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Weekly Digest | Aug. 20, 2020


TiMe Cohort Photo Collage

Cancer Center at Illinois Welcomes New Cohort of Tissue Microenvironment Program Graduate Students

The Cancer Center at Illinois’ Tissue Microenvironment (TiMe) Graduate Program kicks off its 2020 – 2021 academic year with nine new trainees dedicated to advancing biomedical science and healthcare. 

“With every new cohort of TiMe trainees comes the opportunity to explore diverse ideas, build new relationships, and closely analyze complex biological processes, ultimately strengthening cancer research at Illinois,” said Rex Gaskins, the CCIL’s Associate Director for Education. 

Read the full announcement. 

 Matthew Boudreau

CCIL Student Receives Prestigious NCI F99/K00 Award

Matthew Boudreau, Illinois Chemistry PhD candidate in CCIL Deputy Director Paul Hergenrother’s lab, recently received the Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition (F99/K00) Award from the National Cancer Institute. Boudreau's research focuses on ErSO, a small molecule that treats hormone-positive cancers and metastasis to the brain, which can occur in late-stage patients. This award will provide substantial funding to support Boudreau's research. 

In a recent interview, Boudreau said that cancer research "is the kind of thing that gets you up in the morning. If we can make an impact on such a large patient population, we should do it.” A full CCIL article featuring Boudreau’s breast cancer research will release in October.


Rashid Bashir 

CCIL Member Publishes Paper on Training Neural Circuits for Improved Response

Rashid Bashir, Dean of the Grainger College of Engineering, has found that the connectivity, communication, and network stability of young neural cells can be improved using timed light pulses.

“As we advance the field of building machines with living cells, being able to stimulate and program neuronal cells and networks with light early in their development could be an important tool in our engineering repository. Furthermore, this work could have implications for developmental biology, regenerative medicine and brain research," Bashir said.

Learn more about Bashir’s study.

 cancer hasn't slowed down and neither have we

Summer 2020 Pathways: COVID Edition

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cancer Center at Illinois continues to drive research for novel treatments and developing better solutions for patients.

"Our cancer research advances, clinical relationships are being forged, members continue to publish transformative and exciting work, our community outreach connections grow, students continue to work their magic, and new leadership appointments guide our research and educational programming. The work from our colleagues in this issue highlights exciting new opportunities," said CCIL Director Rohit Bhargava.

Summer 2020 Pathways: COVID Edition is now available to read & download.

Upcoming Deadlines & Events



Cancer Center at Illinois members – mark your calendars for the Cancer Center at Illinois Annual Retreat on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.

Additional details will follow regarding the program agenda and how to register for this virtual event.


Cancer Grand Challenges

Online | 9:30 a.m. | Aug. 27, 2020

The National Cancer Institute and Cancer Research UK have launched a partnership, Cancer Grand Challenges. Cancer researchers are invited to attend this virtual event to learn more about the partnership's goals to facilitate global collaboration and innovation to take on some of the toughest challenges that are blocking progress against cancer. 

Register for this free webinar. 


Metastatic Breast Cancer Research Conference

Online | Sept. 10 - 11, 2020

Cancer Center at Illinois members and students are encouraged to attend this free conference hosted by Huntsman Cancer Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, and Theresa's Research Foundation. Participants from around the world will gather electronically to discuss ongoing research, showcase new ideas from young scientists, and bring together advocates who are involved with metastatic breast cancer patients. Theresa's Research Foundation will host an Advocate Research Collaboration Day on September 9th. The morning session will focus on researchers and advocates working together. The afternoon session will focus on clinical trials. 

Register to attend.


Personalized Nutrition Initiative - Take Their Campus Input Survey!

The Personalized Nutrition Initiative was recently established to coordinate transdisciplinary research on innovative approaches to collect, analyze, and integrate data on factors underlying inter-individual differences in dietary responses. The Initiative is seeking input on cross-campus research capacity and faculty interest in participating in future activities. 

Please complete the survey by August 28.

External Funding Opportunities

Notice of Special Interest: Availability of Urgent Competitive Revision and Administrative Supplements on Coronavirus Disease 2019
The National Cancer Institute is issuing this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) to highlight the urgent need for research on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the effects of its causative agent, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), on cancer, and vice versa.
Deadlines and due dates vary. Read the full NOSI.  

*NEW* The Johnson & Johnson Scholars Award Program
The Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D Scholars Award is a $150,000 award to support women pursuing research in STEM2D (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing & Design). WiSTEM2D Scholars Award aims to fuel the development of female STEM2D leaders and feed the STEM2D talent pipeline by awarding and sponsoring women at critical points in their research careers.
University pre-proposal deadline: Aug. 31, 2020; Proposals due Oct. 14, 2020

*NEW* Addressing Racial Disparities in Cancer Care Competitive Grant Program
Together, the American Cancer Society and Pfizer Global Medical Grants have issued a Request for Proposals for the Addressing Racial Disparities in Cancer Care Competitive Grant Program. Through the program, grants will be awarded in support of quality improvement projects with the potential to reduce systemic barriers and address disparities in the delivery of cancer care impacting outcomes for Black men and women facing cancer. Grants of up to $400,000 (inclusive of both direct and indirect costs) over two years will be awarded. The total available budget related to this RFP is approximately $2 million.
Proposals due Sept. 10, 2020

*NEW* Institutional Challenge Grants
The William T. Grant Foundation's Institutional Challenge Grant encourages university-based research institutes, schools, and centers to build sustained research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations in order to reduce inequality in youth outcomes. Awards are for up to $650,000. 
Proposals due Sept. 10, 2020

NSF Research Traineeship
This program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that explore ways for graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers.
Pre-proposal deadline: Sept. 17, 2020; Proposals due Feb. 6, 2021

CRI Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
The Cancer Research Institute's Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports qualified young scientists at leading universities and research centers around the world who wish to receive training in fundamental immunology or cancer immunology. Funding is for $50,000 - $60,000 annually for three years.
Applications due Oct. 1, 2020

Major Research Instrumentation Program
This National Sciences Foundation program serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation for research and research training in our Nation's institutions of higher education and not-for-profit scientific/engineering research organizations. Applicants may request up to $4M in proposal funding. 
Pre-proposal deadline: Oct. 1, 2020; Proposals due Jan. 1, 2021 

Partnerships for Innovation
The PFI program offers researchers from all disciplines of science and engineering funded by NSF the opportunity to perform translational research and technology development, catalyze partnerships and accelerate the transition of discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace for societal benefit. Award amounts range from $50,000 to $1M+. 
Pre-proposal deadline: Oct. 8, 2020; Proposals due Jan. 13, 2021

*NEW* Grants for Gastric and Esophageal Cancer Research
The DeGregorio Family Foundation seeks to promote and facilitate collaborative research on the pathogenesis, early diagnosis, and treatment of upper gastrointestinal malignancies. These grants fund up to $250,000 over 2 years from 2021 - 2023.
Proposals due Nov. 3, 2020 

*NEW* Cancer Research Institute Technology Impact Award
This award provides seed funding of up to $200,000 to be used over 12 - 24 months to address the gap between technology development and clinical application of cancer immunotherapies.
Letters of intent due Nov. 15, 2020; Proposals due March 15, 2021

American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society has a number of grants available to support cancer research ranging from post-doctoral to institutional level. 
Deadlines and due dates vary. 


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