Distinguished Researchers Program


Program Overview

Cancer research breakthroughs occur through the work of talented and well-resourced scientists. The Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE) Fund supports recruitments of distinguished researchers from around the globe to bring their best-in-class talent to research organizations and companies in Washington.

Top scientists move the research economy forward, creating laboratory and other jobs, raising awareness of cancer research, and bringing in additional research funding to the state. Recruitment at a mid- to senior- level has a demonstrated return on investment in terms of cancer research progress, job creation, and additional research funding.

The Distinguished Researchers Program will match, dollar for dollar, Washington research institutions’, organizations’, and commercial entities’ recruitment commitments up to $500,000 per recruitment, to add value to recruitment packages that bring leading cancer researchers to Washington. CARE grant funds may be used for any purpose (e.g., salaries, equipment, etc.) that advances the scholar’s research.


Program Objectives

The objectives of the CARE Fund (from RCW 43.348.005), and the primary review criteria by which applications will be evaluated are to:

  • Optimize the use of public funds by giving priority to research utilizing the best science and technology with the greatest potential to improve health outcomes;

  • Increase the value of our public investments by leveraging our state's existing cancer research facilities and talent, as well as clinical and therapeutic resources;

  • Incentivize additional investment by requiring private or other non-state resources to match public funds;

  • Create jobs and encourage investments that will generate new tax revenues in our state; and

  • Advance the biotech, medical device, and health care information technology industries in Washington.

CARE Fund Priorities and Considerations

In consideration of the above CARE Fund objectives, among applications of similar scientific merit (as established via peer review) priority in funding will be given to applications that:

  • Demonstrate a focus on cancers that disproportionately burden underserved populations in Washington State;

  • Demonstrate an effort to address health disparities and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the cancer research field; and

  • Demonstrate evidence of collaborative and/or cross-disciplinary or multi-sector approach.

In addition to the criteria listed above, the CARE Board will consider the variety in cancer-related disciplines represented within Washington State, as well as the geographic distribution of grantee organizations.



Applicant Organization

  • Washington State research institutions, organizations, and commercial entities are eligible to apply for a Distinguished Researchers grant. Applicants must have a substantial presence in Washington, as determined by CARE based on factors including, but not limited to: number and compensation of full-time equivalent employees who are residents of Washington relative to the applicant’s other sites; having research and development, administrative, or manufacturing facilities located in Washington; and payment of Washington Business and Occupation or other taxes, or any combination of such factors.

  • Applicant organizations may submit up to a maximum of three applications during the same funding round.

  • Applicant organizations must meet 1:1 matching fund requirements.

  • Applicant organizations must be willing to agree to all terms and conditions set forth in the CARE Grant Award Agreement.

Distinguished Researcher Candidate

  • All cancer-related researchers recruited to Washington State are eligible, including basic, translational, clinical, and population-based cancer researchers.

  • The Distinguished Researcher candidate must devote a minimum of 50% effort to research activities.

  • The start date of a new recruit must not be more than 180 days prior to the date of application submission.

  • Distinguished Researcher candidates that have a minimum of $750,000 in total current peer-reviewed funding and/or sponsored research agreements (i.e., all years, including direct and indirect costs) will be favored, irrespective of the ability to transfer such funding to Washington State.


Match Funding Requirements

  • Applicant institutions, organizations, and commercial entities must request funds proportional to its recruitment package (considering all costs budgeted in the recruitment agreement) up to $500,000 total request per researcher.

  • A minimum of 1:1 match must be secured at the time of the application submission. Proof of non-state or private matching contributions may be accomplished by providing a written, binding, enforceable agreement from the contributor that commits an equal or greater amount of non-state or private contributions to meet CARE’s matching requirement, and that acknowledges that the state CARE funds are contingent upon this contribution.

  • In the grant application budget, applicants are encouraged to reflect all non-state match amounts committed to the recruitment, even if the total match exceeds the minimum 1:1 non-state match requirement.

  • All grant award terms are five years so that applicants can report to CARE longer-term results.


Timeline and Application Process

Applicant organizations for the Distinguished Researchers Program are required to submit applications by Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 11:59 p.m. (PST). Applications should be submitted online via the CARE grants management system. A portal to the Distinguished Researchers application can be accessed below by clicking on the "Apply" button. It is anticipated that award decisions for this cohort will be made by May 2019.

Successful applicants will be notified via email.

Sample Grant Award Agreement templates and all relevant spending guidelines, conflict of interest, confidentiality, intellectual property, and matching funds guidelines are posted on the Award Documents page.

Resubmission: A Distinguished Researcher may not appear in more than one submitted application. An institution may submit up to three applications per cohort, but each application must be for a different Distinguished Researcher. Distinguished Researcher applications submitted but not funded in previous cohorts may be resubmitted in this cohort, provided that the eligibility criteria are met.


Application Review Process

Stage 1: Eligibility Screening

CARE staff will screen submitted applications for eligibility and completeness according to the following questions:

  1. Is the applicant organization eligible to apply under this grant program, per the eligibility requirements listed above?

  2. Does the proposal contain all required elements of the application?

  3. Does the application appear to meet non-state fund matching requirements?

If all questions above are answered ‘Yes,’ the application will move to Stage 2: Peer Review. An application may be returned to the Applicant for completion or clarification, then re-submission, per the judgment of the CARE Executive Director.

Stage 2: Peer Review

Stage 2 peer review will be conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS will recruit a panel of highly-qualified reviewers with expertise in relevant areas of cancer research. Each reviewer will evaluate the merit of each application in a cohort against the four review criteria listed below. The AAAS review panel will then discuss the initial review findings, taking into consideration CARE program objectives and priorities, to arrive at a consensus on final scores and ratings for each application. Reviewers will summarize the review results for each application in a final consensus review, which will include a justification of the final ranking of applications within the cohort.

AAAS staff will provide the CARE Board with the final consensus reviews, the cohort’s ranked scores and associated ratings, and a narrative summary of the AAAS review panel’s funding recommendations.

Stage 3: CARE Board Assessment and Funding Decision

The CARE Board will make funding decisions based on the scores, rankings, and recommendations made by the external AAAS reviewers and will ensure that AAAS reviews align with the CARE objectives and priorities. When deciding between applications of similar scientific merit, the CARE Board will also consider CARE program objectives and priorities in making funding decisions. The CARE Board will act in accordance with its Conflict of Interest Policy as well as Chapter 42.52 RCW (Ethics in Public Service) to avoid actual, perceived, or potential conflicts of interest.


Review Criteria

Eligible proposals will be evaluated against the following criteria:

Criterion 1. Scientific Significance, Innovation, and Merit of the Cancer Research (20 points); including the:

  • Significance of the proposed cancer research focus, themes, questions to be addressed, and approach (i.e., alignment with CARE goals and Applicant’s existing cancer research resources). For example:

    • The degree to which the research plan addresses an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the cancer field.

    • The strength of the scientific premise for the research plan.

    • The potential for scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice to be improved, if the aims of the research plan are achieved.

    • The degree to which successful completion of the research plan will change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field.

  • Innovation of the cancer research concepts, approaches, instrumentation, or interventions. For example:

    • The degree to which the research approach challenges and seeks to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.

    • The novelty of the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions generally and to one field of cancer research.

    • The degree to which the research approach refines, improves, or applies in novel ways theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.

  • Merit and feasibility of the research approach. For example:

    • The degree to which the approach or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions are appropriate to meet the proposed goals and objectives.

    • The feasibility of the researcher’s technical, collaboration, and funding plans.

Criterion 2. Potential for Impact (15 points); including the:

  • Potential for longer term impacts in the field of cancer research and clinical intervention.

  • Potential to improve health outcomes overall, nationally, and in Washington State.

  • Potential to increase research funding in Washington State.

  • Potential for sustainability and leverage through additional extramural funding.

  • Feasibility of the plan for disseminating research progress to the public and the cancer research community.

Criterion 3. Researcher Qualifications and Applicant Organization Commitment (15 points); including the:

  • Quality and scope of the researcher’s technical capability and management capacity (e.g., education, employment history, funding record, research portfolio, publication record, students trained, lab size, service, intellectual property, etc.).

  • Evidence of cross-disciplinary and/or multi-sector collaborations that have potential to strengthen the research approach.

  • Capacity to generate return on investment, measured by the researcher’s current and completed peer-reviewed funding and/or sponsored research agreements, the creation and commercialization of intellectual property, etc. (i.e., all years, including direct and indirect costs).

  • Demonstrated commitment of the applicant organization to support the researcher’s success (e.g., facilities, financial support, and other aspects of the institutional research environment.)

Criterion 4. Potential for Workforce Development (5 points); including the:

  • Potential to stimulate employment in Washington State (e.g., new compensated positions in Washington State, including post-docs, fellows, research assistants, etc.).

  • Potential to grow the life science industry in Washington State.

In addition to the criteria listed above, AAAS reviewers will take into consideration the CARE objectives and priorities when assigning final scores and ratings to each application and ranking the applications within a cohort.


Review Scores & Ratings

The following table summarizes the review criteria and scores:

Review Criteria

Maximum Score

Scientific Significance, Innovation, and Merit of the Cancer Research


Potential for Impact


Researcher Qualifications and Applicant Organization Commitment


Potential for Workforce Development


Total Score


Applications will be rated using the rating rubric shown below. The rating will concur with the total score and will reflect the overall funding recommendation.

Rating Description of Rating Total Score

Highly Recommended

Extremely well-organized and well-constructed application demonstrating excellent scientific merit, potential for impact, and potential for job creation. Distinguished Researcher candidate of impressive professional qualifications with high potential to meet the stated program goals and objectives.



Well-constructed application demonstrating strong scientific merit, potential for impact, and potential for job creation. Distinguished Researcher candidate of high qualifications with potential to meet the stated program goals and objectives.


Worthy of Consideration

Sufficiently constructed application demonstrating good scientific merit, potential for impact, and potential for job creation, but with some weaknesses. Distinguished Researcher candidate with potential to meet the stated program goals and objectives.


Not Recommended

Application demonstrating major weaknesses that will likely decrease the potential for scientific significance, impact, and job creation. Distinguished Researcher candidate may have limited potential to meet the stated program goals and objectives.


Overall Application Ranking within Cohort

Applications within each cohort will be ranked numerically (1 = highest ranked) based on the (i) total consensus score, (ii) rating, and (iii) the CARE objectives and priorities for funding decisions (listed above). Ranking will concur with the ratings assigned to all applications within a cohort and will reflect the AAAS review panel’s consensus on funding recommendations.


Intellectual Property

Grantees must report all inventions developed through CARE grant-funded activities or research projects to CARE. CARE does not intend to assert ownership of any invention that is derived from CARE funded research. However, if the grantee organization, or any subcontractor, decides not to take title and file an application for intellectual property protection, CARE would then have the option to take title. The grantee must notify CARE prior to any publication of the invention so as to allow CARE to take title and pursue or maintain intellectual property protection.

CARE does not expect to require payback of grants awarded based on income generated from sale or commercialization of any inventions resulting from CARE grant-funded activities or research. This approach is intended to minimize intellectual property-related barriers for potential applicants and encourage pursuit of transformational research. Successful projects will stimulate economic development through job creation and infusion of additional research funds to Washington. Products derived from these inventions will then be available to the public, with the expectation that it will improve health outcomes for the people of Washington and globally.

CARE must be listed as a funder in all presentations, publications, and patent applications.



Information in grant applications is received by CARE with the understanding that it shall be used or disclosed for the evaluation of applications or as required by law. CARE holds all applications confidential in accordance with its confidentiality procedures and subject to the public disclosure laws of the state of Washington. (For more information about Washington public disclosure law, applicants are referred to Chapter 42.56 RCW and to the amendments to the exemption provisions in RCW 42.56.270(29).)

CARE may make use of information contained in applications for purposes of transparency and publicity, including, but not limited to: applicant name; applicant organization; project title; funding amount requested; and applicant profile. For unfunded applications, CARE will not publicly release the abstract or narrative of the proposed work, budget details, or any identifiers regarding co-applicant organizations, to the extent disclosure of this information might reasonably be expected to result in private loss to the applicant organizations, and as is consistent with public disclosure laws of the state of Washington. If a proposal is funded, CARE may make public additional information from the application, including, but not limited to: project abstract; funding amount; names and profiles of the distinguished researcher, principal investigator, co-investigators, or collaborating organizations.

CARE reserves the right to publicly disseminate information about a grantee’s activities through public reports, its website, press releases, speaking engagements, and other public venues. To the extent allowable under Washington State law, CARE shall not publicly disclose information that has been marked as proprietary or confidential if such information has not been previously disclosed to the public, or other information to the extent that provision of such information would reasonably be expected to result in private loss to the providers of such information.

The CARE Fund will begin accepting applications for the third cohort of Distinguished Researchers on October 2, 2018. Applications must be submitted online via the CARE grants management system through Apply link. You can access the application materials below. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 11:59 p.m. (PST). For questions regarding this program or application process, please contact Peter Choi (peter@empirehealthfoundation.org).

Program Description

Application Template

Distinguished Researcher Budget Form

Milestones and Timeline Guidance