Request for Applications

Starr Cancer Consortium Twelfth Grant Competition

Key Dates

RFA Issue date:   May 10, 2018
Letter of Intent deadline:  June 14, 2018
Application deadline:  July 24, 2018 - 5pm
Expected award start date:  January 1, 2019


Through a generous gift from the Starr Foundation, five institutions in New York and Boston formed the Starr Cancer Consortium, a collaborative framework to advance research in new ways that will have an impact on the understanding, diagnosis, prevention or treatment of cancer.

The Starr Foundation renewed its commitment to the Starr Cancer Consortium with a renewal grant of $50 million over five years starting in 2019; $40 million ($8 million per year) for grant competitions through this annual RFA mechanism and $10 million ($2 million per year) for the Starr Technology Commercialization Fund.

The five institutions participating in the Starr Cancer Consortium are the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medicine.

The Starr Cancer Consortium is intended largely to support critical mass, collaborative projects with the potential for transforming impact on the understanding and treatment of cancer, through the development and systematic application of molecular technologies, by investigating cancer biology or addressing important clinical problems. It is aimed at encouraging meaningful and ambitious collaborations between the participating institutions to develop and apply innovative approaches to transform cancer research and ultimately diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

All projects supported by the Consortium must be collaborative, involving investigators from two or more of the five participating institutions.

This RFA is for the twelfth grant competition. Nine applications were selected for funding from the 11th Grant Competition. Information on awarded grants.


The objective of this RFA is to solicit proposals for transformative collaborative research across institutions. Note - the collaborations must be real and new and each collaborating laboratory must be essential to the project.

The research areas include but are not limited to Technology Development, Disease Applications and Basic Biology.

  1. Technology Development. To drive the development of technology for molecular characterization of cancer through collaborative research among the participating institutions of the Starr Cancer Consortium.
  2.  Disease Applications. To apply new molecular technologies in collaborative projects directed at diverse cancers, in the process gaining a deeper understanding of the molecular basis of these cancers and defining new paradigms for cancer research, diagnosis and treatment.
  3. Basic Biology. To accelerate collaborative research of the basic biological mechanisms underlying the development of cancers.  The focus must be on critical issues in cancer.

Funds Available

The Starr Foundation renewal gift for research awards through this RFA mechanism is $8M per year for 5 years. Starr Cancer Consortium (SCC) awards are intended as seed grants to provide data for proposals to other entities. SCC funds should be considered as starter money for ambitious, novel projects, such that after 1 or 2 years of work they will be poised to get funding from other sources. The total funding for this RFA will be determined by the scientific quality of the proposals, and their fit with the RFA key criteria. A 20% indirect cost allocation will be allowed from the allocated funds.

Applicants may request a project period of 1 or 2 years. Competing project renewals for one additional year of funding will be considered, but it is expected that the majority of Starr Cancer Consortium funding will be directed towards supporting new projects. Only exceptional competing project renewals will be funded.

Applications at one funding level will be considered: $100,000-$500,000 per year in direct costs. Intended to support catalytic projects exploring new areas or approaches, or undertaking pilot studies.

Key Criteria

  • Innovative research. Truly novel approaches to significant challenges in cancer research.
  • Collaborative. Meaningful and synergistic collaboration between investigators from at least two institutions who are critical to achieving project aims.  Each collaborating laboratory must be essential to the project.
  • Transforming science. Potential for transforming impact on the understanding of cancer, and ultimately diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of cancer.
  • Scientific excellence. Scientific merit as determined by peer review.
  • Application to cancer. All proposals must have clearly-defined application to cancer.


The PI and Co-PI(s) must have a primary appointment with one of the five participating institutions. Proposals must involve collaboration between investigators from at least two of the five participating institutions. Junior faculty investigators are encouraged to apply. Proposed projects may involve further collaborations with investigators at institutions outside the Starr Cancer Consortium, but Starr funding is restricted to those activities occurring within the participating institutions. PIs who received awards in previous grant competitions are eligible to submit applications to this competition, but their proposals must be very different from the funded research.

Participation Limitation 

Investigators can serve as the PI on only one application and can participate in a maximum of two applications.  The options are:

  • One application as PI, or
  • One application as PI and one application as Co-PI, or
  • Two applications as Co-PI

Data & Resource Sharing

The Starr Cancer Consortium is strongly committed to the public sharing of reagents and data generated through SCC funded research. The SCC requires compliance with NIH policy and rules on reagent and data sharing, including the Genomic Data Sharing Policy. Investigators are expected to include their plans for following data sharing guidelines in Section 13 of the SCC application: Data and Resource Sharing Plan.

Application Format

Applicants should submit a letter of intent (LOI) prior to submission of proposals. LOIs should be sent as Word or pdf documents to

Letter of Intent

LOI must include:

  • Project Title
  • PI Name, Rank, Affiliation and Contact Information
  • Co-PI(s) Name, Rank, Affiliation and Contact Information
  • Collaborator(s) Name and Affiliation
  • Indicate if this is a New Application, a Revised Application, or a Renewal Application
  • Brief statement of Topic and Scope (not required for competing project renewal applications)
  • Be sure to specify the PI and include position title for PI and Co-PIs in the LOI.


Applicants must use the Starr Cancer Consortium application templates.

The application template for new and revised applications includes:

  • Project Title
  • Name and Institution of PI, Co-PI(s) and Collaborator(s)
  • Abstract (Up to 250 words)
  • Rationale & Significance 
  • Specific Aims (Up to 250 words). The content and number of specific aims should be realistic for the time period of the proposal. There is no requirement for a specific number of aims - e.g. a single lucid and innovative aim could be sufficient.
  • For Revised Applications - a response to the reviewers' comments and a description of what has been changed (Up to 300 words). The revised version should directly address the reviewers' critiques and substantive changes may be required in some cases. 
  • Project Description (Up to 3000 words, up to 5 figures or tables)
  • Statement of How the Proposed Research is Transformative (Up to 250 words)
  • Collaboration Description (Up to 500 words). If an investigator's role is to provide a unique resource, include a statement explaining how this is a unique resources that can only be provided by this individual. 
  • Timetable and Milestones
    • For applications with a clinical trial as a component - provide information on the status of IRB approval
  • Statement of What Can Be Accomplished (Up to 250 words)
  • References
  • Budget: Modular budget ($50K increments up to $500K annual direct costs) 
  • Budget Justification
  • Biographical Sketches of Investigators and Key Collaborators
  • Other Support for PI and Co-PI(s)
  • Data and Resource Sharing Plan (Up to 500 words). Include a brief description of how final research data and new technologies and resources developed will be shared.  Include a plan for following data sharing guidelines.
  • Letters of Collaboration with indication of specific commitments
  • Only for investigators participating in two applications - a statement explaining and justifying participation in two applications (Up to 250 words)
  • Certification of Proposal/Conflict of Interest

The application template for competing project renewals includes:

  • Project Title
  • Name and Institution of PI, Co-PI(s) and Collaborator(s)
  • Abstract, Rationale & Significance, Specific Aims from the original application
  • Progress Report and Justification (Up to 1000 words)
  • Project Description for Renewal Year (Up to 2000 words)
  • Collaboration Description (Up to 500 words)
  • References
  • Budget for Renewal Year
  • Budget Justification
  • Biographical Sketches of Investigators and Key Collaborators
  • Other Support for PI and Co-PI(s)
  • Only for investigators participating in two applications - a statement explaining and justifying participation in two applications (Up to 250 words)

Appendices are not allowed.

Applicants should contact the Sponsored Programs Office at their institutions (see below) prior to submitting an application. This will facilitate the post-award approval process for those applications selected for funding.
Institution   Contact  E-mail
Broad Institute: Kathryn Link
Cold Spring Harbor
Walter Goldschmidts
Memorial Sloan Kettering
Cancer Center:
Jason St. Germain
The Rockefeller University: Collette Ryder
Weill Cornell Medicine: Aleta Gunsul

Review Mechanism

Applications will be reviewed by a Scientific Review Board (SRB) made up of peers from institutions not participating in the Starr Cancer Consortium. New and revised applications will be scored with respect to the Key Criteria described above. Competing project renewals will be scored with respect to progress and justification. The SRB will provide recommendations to the Starr Cancer Consortium Executive Committee. The Executive Committee will make all final funding decisions. There will be one deadline for application to this RFA.

Award Administration

Written reviews and funding decisions will be provided to applicants. For each funded proposal, a Research Agreement will be executed by the Starr Cancer Consortium institutions participating in the project, and each institution will ensure regulatory compliance prior to commencement of funding.

Reporting Requirements

  • All projects are required to:
    • Provide a written scientific progress report for year 1; disbursement of year 2 funds is contingent on review of the progress report.
    • Present at the annual SCC retreat. 
    • Each project's PI and Co-PI(s) are required to attend and present at the annual Starr Cancer Consortium retreat.

Further Information

Any questions concerning this RFA should be addressed to:

Sylvie Le Blancq, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Starr Cancer Consortium
Tel: 646 888 3773