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Director’s Innovation Award Program

The FY2025 Innovation Award Program is NOW OPEN. You can view the FY2025 program announcement below, which includes eligibility requirements and instructions.  Please see list of past winners of NCI Director’s Innovation Award.

Program Announcement for 2025 Innovation Awards

The NCI Director’s Innovation Award Program is designed to support development of highly innovative approaches and technology aimed at significant problems from across the CCR portfolio.

Proposals are encouraged which:

  • explore novel concepts with the potential for high-impact,
  • have the potential to generate new intellectual property or technology,
  • are considered too high-risk or preliminary to pursue within the base budget allocation, or
  • focus on health disparities research. 

For the current (FY25) round, CCR will offer one-time Career Development Awards of $10,000 for Postdoctoral Fellows, Staff Scientists, and Staff Clinicians.

Due Date: LOI due June 10; full application, if approved, due July 22, via proposalCENTRAL (see URL and specific instructions below).

Eligibility: Career Development Innovation Award applications will be accepted from:

  • Postdoctoral Fellows at all levels (CRTA, VF, RF and Clinical Fellows)
  • Staff Scientists/Clinicians who have not yet received an Innovation Award since their last quadrennial Staff Scientist review.

RESUBMISSIONS of proposals submitted for the FY24 round will be accepted but must include a brief statement highlighting any significant changes from the prior submission.

PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS may apply again EXCEPT FOR Staff Scientists who have received an Innovation Award during their current quadrennial review period. Previous Recipients must clearly articulate how the new application is distinct from the previously funded project.

Level of Support: The Career Development Innovation Award conveys $10,000 in S&S, to be used in FY25, during the recipient’s intramural appointment.

Evaluation Criteria Proposals will be evaluated based on degree of innovation and the potential for high-impact conceptual or technological breakthroughs on difficult or high-risk problems in cancer-related or other CCR research areas. Applicants should clearly articulate all innovative and high-risk aspects of the proposal, as well as the potential impact on the field and the potential to lead to new intellectual property or technologyLow-risk proposals or applications proposing the “next logical step” of the ongoing research will not be considered for Innovation Awards.

Follow-Up Requirements: As in the previous round, recipients are required to provide a brief report summarizing results and accomplishments. Follow-up reports will be collected via proposalCENTRAL.

Letters of Intent (LOI): A basic LOI (NTE 3500 characters including spaces) describing the novelty and impact of your proposed research would be due no later than June 10, 2024LOIs would be approved or rejected no later than June 17, 2024.  At that time you would have access to a full application.

Instructions for Submitting CCR Innovation Awards via proposalCENTRAL

  1. Log in to proposalCENTRAL ( ), or register if you are a first time user.
  2. Link your professional profile, located under the green tab, to the following institution: National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research. Once you complete the link to Institution, you will see your Professional Profile. Fill in the Position Title and Phone number fields, the others are not required. Click “Save” and “Next.”  Enter your degrees on the next page, then click “Save” and “Next.” There are several additional but unneeded pages in the professional profile which you do not need to complete. Simply click on the Grant Opportunities tab on the top right to proceed to the next required section.
  3. Under the Grant Opportunities tab, use the “Filter List by GrantMaker” dropdown menu near the top of the page to select “National Cancer Institute – Innovation Awards,” and click “Filter.” You should then see one entry. Click on “Apply Now” on the far right of this entry to proceed. The first step is the LOI Sections. Please complete all requested sections, paying particular attention to the Project Abstract (NTE 3500 characters) and a Statement of Innovation section stressing the innovative aspects of the proposal, potential for high-impact conceptual or technological breakthroughs, and describing any new IP or technology the project may generate.
  4. If your LOI is approved you will receive access to the full application. You will log into proposalCENTRAL as above. You will now see a grey box on the left that says Proposal Sections. Please complete all requested/required sections.

Instructions for Preparing 2025 CCR Innovation Award Applications (if LOI is approved)

Full applications are due on July 22, 2024 via proposalCENTRAL and will consist of three main parts: Title Page, Research Plan, and Biosketch.

  1. Title Page items will be captured in specific fields in the proposalCENTRAL website:
    1. Applicant name, Lab/Branch affiliation, position, contact info.
    2. Project Title. Enter a succinct and informative proposal title. Please do not use all caps.
    3. Project Abstract (NTE 3500 characters including spaces) and a Statement of Innovation stressing the innovative aspects of the proposal, potential for high-impact conceptual or technological breakthroughs, and describing any new IP or technology the project may generate.
    4. Resubmissions and Previous Recipients should indicate how the current application differs from the previous application or funded project.
    5. Click “Save” and then “Next.”
  2. Download Templates and Instructions Page, PHS Biosketch, Research Plan. Complete and save for upload.
  3. Research Plan should be prepared as a single pdf of 5 pages max. including all figures, budget, and any description of collaborators or special resources required. Font should be no smaller than 11-point, document may be single-spaced. Number pages in the footer, show applicant name in the header.
    1. Research Plan subsections are flexible; typically these include background and significance, hypothesis, specific aims, preliminary data (if any), research design and key references. Be sure to explain innovative approaches, discussing how they are novel, and the potential advantages over existing approaches.
    2. Budget – Briefly describe how the $10,000 award will be used to support the proposed research.
    3. Collaborators and Resources (optional) - Identify key collaborator and/or and special facilities or equipment essential to the proposal from beyond your lab.
  4. Enable Other Users to Access this Proposal: Please enter your PI with View or Edit access. You may add others you wish to view your proposal as well. Click “Next.”
  5. Applicant/PI Page:  Everything should autopopulate except for your email; please enter it here. If the other fields are not correct, please edit your professional profile (see step 2 in Instructions for Submitting). Click “Save” and then “Next.”
  6. Abstract/Statement of Innovation:  Enter a summary of the project, about 600 words. Then enter a Statement of Innovation, stressing the innovative aspects of the proposal, potential for high-impact conceptual or technological breakthroughs, and describing any new IP or technology the project may generate. Click “Save” and then “Next.”
  7. Upload your Research Plan and PHS Biosketch. PHS biosketch and bibliography should be prepared as a separate pdf using the PHS Biosketch for Innovation Awards template (2 pages). Click “Next.”
  8. Validate and make any needed corrections. Print a copy of your submission.
  9. Click “Submit.”  You should get an email of confirmation and see a confirmation screen.


CCR staff should direct questions to:

Jennifer Mariano (

  • Updated: