Skip to main content
An official website of the United States government

NCI Director’s Innovation Award Past Recipients

The NCI Director’s Innovation Award Program is designed to support development of highly innovative approaches and technology aimed at significant cancer-related problems. Novel proposals with the potential for high impact, the potential to generate new intellectual property or technology, or which are considered too high-risk or preliminary to pursue within the base budget allocation are encouraged. Proposals with an emphasis on health disparities research are also encouraged. The program offers one-time awards Career Development Awards that are targeted to Postdoctoral Fellows, Staff Scientists, and Staff Clinicians at all levels, with an upper limit of $10,000.

2023 Director¹s Innovation Award Recipients - Career Development

Christopher Bohrer, Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression
General principles of enhancer-biology: building from scratch

Nicolas Cuburu, Laboratory of Cellular Oncology
Harnessing adaptive Natural Killer cells to treat solid tumors

Sarah Dremel, HIV & AIDS Malignancy Branch
Sequence determines function: Molecular mechanisms of herpesvirus circRNAs

Veer Keizer, Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression
Magnetic manipulation of enhancer-promoter interaction

Sierra Marker, Chemical Biology Laboratory
Harnessing transporter upregulation to create selective probes for HNSCC

Sushant Patkar, Molecular Imaging Branch
Identifying imaging biomarkers of exceptional responses to cancer therapy

Philippe Youkharibache, Cancer Data Science Laboratory
Engineering next generation CAR with a natively dimeric architecture

2022 Director¹s Innovation Award Recipients - Career Development

Pradip Bajgain, Mouse Cancer Genetics Program
‘Self-driving’ CARs to target solid malignancies

Siddharth Sai Matikonda, Chemical Biology Laboratory
Chemical Strategy to Achieve Efficient Targeted Delivery of PI3K Inhibitors

Brajendra Tripathi, Laboratory of Cellular Oncology
Targeting mutant KRAS lung adenocarcinoma by reactivating tumor suppressor

Syed Usama, Chemical Biology Laboratory
Investigating PDL1 as Novel Target for Fluorescence Guided Surgery in TNBC

Wei Wu, Laboratory of Genome Integrity
Mechanism of cognitive dysfunction during chemotherapy

Acong Yang, RNA Biology Laboratory
Cell-specific miRNA target mapping by RNA editing & single cell sequencing

2021 Director¹s Innovation Award Recipients - Career Development

Qun Jiang, Thoracic and GI Malignancies Branch
Development of mesothelin-targeted CAR-NK cell therapy for solid tumors

Nan Li, Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Design of novel CAR T cells based on integration sites by genome editing

Zhihui Liu, Pediatric Oncology Branch
Hi-C-based identification of chromatin associated proteins and eRNAs

Robin Sebastian, Developmental Therapeutics Branch
How DNA double-strand breaks affect the dynamics of mammalian replication

Miranda Sowder, Pediatric Oncology Branch
Remodeling the tumor extracellular matrix using genetically engineered MSCs

Shweta Tiwary, Vaccine Branch
Roles of pro-resolving lipids on augmenting cancer vaccine efficacy

2020 Director¹s Innovation Award Recipients - Career Development

Daniel Arango, Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression
Detection of mRNA Decay Intermediates using Nanopore Sequencing

Cristina Bergamaschi, Vaccine Branch
Development of circular mRNA expression vectors for cancer immunotherapy

Xavier Bofill De Ros, RNA Biology Laboratory
Functional mapping of miRNA maturation defects via single cell sequencing

H. Diego Folco, Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
High Throughput Screen for Small-Molecule Inhibitors of Gametogenesis

James Kirui, Retroviral Replication Laboratory
Using highly sensitive reporter virus vectors to study late stages of HIV-1

Kerrie Marie, Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics
Single-cell sequencing of melanoblasts to uncover metastasis mechanisms

Sounak Sahu, Mouse Cancer Genetics Program
A high-throughput screening platform to identify CRISPR-editing enhancers

Sheryse Taylor, Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis
Integrative & comparative analysis of the immune response to tobacco smoke

2019 Director's Innovation Award Recipients - Career Development

Jiangdong Chen, Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Mechanistic insight into an N-acetyltransferase regulating sRNA function

Christina Fitzsimmons, Laboratory of Cell Biology
Linking fumarate and gene expression in renal cell carcinoma

Berkley Gryder, Genetics Branch
Cruciform DNA Adds Critical Signal-Relay Decision Layer to Gene Control 

Stephanie Harmon, Molecular Imaging Program
Automated identification of adverse features on digital pathology and MRI 

Sri Krishna, Surgery Branch
Immune correlates of successful adoptive T-cell therapy 

Jyoti Roy, Molecular Imaging Program
Preservation of salivary gland function after PSMA radionuclide therapies 

Rushikesh Sable, Pediatric Oncology Branch
Precision targeting of M2-like tumor associated macrophages

Varun Sood, Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression 
Investigating the determinants of enhancer-promoter interactions 

Yongjun Sui, Vaccine Branch 
Epigenetic programming of myeloid cells and trained immunity in HIV vaccine

Yihan Wan, Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression
Orchestrated single-cell transcription dynamics during cell fate decision

2018 Director's Innovation Award Recipients - Career Development

Tomer Cooks, Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis 
Precision medicine tools to identify cell-specificity of tumor exosomes 

Qiong Fu, Thoracic and Gastrointestinal Oncology Branch
Identifying novel function of platelets in NAFLD-promoted HCC development 

Chorong Han, Lymphoid Malignancies Branch
Zebrafish as a model for erythroid disorders caused by THRA gene mutations 

Bau-Lin Huang, Cancer and Developmental Biology Laboratory
Gene expression signatures of mouse embryo limb mesenchymal progenitors 

Joe Matarlo, Molecular Targets Laboratory
Natural Product Modulators of miR-21: Implications in Cancer Stem Cells 

Carla Neckles, Genetics Branch
Novel rG4 HNRNPH1-directed Aptamers as Splicing Modulators in Cancer

Eva Perez Guijarro, Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics
In vivo CRISPR/Cas9 screening for novel targets for melanoma immunotherapy 

Leonid Serebryannyy, Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression 
Identify molecular pathways of micronuclei formation

David Sturgill, Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression 
Base resolution mapping of acetylated cytidine in mRNA 

Leila Toulabi, Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis 
Mechanistic Investigation of DRD1 EGFR as a Novel Signaling Axis in Lung Cancer 

Scott Walsh, Chemical Biology Laboratory
Rebuilding T cells for Cancer Immunodeficiencies using the IL-7 Pathway 

Li Xia, Chemical Biology Laboratory
Engineer anti-carbohydrate antibody using multivalent display platform 

Acong Yang, Radiation Biology Branch
Identification of Target-Specific Small Molecule Inhibitors of miR-155

2017 Director's Innovation Award Recipients - Career Development

Fardokht Abulwerdi, Basic Research Laboratory
Triple helix-containing long noncoding RNA, MALAT1, as a therapeutic target

Xavier Bofill De Ros, Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory
Design of a single tool for DNA editing and RNA interference

David Calabrese, Chemical Biology Laboratory
Precise Control of MYC Transcription via Light Mediated Azobenzene Linkers

Andres Canela, Laboratory of Genome Integrity
Physiological role of DNA breaks at neuronal promoters

Jiandong Chen, Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Novel mechanism of sRNA regulation in bacteria 

Austin Duffy, Thoracic and GI Oncology Branch
Precision Immunotherapy for gastric cancer

Ying Fu, Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Glypican-3 Specific Antibody Drug Conjugates for Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Daniel Green, Womens Malignancies Branch
Generation of Continuous 3-D Cultures of Primary Ovarian Cancer Cells

Maria Hernandez, Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis
Identification of viral-host signatures linked to early onset of HCC

Nan Li, Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Glypican2 as a New Therapeutic Target in Neuroblastoma

Helen Michael, Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics
Identification of genes involved in initiation and transformation of moles

Carter Mitchell, Molecular Targets Laboratory
Anti-Cancer Proteins: A Novel Paradigm to Fight the Ancient Battle

Colin Paul, Laboratory of Cell Biology
Intravital Characterization of Early Metastatic Colonization

Vivek Shukla, Thoracic and GI Oncology Branch
Identification of Novel Targets for Lung Cancer Therapy Using an iPSC Model

Dionysios Watson, Vaccine Branch
“Trojan macrophages” for tumor homing and local delivery of immunotherapy 

  • Updated:

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “NCI Director’s Innovation Award Past Recipients was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”