NCI Research Specialist Award FOA released

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) released an FOA Monday, Nov. 2, inviting grant applications for the Research Specialist Award (R50) in any area of cancer research. This award is designed to support exceptional scientists who are not PIs, providing sufficient autonomy so they are not solely dependent on grants held by principal investigators.

There has been a continued shift in the way research is conducted with an increased reliance on research specialists in labs, cores, and other support facilities. The extramural community has begun to respond to this shift by providing PIs grant support to hire and retain such specialists, but this award is the first to provide an independent funding mechanism for these individuals. Under this mechanism, awardees can move to other research programs or institutions while maintaining funding.

Earlier this year, we reported on the NCI’s plans to offer this award in its effort to stabilize the scientific workforce. With the release of this FOA, questions still remain about potential impact on the way labs do business and how much demand there will be for this funding mechanism.

The award will fund:

  1. Up to 100 percent salary support for the research specialist commensurate with their level of effort on NCI-funded grants for up to five years
  2.  Travel costs not to exceed $5,000 per year

The number of awards is contingent on NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of strong applications. To be eligible for this award, the research specialist must identify a primary sponsor (unit director or equivalent) who is responsible for working with the research specialist on planning and executing the proposed research. In addition, the qualified applicant must:

  • have an advanced degree (e.g. master’s, Ph.D., D.V.M., D.D.S. or M.D.) in an area of biomedical science or engineering
  • have demonstrated cancer research experience and accomplishments
  • show clear evidence of productivity with the goal of continuing to make significant contributions to cancer research relevant to the NCI mission

Letter of Intent is due Jan. 9, 2016; full application is due Feb. 9, 2016.

Read the full announcement here.