COE Skills Fellowship for Cancer Biology

The application deadline is April 10 to apply for the University of Illinois Cancer Center Community Outreach and Engagement Skills Fellowship for Cancer Biology.

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) actualizes the commitment at the Cancer Center to engage patient and community stakeholders in laboratory research to eliminate the burden of cancer comprehensively and effectively.

The fellowship provides resources to encourage Cancer Center Cancer Biology program members and trainees to learn skills to share results and solicit input from community and patient advocates.

Each application must include at least one full member from the Cancer Biology program and one trainee (K-12, undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral). The award is $30,000 across two years.

The Cancer Center’s Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE) team will provide quarterly skills training and offer logistic support for community engagement events.

Go here to apply and to download the Request for Applications (RFA). The RFA also is below.

2023 Community Outreach and Engagement Skills Fellowships for Cancer Biology:
Engaging Bench and Community ($30,000 Across Two Years)

Application Deadline: April 10, 2023
Project Duration: June, 2023-May 31, 2025

To eliminate the burden of cancer comprehensively and effectively, we must engage patient and community
stakeholders in laboratory research. This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) actualizes this
commitment at the University of Illinois Cancer Center by providing resources to encourage Cancer Biology
(CB) full members and trainees to learn skills to share results and solicit input from community and patient
advocates. These skills will support future externally funded applications, given the increasing representation
of consumer, patient, and community reviewers in cancer biology and translational research.

Key takeaways:
• Each application must include, at the least, 1 full member from the University of Illinois Cancer
Center’s Cancer Biology program and 1 trainee (K-12, undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral).
• CB Budgets will include expenses related to cancer biology/scientific costs and trainee support.
• Awarded applications will be paired with community partners who have successfully competed for a
partnering mechanism, Cancer Biology Skills Fellowship for Community Partners, and will have
separate budgets for their salary/wages and community events wherein communities will learn and
provide feedback regarding awarded CB research.
• Awarded applications will work closely with the University of Illinois Cancer Center’s
Community Engagement & Health Equity (CEHE) team, who will provide quarterly skills training and
offer logistic support for awardees’ community engagement events.
• Applications can include ancillary projects that build from funded and ongoing research.
• Applications are brief – 1-page narrative, biosketches, and budget justification for cancer
biology/scientific costs and trainee support.

The most responsive applications will describe a specific CB project that is pragmatically feasible to complete
within 1.5 years, allowing for 6 months of study set-up and community dissemination.

  1. Describe alignment with the aims of the CB program. Describe how your project relates to the CB
    program-specific aims, including:
    • How cancer metabolism and signaling pathways act individually and are integrated to drive cancer
    development and progression, identifying new vulnerabilities of cancer.
    • Understand how signaling is relayed to transcriptional control through direct and epigenetic
    mechanisms, and how genome integrity is compromised, to drive the cancer phenotype of cancer
    • Identify mechanisms by which cancer cells interact with the local extracellular matrix and stromal
    cells, and inflammatory and vascular systems to allow for invasion and metastasis.
  2. Explain how the proposal aligns with catchment needs. Clarify how your project will have
    implications for improving our understanding of one or more priority cancers among our priority
    populations. For more information on the catchment area, please e-mail Margaret Wright, PhD, and visit
    • Priority cancers: lung, prostate, breast, colorectal, pancreas, uterus, liver, stomach and cervix.
    Cancer biology research can have major implications for various cancer sites. For this proposal,
    applicants should highlight how their work could apply to the priority cancers, acknowledging the
    impact of their work may also be important for other cancer sites.
    • Priority populations: African Americans and Latino Americans. Cancer biology research, including
    animal models and research on human samples, can have major implications for various
    communities. For this proposal, applicants may wish to highlight how their work addresses
    biological factors and pathways that may be particularly relevant for cancer outcomes among our
    priority populations (e.g., accelerated tumor progression). Proof-of-concept and other research that,
    in the long-term, may be helpful for understanding and addressing disease progression among
    these communities is welcome.
  3. Highlight the utility of gaining skills in community outreach and engagement, especially for
    gaining feedback for your specific project. Applicants should highlight
    a. how skill development and community input will benefit future research, based on the results
    from the proposed project, including future external grant applications.
    b. how skill development will enhance the CB investigator’s and trainees’ professional careers as
    cancer biologists.

Preference will be given to:
• Projects that showcase robust long-term plans to engage community stakeholders (e.g., co-authors on
future manuscripts, co-investigators, or consultants for future grants).
• Projects that support trainees at UIC, especially residents from the catchment area and/or who come
from underrepresented communities.
• Projects that foster intra- or inter-programmatic collaboration.

• The PI should be a full member of the Cancer Biology program at the University of Illinois Cancer
• Trainee must be willing to become a trainee member of the University of Illinois Cancer Center
• The team should not include a University of Illinois Cancer Center Associate Director, Program Lead, or
COE Liaison across the Research Programs or larger Cancer Center.

Ranking will be by peer review, based on novelty and scientific merit. A major criterion will be the perceived
probability that the pilot project will lead to the submission of a fundable, community-driven, research grant
application to NIH or another similar major funding organization. An ideal pilot project will be designed to
generate preliminary data needed before submitting a full grant application to a nationally peer
reviewed sponsor. Other factors considered in the review will be (1) potential for sustained, active
collaboration with community and/or patient stakeholders; and, (2) value of the project for the strategic
priorities of UICC, COE, and participatory programs.
*All applicants will receive a summary of reviewers’ comments at the end of the review process, regardless of
whether they receive funding.
Funding Limits – A total of $30,000 will be awarded, with $20,000 being awarded during year 1 and the
subsequent $10,000 being awarded in year 2, depending on study progress.
Allowable expenses include the following:
• Research supplies
• UICC and RRC shared resource expenses
• Project and trainee staff salaries (including fringe benefits)
• Stipends (including fringe benefits where applicable)
• Software (prior approval required)
• Rental of space for patient/community stakeholder events (prior approval required)
Non-Allowable expenses include the following:
• Equipment (including computers)
• Equipment maintenance and service contracts
• Secretarial/administrative salaries
• Textbooks/course books and periodicals
• Subscriptions to periodicals
• Membership dues
• Rental of office or laboratory space for purposes other than engagement
• Recruiting and relocation expenses
• Construction, renovation, or maintenance of buildings/laboratories
• Travel

Submission Process and Guidelines
The full application should include a detailed description of your proposed project in a single PDF file, following
the correct order and format listed below. All application components should include 0.5” margins and no
smaller than Arial 11 point font.

  1. Narrative (1 page, not counting references)
    a. Name(s) and title(s) of investigators
    b. Project title
    c. Specific Aims of Project and how they align with the aims of the Cancer Biology program and
    catchment needs.
    d. Description of how proposal aligns with priority cancers and populations within the catchment
    e. Description of the utility of skills in community outreach and engagement for future projects and
    the CB investigator’s professional career.
    f. Expected outcomes (e.g., manuscripts, grants), which will be submitted within 2 years of
  2. Biosketches for key personnel (PI, Co-Is, etc.).
  3. Budget justification
    For more information, please contact Yamile Molina, PhD, at [email protected].

Post Award Guidelines
• Once awarded, the Cancer Center finance team will work with the identified department’s post-award
contact for award disbursement schedule. The Cancer Center will expect the return of any un-utilized
• The study team will meet regularly with the Community Engagement & Health Equity (CEHE) Office for
trainings and brainstorming sessions regarding scientific communication, community outreach and
engagement, and linkages of lab biology to catchment priorities and needs.
• The study team will participate as scientific experts in community events, wherein they will discuss
emerging lab findings to lay audiences.
• The study team will provide brief updates about their project and professional development every 6
months, with strong encouragement to submit projects to Cancer Center meetings and symposia.
• Acknowledgement. Products and publications as a product of this program should include an
acknowledgment of Community Outreach and Engagement at the University of Illinois Cancer Center.
Products and publications include: research and technical papers, preprints, conference and academic
presentations, theses and dissertations, journals and books, oral histories, video and audio recordings
of speeches and events, photographs, and key project documents.


  1. Fox, G., Fergusson, D.A., Daham, Z., Youssef, M., Foster, M., Poole, E., Sharif, A., Richards, D.P., Hendrick, K.,
    Mendelson, A.A. and Macala, K.F.,Monfaredi, Z., Montroy, J., Fiest, K.M., Presseau, J., & Lalu, M.M. 2021.
    Patient engagement in preclinical laboratory research: A scoping review. EBioMedicine, 70, p.103484.
  2. Moore, L., Eggleton, P., Smerdon, G., Newcombe, J., Holley, J.E., Gutowski, N.J., & Smallwood, M., 2020.
    Engagement of people with multiple sclerosis to enhance research into the physiological effect of hyperbaric
    oxygen therapy. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, 43, p.102084.
  3. Guerrini, C.J. and Contreras, J.L., 2020. Credit for and Control of Research Outputs in Genomic Citizen
    Science. Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, 21, pp.465-489.
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