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Microorganisms and Cancer

Request for Applications


Purpose:  The purpose of this award is to support a multi-disciplinary team of investigators focused on the topic of microorganisms and cancer.  This multi-year funding announcement requires the submission of a NIH/NCI Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) or Program Project grant (P01) mechanisms by 24 months from the time of award.

Background:  The ability of microorganisms to cause cancer is undisputed.  Cancer causing viruses (HPV, EBV, HIV, etc) and bacteria (H. pylori) are well described.  A growing body of evidence suggest that other microorganisms may also cause cancer or influence response to specific therapies.  For example, the bacterial microbiome may be linked to the development of colorectal cancers. The bacterial microbiome may also cause drug resistance to existing cytotoxic or immune therapies.  Previous viral infection may also influence responses to existing immunotherapies. Additionally, microorganisms can be manipulated to serve as therapies for cancer treatment (talimogene laherparepvec as an example). 

Objectives:  The proposed objectives identify several areas of research where multi-disciplinary teams may further our ability to prevent and treat cancer based on a collaborative research approach. Topics appropriate for study include, but are not limited to:

  • Prevention strategies based on increasing utilization of known effective methods.
  • Population or laboratory studies on cancer causation by microorganisms.
  • Population or laboratory studies on the ability of microorganisms to influence response to existing cancer therapies.
  • Preclinical development of new microorganism-based therapies.
  • Clinical trials utilizing microorganisms as prognostic or predictive cancer biomarkers. 

Specific Requirements:

Available Funding:

  • Up to 2 proposals will be funded.
  • Project period is up to 3 years.
  • $600,000 total cost allowed over the project period. After the first year of the award, subsequent years will be funded provided adequate progress is made toward the ultimate goal of obtaining a multi-project grant.
  • The award does not cover indirect costs.
  • No PI salary is allowed.

Application and Review: 


  • Application format should follow NIH PHS 398 format whenever possible.
    • Font size - at least 11 pt. Arial preferred.
    • Proposals should not exceed 8 pages in length and include:
      • Overview of proposal (2 pages) addressing significance, impact, and innovation
      • Brief description (1 to 1.5 pages) of each project (3 projects minimum)
      • Brief description of cores and core leaders supporting the application (1 page total)
      • For P01s: address program integration
      • NIH-formatted Biosketches for the three Principal Investigators and other key personnel (not included in page limit)
      • Budget for 3-year funding period
        • Prepare a detailed composite budget for all requested support categories for the first year, followed by a budget for the entire period of support (3 years). Funding should be requested to support the organizational and research development of projects and cores.
        • Approved budget categories and amount:
          • Up to $200,000/year in direct costs for 1-3 years.
          • Research personnel (e.g. lab technicians, grad students, postdoctoral fellows). No faculty salary allowed.
          • Research supplies
          • MCC shared resource services (e.g. flow cytometry, tissue procurement)
          • Small equipment needed for the research (less than $10,000)
          • Animal costs
          • No indirect costs (internal award)
  • Funds may not be used to pay for the expenses of investigators outside the University of Minnesota, except for travel to the Twin Cities for the purpose of grant planning

Review Process

  • All proposals will be submitted for external review
  • Successful applications will fulfill the award criteria for either a SPORE or P01 – with an eye to submitting a SPORE or P01 application within 24 months from the Chainbreaker Award. By 5pm on June 8, 2018, submit your Proposal, Biosketches, and Budget using the online proposal submission portal:


  • Any full-time faculty member who holds a University of Minnesota appointment as assistant professor, associate professor, or professor, irrespective of degree, school or college, is eligible to be the PI.

Masonic Cancer Center Shared Resources Support Available

  • Masonic Cancer Center Shared Resources – available for free or at subsidized pricing for cancer researchers
    • Biostatistics
    • Cancer Informatics
    • Cancer Genomics
    • Clinical Pharmacology
    • Clinical Trials Office support
    • Comparative Pathology
    • Flow Cytometry
    • Genomic Engineering
    • Irradiator
    • Mass Spectrometry & Analytical Biochemistry
    • Mouse Genetics Laboratory
    • Immune monitoring and biorepository management
    • Access to an cGMP-compliant production facility capable of generating GMP-grade cellular and molecular products
    • Pre-award grant preparation for SPORES and P01s

Key Dates 

Opportunity Announced:                                             March 19, 2018

Applications Due:                                                       June 8, 2018 at 5pm CST

Funding Decisions Announced:                                  by July 13, 2018

Anticipated Funding Start Date:                                 August 1, 2018

Reporting Requirements

Principal investigators of funded projects will be required to provide annual reports that include accounting of all funds expended to date and progress towards milestones. Reports are to be submitted to the Mechanism Lead and the Funding Initiatives Manager. It is expected that all funds will be expended by the last day of the award period, with extensions being considered only in exceptional cases and requiring the approval of the MCC Director.

Academic Health Center (AHC), MCC and Chainbreaker communications staff may reach out to awardees in the process of crafting communications (publications, websites, flyers, etc.) for external audiences.

During a period of up to 7 years following the end of the pilot award, if any grants or publications are obtained as a result of this pilot funding, awardees are required to submit this information to the Grants Program Coordinator (contact information below).

Additional questions:

Please see for additional information.


Contact Masonic Cancer Center Grants Program Coordinator: Susan Fautsch, 612-625-6238,