Tier 1: Pilot Awards

Spring 2018 Applications will be due March 15 at 5 p.m.; submission link will be live March 1

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..

Jump to:

Terms of the Award

Each award will consist of up to $50,000 for one year, with expected start dates of either July 1 or January 1. 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 one-page 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 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-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 asked to participate in the review process for four future rounds (two years). For awardees who are not faculty members, their faculty sponsors will be asked to sit on review committees.


Proposals will be judged by the following criteria:

  • Scientific merit
  • Relevance to award category (basic, clinical/translational, or population sciences) and cancer relevance
  • 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 LCCC Associate Director and be composed of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center members, including representation from each of the nine programmatic areas. The review committees are made up both of former awardees and ad hoc experts chosen based on the applications received. 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 – 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 protocol requirements may apply for change in start/end dates. No-cost extensions must be formally requested.

B. Funds may be budgeted for any of the standard categories and for purposes deemed necessary for the successful execution of the proposed project. However, restrictions and additional scrutiny apply:

  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.   

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 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, etc.).

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.

C. All manuscripts, abstracts, posters, and presentations should acknowledge support from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Developmental Funds, e.g.:  This project was funded [in part] by a grant from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

D. Awards co-funded by multiple sources will also adhere to reporting and other requirements established by those sources.

E. Faculty awardees will be asked to serve on review committees for the duration of their funding. For awardees who are not faculty members, their faculty sponsors will be asked to sit on review committees. 

Application Format

Proposals must include (in this order): 

  • A Title Page that includes: title of the proposal, the PI’s name, primary appointment, faculty rank, and contact information, the name, academic title and contact information of faculty sponsor, if applicable; Tier and category (basic, clinical/translational or population science) of the proposal; total Budget requested. 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).
  • Budget: Use PHS Form 398   (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/fp4.docx)
  • Budget Justification: The Budget Justification should include sufficient detail for reviewers to assess whether appropriate resources have been requested (no page limit).
  • Research Plan: The Research Plan should follow the standard NIH format: Specific Aims, Significance (including cancer relevance), Innovation, and Approach.
    • Five-page limit, including tables and figures. References do not count towards the 5-page limit; single spacing, font no smaller than Arial 11, and half-inch margins. 
    • You may include an appendix, but reviewers are not required to read beyond the 5-page limit. All should be in the one PDF. 
  • Non-faculty applicants (clinical/translational category clinical fellows only): Must include 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.
  • 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 issues. 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, describe 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 team.  
Questions? Please contact amenkens@email.unc.edu