier if the recipient of the grant is leaving the University. The summary progress report should give a financial accounting of funds used for the project, and reference all research products generated, including abstracts submitted/published, peer-reviewed articles submitted/published, grant applications submitted/funded, and potential/actual intellectual property (reports of invention, ).

Principal investigators will provide updates on publications, grants, and patents after the end of the funding, when asked.

Where appropriate, progress reports should identify the counties and populations involved or affected. For example, for an intervention for adults that works through African-American churches in six NC counties, the report should acknowledge the population (African Americans) and name the six counties included in the study.

E. All manuscripts, abstracts, posters, and presentations should acknowledge support from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Developmental Funds, e.g., This work was supported by a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Developmental Award which is supported in part by P30 CA016086 Cancer Center Core Support Grant.

F. Awards co-funded by other sources will also adhere to reporting and other requirements established by those programs. Awardees are informed of their source(s) of funding in the notice of award.

Application Format

Proposals must include in ONE PDF in this exact order:

  • A Title Page that includes: title of the proposal, the PI’s name, primary appointment, faculty rank, and contact information, the name, title and contact information of faculty sponsor, if applicable; Tier and category (basic, clinical/translational or population science) of the proposal; total Budget Registering online does not automatically create this title page: please include in your PDF.
  • Scientific Abstract: The abstract summary of the proposal for use by review committee members and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (250-word maximum).
  • Lay Abstract: Please provide a lay abstract/project narrative summarizing the research to a general audience in plain It should avoid the use of jargon and explain any technical terms. These lay abstracts will be used to describe the purpose of the research to the larger non-scientific community and will be reviewed by community and patient advocates as part of the review process. ** NOTE: If you do not include a lay abstract, or simply paste your scientific abstract, your proposal will be returned.
  • Budget: Use PHS 398 Form Page 4
  • Budget Justification: The Budget Justification should include sufficient detail for reviewers to assess whether appropriate resources have been requested (no page limit).
  • Specific Aims: 1 page
  • Research Plan: The application should follow the format: Significance, Innovation, and Approach. Include where applicable clear evidence of how the proposal meets the review criteria and is relevant specifically to cancer. Five-page limit, including tables and figures. Specific Aims and References do not count towards the 5-page limit; single spacing, font no smaller than Arial 11, and half-inch You may include an appendix, but reviewers are not required to read beyond the 5-page limit. Letters of support may be beyond the 5-page limit. You should include a statistical analysis plan where applicable. In addition, if you plan to submit a multi-PI R01 or other team science grant, please state your plan in your research plan. All should be in the one PDF.
  • Non-faculty applicants: must include a letter from a UNC Lineberger faculty member who agrees to support the project and agrees not to submit a proposal for the same project in the same round.
    • Additional changes for postdocs:
      • Letter of Support: a letter from a UNC LCCC faculty member who agrees to support the project and agrees not to submit a proposal for the same project in the same round. This letter should also describe how the faculty member plans to mentor the applicant. 
      • Respective Contributions: a statement explaining the respective contributions that the applicant and their sponsor had in the writing and editing of the application. Please specify who wrote and edited the application (e.g., I wrote 90% of the application, which includes the specific aims and research strategy. My PI wrote 10% of the application, which includes a letter of support as well as minor edits. (150-250 words) 
      • Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR): a statement describing their previous and future plans for RCR training. (150-250 words) 
      • Career Goals/Professional Development: a paragraph stating their career goals and what professional development activities they plan to pursue during the course of their award. (150-250 words) 
      • Mentoring Activities: a paragraph describing past circumstances where they have served as a mentor and describe how they plan to mentor others during the course of their award. (150-250 words) 
  • Proposal Timeline
  • Human and/or Animal Subjects: Although Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) approval is not required prior to submission, briefly describe any human and/or animal subject If human subjects will be involved in the research, provide a description of their involvement and characteristics, specific risks to subjects who participate, and protection against those risks. Describe the sources of materials that will be obtained from human subjects as part of their study participation. Provide assurance that the project will be reviewed and approved by the UNC IRB and comply with HIPAA. If vertebrate animals are to be used, provide a description of the proposed use of the animals in the work outlined and procedures for ensuring that discomfort, distress, pain and injury will be limited. Projects involving animal subjects must be reviewed and approved by an IACUC (no page limit).
  • NIH Biosketches for the key members of the research
  • Progress Report (if applicable) describing accomplishments of former UNC Lineberger awards


The application website will be announced and opened approximately one week ahead of the deadline. Both registration and submission must be completed by 5 p.m. on the deadline date.

Find more information about the application, guidelines and requirements: Developmental Awards Application


If you have questions, please contact our team at