DF/HCC Limited Opportunity: NCI Early-stage Surgeon Scientist Program (ESSP)

August 31, 2023

A National Cancer Institute (NCI) Notice of Special Interest (click here: NOSI) announces a funding opportunity to support early-stage surgeon scientists conducting cancer-related research, with the goal to accelerate them into an independent surgeon scientist career. The NCI will support exceptional surgeon scientists who have not received prior substantial NIH funding to be trained together in the NCI Early-stage Surgeon Scientist Program (ESSP). DF/HCC may submit one application as an administrative supplement to the P30 Cancer Center Support Grant to nominate a candidate for this award. Visit the NCI ESSP web page for more information.

Pre-Application Webinar

NCI will host a pre-application webinar for this NOSI on September 11, 2023. NCI staff will provide a brief overview of the program for potential applicants and answer questions pertinent to preparing applications. To register to attend the webinar and to get more relevant information, visit the NCI ESSP web page.


NOTE: Although the NOSI states that candidates must be within the first three years of their tenure-track appointment, last year NCI decided to accept candidates who are not on tenure-track, as long as they are within the first three years of their clinical appointment, have 50% time to devote to research, and intend to become surgeon-scientists who pursue NIH independent funding in the future.

  • U.S.-licensed surgeon scientist with active surgical duties at a DF/HCC institution.
  • Must be within the first 1-3 years of tenure-track academic appointment.
  • Must conduct research on cancer-related basic or translational science.
  • Must commit at least 6 person-months (50% full-time professional effort) to the award.
  • Current and/or former PDs/PIs on any NIH awards are not eligible candidates, except:
    • PD/PIs of NIH Fellowships, PD/PIs of Loan Repayment Program (LRP) awards, and individuals appointed to institutional T programs (T32).


DF/HCC may nominate one candidate for this opportunity, and as such requires an internal vetting process to determine which application to put forward, with the following key dates:

Letter of Intent (LOI) to DF/HCC: October 12, 2023 (5pm) to deborah_goff@dfci.harvard.edu
DF/HCC Nominated Applicant Notified: November 2, 2023
Full Application Deadline to NCI (for selected candidate): December 8, 2023 (Internal deadline December 1, 2023)

The LOI (submit to Deborah Goff, PhD via email) should contain the following:

  • Name, academic title, institutional affiliation of candidate and mentor(s)
  • One-page summary of candidate career goals and objectives, including justification for the need for further career development to become an independent investigator
  • One-page summary of research plan, including research milestones to be met
  • Letters of Support
    • Letter from the Chair of Surgery outlining the details of financial support and mechanisms to assure at least 50% protected time for research training and career development, candidate-specific goals, and curriculum for the Participant
    • Letter from the primary mentor
  • NIH biosketch for ESSP-participant candidate and mentor(s)