Overview & Purpose

Despite five major academic research-intensive medical centers, two NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers and millions of dollars in cancer research funding, Chicago consistently ranks in the upper decile amongst the nation’s worst cancer disparities. An undertapped approach for addressing cancer disparities and advancing cancer health equity is the forging of strong bridges among the institutions that serve underrepresented populations with research intensive, NCI-designated cancer centers.

The Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC) aims to create the cross-institutional infrastructure and cohesive network necessary to catalyze the complementary strengths of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), Northwestern University (NU), and community organizations toward cancer health equity. Through this request for proposals, ChicagoCHEC is committed to funding collaborative projects that aim to advance cancer health equity while providing cancer research, education, and community engagement opportunities for minority and underrepresented students, fellows, scientists, and community members.

Award Levels

  • Partnership Development Incubator Grants for up to $40,000 for 1 year (only direct costs allowed)
  • Proposal Development Incubator Grants for up to $40,000 for 1 year (only direct costs allowed)
  • Pilot Projects Catalyst Grants for up to $120,000 per year for two years (only direct costs allowed)

Key Dates

September 29, 2016
Request for proposals posted. Download PDF. Download templates & review FAQs.

October – November 2016
Assembly of grant teams and grant preparation

December 15, 2016
Deadline for pre-proposal consultation meeting with ChicagoCHEC to discuss intent

January, 16 2017  January, 20 2017
Deadline for Receipt of Proposals

February – March 2017
Grant Review

April 4, 2017    Mid-June 2017
Project teams notified of funding recommendations

May 2, 2017    July 2017
Grants initiated


Awards will support collaborative partnership development, proposal development, and pilot projects for innovative research toward cancer health equity spanning the disciplines of basic, clinical, translational, prevention, control, behavioral, population, and/or community engagement research. Additionally, support will be given to projects focused on community outreach, cancer education, and dissemination of evidenced-based programs. All proposed partnership development, proposal development, and pilot projects must illustrate collaboration by having at least one UIC, NEIU and NU scientist and community partner(s) and must focus on any aspect of cancer disparities. Proposed research projects must have high potential for leading to external funding through the NIH K-series, R03, R21, R01 mechanisms or foundation support. Proposed projects should also provide training opportunities for minority and/or underrepresented minority students and/or fellows.

Eligible activities

Partnership Development Incubator Grant: Activities include, but are not limited to: relationship building, collaborative interactions, needs assessments, and other community-academic partnership development activities to prepare a team toward the proposal development stage of preparing a ChicagoCHEC Catalyst Grant research proposal.

Proposal development Incubator Grant: Activities include, but are not limited to: collaborative interactions, writing, grantsmanship trainings, analysis of preliminary data, and other activities toward the development of a community-engaged ChicagoCHEC Catalyst Grant research proposal.

Pilot Project Catalyst Grant: Joint pilot research project specifically addressing area(s) of cancer disparity in health disparity populations. Projects can be in any discipline spanning basic, clinical, translational, prevention, control, behavioral, population, and/or community engagement research, but must have a cancer health equity lens.

For aid in determining which mechanism best suits your research project/team, please use this chart.

Eligible applicants & individuals

Faculty from UIC, NEIU, and NU are eligible to receive funding. However, each proposal requires collaboration from one or more investigators at each of the three institutions – UIC, NEIU, and NU. All three funding mechanisms require that projects also involve a partner organization that is a community-based organization or other type of partner, including but not limited to federal or local government agencies, school districts, and healthcare providers. The individual or representative of the partner organization must be named as a Co-Principal Investigator. Preference will be given to projects that include an early-stage investigator (Assistant Professor level/has never held R01 level funding) from any of the three institutions. Early-stage investigators who have previously received or who are current recipients of funding from ChicagoCHEC are eligible to apply. Interested faculty who do not have an existing partnership with a NEIU, UIC or NU faculty member or community partner can receive assistance from ChicagoCHEC in finding a collaborator. Generally speaking, graduate/doctoral students, fellows and research staff are eligible to apply with mentor backing, however we recommend contacting [email protected] to verify eligibility. Adjunct faculty can apply. ChicagoCHEC IAC members, PSC members or PIs cannot apply to the mechanism, however can serve in a mentor role. Inquiries regarding assistance or questions of eligibility should be submitted via e-mail to [email protected].


The ChicagoCHEC Incubator & Catalyst Grant Team will be hosting pre-proposal consultation meetings between November 1 – December 15, 2016 to allow faculty and community partners to present ideas for collaboration and research prior to preparing a proposal. Pre-proposal consultation meetings are intended to help project teams formulate applications that are responsive to the request for proposals, and competitive. At least one pre-proposal consultation meeting is required per project team. Interested faculty who do not have an existing partnership with a UIC, NEIU or NU faculty member or community partner can receive assistance in finding a collaborator. To schedule a pre-proposal consultation meeting, please email [email protected]. Pre-proposal consultation meeting deadline: December 15, 2016.


The application must include all sections outlined below.

Cover Page & Abstract. The cover page should include the title of the project, names, institutions, and contact information of PIs, Co-PIs, all other co-investigators and collaborators. The abstract description of the proposed research project in lay terms (max: 200 words).

Research Proposal. The proposal should describe the research plan and include the following: 1) specific aims; 2) scientific significance and innovation; 3) preliminary studies and partnership development; 4) research design and methods, including a description of critical project activities that will be performed at UIC, NEIU, NU, and community partner site(s); 5) information on how the proposed project will lead to peer-reviewed funding; 6) plans for inclusion of minority and/or underrepresented students/trainees; 7) strategies for developing/maintaining an active collaboration among UIC, NEIU, NU, and community partner investigators; 8) plans for career development and mentorship for less experienced/early-stage investigators/co-leaders; and 9) the added value that the proposed research brings to the ChicagoCHEC U54 Partnership. The above is limited to 5 pages excluding figures, tables and references.

Biosketches. Current NEW FORMAT NIH Biosketches are required for each participating Co-PI, including partner organization(s). Note that biosketches should include all funding sources including seed funding, development awards, etc. Biosketches do not need to be submitted for trainees (master’s level and below) and support staff, just senior/key personnel.

Budget & Budget Justification. UIC, NEIU, NU, and the Partner organization will each complete separate budgets, totaling 4 budgets at time of submission. The Partner organization will be treated as a separate entity and will not need to be established under an institutional subcontract. Each budget should also include a corresponding budget justification clearly stating why each expense is needed to complete the study aims. Please include a brief description of current/pending funding (other support) at the end of the budget justification per site, including the partner organization.

Budget restrictions. A detailed project budget should include the amount requested. No indirect costs will be funded. Salary support (e.g., investigators, technicians, research assistants, coordinators, students, post-doctoral fellows) will be allowed.

Partnership development and proposal development grant funds must be split equally amongst institutions. For example, a partnership development or proposal development grant with UIC, NEIU, NU, and one community partner must allocate 25% of funds to each institution. Pilot projects do not need to split grant funds equally amongst institutions. For pilot projects, funds should be allocated accordingly to best accomplish the project aims.  For questions related to site-specific budgets, please email [email protected]. See FAQ page for site-specific budget templates.

Application Submission. Proposals will be submitted through NITRO Competitions, a software platform for grant submissions. While this is a NU-supported platform, a team member does not need to be a part of the Northwestern University system to access this platform. The Incubator & Catalyst Grant Team will be available for inquiries (contact [email protected]) and will be uploading/disseminating a NITRO upload guide closer to the application submission date. NITRO opens January 1, 2017 and the deadline for the receipt of proposals is January 16, 2017 January 20, 2017 at midnight. An upload guide is available on the FAQ page.


  • IRB approval. If applicable, IRB submission and approval is required after notice of award.
  • Career Development and Mentoring Plan. Per NCI requirements, when a project PI is an early-stage investigator the project must be accompanied by a Career Development and Mentoring Plan. Investigators at the assistant professor level and who have not yet received R01 funding are required to submit a Career Development and Mentoring Plan. Individuals at the associate professor or full professor level should not submit a Career Development and Mentoring Plan. Trainees (master’s level and below) and support staff who will be involved in the proposed projects do not need to submit a Career Development and Mentoring Plan at this time. See template here.
  • Potential for external, peer-reviewed funding. It is the expectation that all projects funded under the ChicagoCHEC Incubator & Catalyst Grant Program have high potential for external, peer-reviewed funding in the future. Please ensure that funding potential beyond ChicagoCHEC is clearly outlined in the research proposal section of your grant. Please visit our FAQ page for more information.


Applications will be reviewed by designated review committees where reviewers will assign a score on the overall application based on the following criteria:

Significance. The project addresses important problems or critical barriers to progress in cancer research or cancer disparities research. The aims of the project advance scientific knowledge, technical capability, and have near-term impact.

Innovation. The application utilizes novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.

Investigator(s). The PIs, collaborators, and other key personnel have the necessary experience and expertise to accomplish the goals of the proposed research project. The investigators have complementary and integrated expertise.

Approach. The overall strategy, methodology, and analyses is well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project.

Career Development. There is a well thought-out and reasonable plan for career development of Early-stage investigator(s). Mentor(s) have been identified and the appropriate mechanisms are in place to achieve career development goals outlined.

Community Engagement. The partner organization(s) and their respective roles and contributions are clearly articulated.

Student Training. There will be significant opportunity for the training of minority and/or URM students and fellows.

Potential to Generate Publishable Data. There is high likelihood that the proposed project orprogram will generate publishable data leading to peer-reviewed publications.

Potential for External Funding. There is high likelihood that the proposed project or program will lead to more competitive grant applications to NIH and other types of foundation funding.

For additional questions, please either visit our FAQ page or email [email protected] Grantees of previous cycles can be found on the ChicagoCHEC website (





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