2017 DF/HCC Nodal Award Program - Special "Shark Tank" Edition

August 08, 2017

Request for Collaborative Pilot Projects
DF/HCC Nodal Award Program
2017 Special “Shark Tank” Edition

Award amount: $75,000 per year for up to two years; typical amount – awards may vary

Posted date: August 3, 2017

Deadline for submission of one-page project concept sheet: August 31, 2017

Mandatory presentations to “Shark Tank” reviewers: September 28, 2017

Anticipated award date: October 1, 2017

Related Files:

A key goal of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) is to encourage and support the development of scientific collaborations among Center members that promote breakthrough basic science, new translational cancer research, as well as research that addresses issues relevant to the unequal burden of cancer and cancer outcomes in diverse populations, particularly in those who reside in Massachusetts. 

To advance this goal, the DF/HCC periodically solicits proposals for pilot projects that are designed to enhance or create new inter-programmatic “nodal point” interactions between members in clinical-based and discipline-based DF/HCC Research Programs (http://www.dfhcc.harvard.edu/research/research-programs/). Collaborations between discipline-based programs between members of a Basic science program (Cancer Cell Biology, Cancer Genetics, or Cancer Immunology programs) and members of a Population science program (Cancer Care Delivery Research, Cancer Epidemiology, Cancer Risk and Disparities, or Cancer Data Sciences) are also encouraged. 

This year we are eliminating formal written proposals. Instead, we are asking teams to submit a 1-page idea for a collaborative pilot project. From these submissions, teams will be selected to pitch their idea, in person, to a panel of DF/HCC reviewers (like on the Shark Tank television show: http://abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank/about-the-show). Fifteen minutes will be allotted for each presentation, and the DF/HCC “shark tank” reviewers will be allowed 15 minutes to ask questions (see attached sheet for more information). You will be notified if your team is selected for in-person review before September 11, 2017. If selected, your team must be able to present on the afternoon of September 28, 2017. Do not apply if you are not able to participate on this day.

It is anticipated that up to four pilot projects will be awarded. Typical projects will be awarded at $75,000 (direct costs) per year for up to two years; full overhead will be awarded. However, larger or smaller awards may be allocated, at the discretion of the “shark tank” reviewers, based on the pool of proposed projects and the negotiations between the reviewers and the applicants. DF/HCC has a particular interest in proposals aimed at understanding and devising solutions to relieve disparities in cancer burden due to racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic factors. Research projects that address issues relevant to the unequal burden of cancer and cancer outcomes in diverse populations, particularly in those who reside in Massachusetts, are encouraged. The anticipated award date is October 1, 2017. Projects must be ready to commence immediately after receipt of award. 

This opportunity is open only to early-stage investigators at the rank of Instructor or Assistant Professor. Applicants must be DF/HCC members. Projects must propose a new collaboration spanning two of the clinical, basic science and population science areas. Collaborations involving investigators from different institutions are preferred.

Please visit the DF/HCC website to learn more about the Research Programs and membership: www.dfhcc.harvard.edu.


  • Project Coversheet (download here). Please list the title of project and the name and DF/HCC programmatic affiliation of each collaborator. Please indicate if the proposal is a disparities-focused project.
  • Project Description: The concept for the project should be briefly presented in no more than one page. Additional material will not be accepted.
  • Biosketches: NIH Biosketch for each collaborator.

Submission Due Date: Please submit a single PDF containing each concept sheet submission item (listed above) on or before August 31, 2017

Submit to: Deborah Goff (Email: deborah_goff@dfci.harvard.edu
On behalf of David Pellman, MD and Peter Howley, MD

Contact regarding questions: Deborah Goff, (617) 632-4044, deborah_goff@dfci.harvard.edu

Submissions will be reviewed by designated senior members of DF/HCC, and meritorious concepts will be recommended for oral presentations. The DF/HCC Executive Committee will provide final approval for funding. Projects will be awarded on the basis of the following review criteria, as ascertained through the interaction with reviewers during the oral presentation:

  • Scientific excellence and merit. Proposals should address important problems or critical barriers to progress in the field. The aims should advance scientific knowledge, technical capability and/or clinical practice. Proposals need not have extensive preliminary data.
  • Innovation. Applications should challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by using novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions. High risk/high reward proposals are favored.
  • Translation. Projects that have the opportunity to stimulate direct application to cancer detection, treatment or prevention are encouraged.
  • Strength of inter-programmatic nodal collaboration. Projects should foster trans-disciplinary research and collaboration across Basic, Population, and/or Clinical Science research programs. Proposals must involve the creation of new inter-programmatic “nodal point” interactions. 
  • Inter-institutional links. Proposals that stimulate inter-institutional research will be favored in decisions between equally ranked applications.
  • Potential to gain independent funding. Projects should have the potential to lead to future independent external funding from the NCI or other cancer research foundations. 

A progress report is required after the first year of funding. Funding for the second year is contingent upon first-year progress. Grantees may be required to present their project and relevant finding at DF/HCC meetings. 

A final report, including a summary of expenditures, is due at the end of the two-year project period. Should an awardee leave DF/HCC, the remainder of the award will be forfeited (i.e., funds may not be transferred to a non-DF/HCC institution).