Cancer Center at Illinois Seed Grant Program 2021-2022


  • Proposal Due Date June 2, 2022
  • Award Notification June 28, 2022
  • Earliest Start Date July 1, 2022


The Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL) is soliciting interdisciplinary team research proposals to initiate new collaborations and enhance existing collaborations among faculty. The aims of this seed grant program are to enable faculty teams to:

  1. Develop novel cancer-focused research ideas that require the involvement of multiple cancer investigators from different disciplines.
  2. Formulate either a hypothesis-driven or technology-focused research project that relates to one or ideally both of the CCIL programs and their accompanying themes.
  3. Collect preliminary data or other relevant information to support a feasible approach for grant proposals to an NCI recognized funding agency.
  4. Garner external funding for multi-investigator, program project level research projects using CCIL support as a catalyst.

The program will not provide interim or incremental support for existing research programs or projects that do not represent a significant opportunity for future externally funded research. Projects should not anticipate additional internal funding after the seed funds are exhausted. We also encourage the use of CCIL Shared Resources as part of the project

The CCIL anticipates funding up to ten (10) interdisciplinary research proposals during this cycle, based on the merit of the proposed projects, and their applicability to the goals of the CCIL. This type of funding opportunity may be offered across multiple and/or targeted RFP’s per year.
Proposals that seek to span experimental/computation efforts or that span programs are of particular interest. Other areas associated with cancer research will be considered.


Each research team may submit proposals for up to $200,000 for up to a 2-year period. Funds will be disbursed as follows: up to $75,000 in funding for Year 1 and up to $125,000 in support for Year 2. Year 2 funding is dependent on milestones accomplished in Year 1.

Funding provided by the CCIL to launch research projects is expected to be catalytic. Projects will be expected to achieve milestones and to actively seek significant external support in the form of a multi-PI research proposal to NIH, NSF, DOD, or other federal agency, industry, or foundation. Progress reports will be required at key time points, which may affect continual funding.

Year 2 funds will be released only upon the successful completion of the stated goals and metrics outlined in Year 1 which must include a collaborative proposal submission that is at least at the R01 level. A National Cancer Institute (NCI) submission is HIGHLY preferred. The Cancer Center at Illinois must be listed as an Institute of record for the submission.

Project costs may include UIUC supplies, staff time, and research facility use fees. Funds sent external from the university to other institutions must receive prior approval from the CCIL. Funds cannot be used for any part of tenure track faculty salaries.

Full program details can be found here.



Proposals must reflect substantive involvement of multiple investigators from different scientific disciplines and/or academic departments.

Projects should demonstrate substantive collaboration between CCIL members and must specifically address the CCIL program strategic themes (see program descriptions). Proposals should include a description of the innovative nature of the research and the team’s capabilities, where the contribution of each collaborator’s expertise is evident. At least two of the team members must be current CCIL members.

Although not limited to these topics, the CCIL is particularly interested in proposals that:

  • Seek to identify novel biological targets for anticancer therapy.
  • Seek to identify and/or develop new anticancer compounds.
  • Develop and use improved artificial intelligence and machine/deep learning algorithms for identifying patterns in image-based or numerical-based data for diagnostics.
  • Develop multi-modal, multi-scale imaging approaches (including hardware, algorithms, modeling, and simulations) that connect molecular- and cellular-scale processes in carcinogenesis with clinical tumor-, tissue-, and body-scale imaging to be used for cancer screening, diagnosis, and monitoring.
  • Develop robust and reliable collection, isolation, purification, and characterization processes for extracellular vesicles (including bioassays and analysis methods to determine vesicle content).
  • Utilize large genomic or proteomic data sets to derive novel biomarker targets for cancer diagnostics.
  • Involve the conception and development of novel biochemistry approaches for ultra-selective recognition of biomarker molecules, especially approaches that do not require enzymatic amplification.
  • Develop novel engineered models of cancer.
  • Advance the work of one of CCIL’s current Working Group: (1) Cancer and Microbes, (2) Environmental Effects on Cancer, (3) Genomic Diagnostics, (4) Pets to People, (5) Photoacoustics, (6) Robotics and Interoperative Assessments, and (7) Tumor Microenvironment for example.

Each project will identify a lead principal investigator (PI) who assumes organizational leadership for the project. A faculty member may only be PI on one submitted project. However, there is no limit to being a co-investigator on other projects. Applicants are strongly encouraged to include faculty at the Assistant Professor rank on their teams. Priority will be given to projects for which PIs are existing CCIL members. Preference will be given to investigators who have not previously received substantial CCIL research support funding.

Principal Investigator Requirements


  • The PI must be a Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor
  • The PI and his/her unit are fully responsible for any overages if the funding request is calculated incorrectly
  • The PI is responsible for consulting with the relevant offices and meeting all requirements


Funded projects should be prepared to provide monthly progress update meetings to the CCIL leadership/administration. Two written reports are required: (1) Year 1 Progress Report and (2) Final Project Report. Each should highlight the collaborative nature of the research, as well as address progress made toward the specific goals and metrics. Each project PI is required to present at the CCIL Annual Retreat (on the progress of Phase 1 and Final Project).

To the best of the PI's knowledge, all the information provided in the application is correct.