CARE Breakthrough Research Program


 

Program Overview

The CARE Fund sets the stage for novel research efforts that can generate or accelerate the next big discovery in cancer research. 

The Breakthrough Research Program seeks to provide seed funding for innovative, cross-disciplinary research and collaborations that aim to find the next big discovery in cancer research. While individual research group proposals will be considered, we believe that research environments that foster communication and collaboration across research teams, disciplines, institutions, and sectors have a higher likelihood of transformational breakthroughs that will have a tremendous impact in the cancer research field in Washington and beyond. CARE intends to match contributions of research groups, partnerships, or collaborations aimed at solving critical challenges in cancer research, allowing them to more rapidly pursue their best ideas. 


 

Program Objectives

The objectives of the CARE Breakthrough Program, and the primary review criteria by which applications will be evaluated are to:

  • Generate and accelerate transformational breakthroughs in cancer research that will extend understanding or open up new research pathways beyond the span of the project;
  • Develop innovative approaches to cancer research;
  • Promote cross-disciplinary collaborations in cancer research;
  • Leverage state investment by requiring non-state resources to match public funds;
  • Create jobs and encourage investments that, over time, will generate new tax revenues in our state; and
  • Advance the life science industries in Washington State, including but not limited to biotechnology, medical device, and health care information technology.

 

Eligibility

Applicant Organization

  • Washington State universities, research institutions, non-profit organizations, hospitals and clinics, and commercial entities are eligible to apply. Applicants must have a substantial presence in Washington, as determined by CARE based on factors including, but not limited to: the number and compensation of full-time equivalent employees who are residents of Washington relative to the applicant’s other sites; the presence of research, development, manufacturing, or commercial facilities located in Washington; payment of Washington Business and Occupation or other taxes; or any combination of such factors.
    • Collaborations or partnerships with institutions and researchers outside of Washington State are permitted. However, no more than 20% of CARE funds and 20% of matching funds may be allocated to out-of-state partners or researchers. Additionally, grantees must make best efforts to purchase goods and services from Washington suppliers to the extent reasonably possible, where such goods and services are available, and are comparable in quality and utility, and the price is not more than 20% higher than that of the non-Washington State supplier.

  • Organizations may submit up to three (3) letters of interest per funding round, but the proposed research projects must be decidedly different.

  • This announcement is open to all cancer-related research proposals.

  • Both individual research organizations with a cross-disciplinary approach and collaborations will be considered. 

  • Grant awards will be issued in a two-stage process:
    • In the first year, applicants may request up to $750,000 per proposal and must articulate a proposal for research planning and feasibility studies. Funds in subsequent years will be contingent on meeting the feasibility goals and progress milestones outlined in the proposal. Applicant organizations must meet 1:1 matching fund requirements for the first-year planning and feasibility phase, equivalent to the requested amount up to $750,000.
    • Projects that can demonstrate significant breakthrough potential will be eligible for ongoing funding up to $3 million annually for a maximum of four years. In order to receive ongoing funding after the initial planning and feasibility year, the grantee must demonstrate significant potential for breakthrough, as well as progress on key milestones through a separate application process. For grantees that are awarded continued funding, annual achievement of progress milestones and breakthrough potential will remain criteria for renewed CARE funding. Applicant must also demonstrate proof of 1:1 match from non-state of Washington funds or provide a fund development plan for a back-end match, and demonstrate meaningful progress toward achieving back-end match annually. More details about the matching requirements are provided below.
    • The first-year research planning and feasibility studies period may be extended up to 12 months to sufficiently demonstrate breakthrough potential. While the first-year period may be extended, the grantee is only eligible to receive up to $750,000 for that period. Regardless of whether the first-year period exceeds 12 months, the planning and feasibility period will be considered year 1. A grantee will only be eligible for year 2 funding, which is capped at $3 million, once they have sufficiently demonstrated feasibility and breakthrough potential of their proposed research as determined by external reviewers and the CARE Board.
  • Applicant organizations must be willing to agree to all terms and conditions set forth in the CARE Grant Award Letter.

Researcher

  • Individual researchers may appear on more than one application from their home organization or a collaborative/partner organization; however, it will be the responsibility of the applicant/researcher: to determine reasonable time allocation of personnel; to clearly disclose to CARE their overall capacity for conducting research under the proposed projects; and to demonstrate in the LOI/application the reasonableness of the researchers’ efforts for successful delivery of results. (Note: In cases where more than one application has the same Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD), and where the applicant does not satisfactorily address the PI/PD’s workload management, the lower scored application may not be funded, even if it would have otherwise scored well enough to receive CARE funding within the cohort.)
  • A researcher can be named on and accept multiple awards. However, the non-state match funds must be different for each award.
  • The Principal Investigator/Project Director must perform 100% of their work funded by CARE grant awards in Washington State. Collaborating or partnering researchers may perform CARE-funded research outside Washington State. However, no more than 20% of CARE funds and 20% of matching funds may be allocated to out-of-state partners or researchers.
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval is not required to submit an LOI. However, if invited to submit a Full Proposal, applicant must provide a plan to satisfy any applicable regulation requirements and demonstrate pursuit of the relevant IRB or IACUC approval required to accomplish the research activities proposed in the application.

 

 Timeline and Application Process

The Breakthrough Research Grant application must be submitted as a single application through the lead principal investigator (PI) and their organization. All collaborating research groups and projects must be handled as subcontracts if they reside outside the lead applicant organization. The applicant institution is responsible for developing the overall program budget, coordinating subcontracts, ensuring all budgeted costs are allowable, and submitting all future reports for the collaborative, as required under the grant terms. [Note: the specific dates below are subject to change. However, applicants will have 8 weeks from the release of this announcement to prepare and submit the Letter of Interest, and invited applicants will have 12 weeks from their invitation to prepare and submit the Full Proposal application.]

Applicants for the CARE Breakthrough Research Program are required to submit a Letter of Interest by Friday, March 9, 2018, 11:59 PM (PST). Letters should be submitted online via the CARE grants management system. Letters of Interest will be reviewed, and only invited applicants are eligible to submit a full proposal. Applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal by June 25, 2018. The deadline for the full application is Friday, September 21, 2018, 11:59 PM (PST). Applications are to be submitted online via the CARE grants management system. A portal to the Breakthrough Research application can be accessed below. It is anticipated that final funding decisions and announcements for the first cohort of applications will be made by year end 2018.

Successful applicants will be notified via a letter of Grant Award, which will fully stipulate the terms and conditions of the award.

Resubmission: Invited applicants who fail to meet the September 14 deadline must resubmit their Letter of Interest in the next round to be reconsidered. Applicants who are not invited to submit a full proposal may resubmit a Letter of Interest in subsequent cohorts. Full proposal submissions that did not receive funding in a prior CARE grant cycle may resubmit a Letter of Interest in subsequent cohorts. CARE staff will be happy to provide specific feedback from the external review process should applicants choose to resubmit.

Activity Date

Letter of Interest Deadline

March 9, 2018

Invitation for Full Proposal

June 25, 2018

Full Proposal Deadline (only invited applicants)

September 21, 2018

Notification of Awards

December 2018


 

Review Process

Stage 1: Eligibility Screening

CARE staff will screen Letters of Interest (LOI) for eligibility and completeness according to the following questions:

  1. Does the LOI contain all required elements?
  2. Is applicant eligible to apply under this grant program, per the eligibility requirements listed above?
  3. Is the LOI appropriate to and in the spirit of the CARE Breakthrough Research Grant Program, as described in the program objectives?*

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

*Special Note: In the inaugural year for the CARE Breakthrough Grant program, the CARE Board will also be reviewing all LOI submissions to determine if the applications received meet the envisioned program objectives for stimulating transformational breakthroughs in cancer research. This may result in modifications to the application process, either for all applicants in the first cohort, or for future program design.

Stage 2: Peer Review (Letter of Interest)

Eligible LOIs will be reviewed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS will empanel highly-qualified reviewers with expertise in the relevant areas of cancer research to review the LOIs.

Each reviewer will evaluate the merit of each LOI in a cohort against the 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 LOI. Reviewers will summarize the review results for each LOI in a final consensus review.

The AAAS staff will provide the CARE Board with the final consensus reviews and ratings, as well as a narrative summary of the AAAS review panel’s full proposal invitation recommendations. Each applicant will receive the AAAS consensus review of their application. The review will be single-blind. The identity of the reviewers will not be known to the Applicant or to the CARE Board.

Stage 3: CARE Board Full Proposal Invitation

The CARE Board will invite Applicants to submit a full proposal based on the scores, ratings, and recommendations made by external AAAS reviewers. The CARE Board will provide a secondary review to ensure that AAAS reviews align with CARE objectives and priorities. The CARE Board will act in accordance with its Conflict of Interest Policy as well as Title 42.52 RCW (Ethics in Public Service) to avoid both actual and apparent conflicts of interest. Applicants will then have 12 weeks to prepare and submit the full proposal.

Stage 4: Peer Review (Full Proposal)

Stage 4 peer review will be conducted by 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 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 within the cohort. Reviewers will summarize the review results for each application in a final consensus review.

The AAAS staff will provide the CARE Board with the final consensus reviews, associated ratings, and a narrative summary of the AAAS review panel’s funding recommendations. The review will be single-blind. The identity of the reviewers will not be known to the Applicant or to the CARE Board.

Stage 5: CARE Board Assessment and Funding Decision

The CARE Board will make funding decisions based on the scores, ratings, and recommendations made by the external AAAS reviewers. The CARE Board will provide a secondary review to ensure that AAAS reviews align with CARE objectives and priorities. When deciding between applications of similar 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 Title 42.52 RCW (Ethics in Public Service) to avoid both actual and apparent conflicts of interest.


 

Review Criteria

Review Criteria—Letter of Interest

Letters of interest will be evaluated against the following criteria:

Criterion 1. Significance and Impact [20 Points]; including the:

  • Originality and innovation of the proposed research; potential of the project to result in transformational research that will extend understanding or open new pathways in the field
  • Significance of the proposed research as it relates to critical problems and persistent barriers in cancer research
  • Potential of proposed research to improve health outcomes
  • Potential of proposed research to drive economic growth in the state of Washington related to cancer research (e.g., project potential for commercialization, stimulation of employment in the state, life science industry growth, etc.

Criterion 2. Scientific & Technical Merit and Feasibility [25 Points]; including the:

  • Strength and merit of the proposed scientific approach
  • Degree to which the methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions are appropriate to meet the proposed goals and objectives
  • Feasibility of the overall five-year research plan and progress milestones
  • Feasibility of the first-year technical plan and milestones
  • Likelihood that meeting of first-year milestones will provide sufficient evidence to determine worthiness of future funding (years 2–5)
  • Suitability of the budget and potential of the back-end match fund development plan to support project goals and sustainability beyond initial funding period

Criterion 3. Research Environment [15 Points]; including the:

  • Capability of the Principal Investigator(s) to conduct and manage the proposed scientific and technical work
  • Evidence of complementary, innovative cross-disciplinary and/or multi-sector collaborations that have potential to strengthen the research approach
  • Potential of the research environment to foster communication across the research team, institution, and/or sectors or industries
  • Potential of the research environment to foster existing and/or new cross-disciplinary collaborations and/or partnerships
  • Commitment of the participating organization(s) to support the research project (e.g., access to facilities, financial support, and other aspects of the institutional research environment)

 


Review Scores and Ratings—Letter of Interest

Letter of Interest Review Criteria Maximum Score

Significance and Impact

20

Scientific & Techical Merit and Feasibility

25

Research Environment

15

Total Score

60

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

Demonstrates high potential to accomplish a major breakthrough in cancer research, excellent scientific merit, and a strong collaborative approach. Meets the stated goals and objectives of the CARE Fund initiative. Extremely well-organized and well-constructed Letter of Interest.


50–60

Recommended

Demonstrates high potential to impact the field of cancer research, strong scientific merit, and a collaborative approach. Meets the stated goals and objectives of the CARE Fund initiative. Well-constructed Letter of Interest.


40–49

Worthy of Consideration

Demonstrates good scientific merit and some potential to impact the field of cancer research, establish collaborations, and meet the stated goals and objectives of the CARE Fund initiative. Sufficiently constructed Letter of Interest.


30–39

Not Recommended

Demonstrates major weaknesses that will likely decrease the potential for successful completion of the proposed work and impact in the field of cancer research. Limited potential to meet the stated goals and objectives of the CARE Fund initiative. Poorly constructed Letter of Interest.

0–29


Review Criteria—Full Proposal

Invited Applicant proposals will be evaluated against the following criteria:

Criterion 1. Significance and Impact (10 points); including the:

  • Significance of the proposed research as it relates to critical problems and persistent barriers in cancer research
  • Degree to which successful completion of the project will have an extended impact on the selected area of cancer research and healthcare
  • Potential of proposed research to drive economic growth in the state of Washington related to cancer research (e.g., project potential for commercialization, stimulation of employment in the state, life science industry growth, etc.)

Criterion 2. Innovation (10 points); including the:

  • Degree to which the proposed research and approach is original or innovative (e.g., utilization of novel theoretical concepts, approaches, or methodologies to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms)
  • Potential of the project to result in transformational research that will extend understanding or open new pathways in the cancer research field

Criterion 3. Scientific and Technical Merit (15 points); including the:

  • Strength and merit of the proposed scientific approach
  • Degree to which the research methodologies and interventions are appropriate to meet the proposed goals and objectives
  • Suitability of the technical plan and milestones for the Research Planning and Feasibility Studies (Year 1) and the Research Studies (Years 2–5)
  • Quality of the scientific, technical, and supporting resources (including instrumentation and core facilities)
  • Clear and appropriate strategy for adhering to any applicable regulations, including protection for human and animal subjects

Criterion 4. First-Year Feasibility Plan (10 points); including the:

  • Merit and feasibility of the first-year technical plan
  • Potential for successful completion of first-year goals and milestones
  • Degree to which successful completion of first-year research planning and feasibility studies will increase potential to attract extramural funding opportunities from federal agencies, industry, or non-profits
  • Likelihood that meeting of first-year milestones will provide sufficient evidence to determine worthiness of future funding (years 2–5)
  • Feasibility of the budget within the funding limitations of the CARE Fund (1:1 match, up to $750,000)

Criterion 5. Research Environment and Management Plan (15 points); including the:

  • Overall strength of the management plan
  • Capability of the team of investigators to provide the appropriate expertise and uniquely combined perspectives to accomplish the proposed research
  • Evidence of complementary, innovative cross-disciplinary and/or multi-sector collaborations that have potential to strengthen the research approach
  • Potential of the research environment to foster communication across the research team, institution, and/or sectors or industries
  • Potential of the research environment to foster existing and/or new cross-disciplinary collaborations and/or partnerships
  • Quality and scope of the Principal Investigator and Applicant Organization’s management capacity (e.g., funding record, research portfolio, space and facilities, etc.)
  • Commitment of the participating organization(s) to support the research project (e.g., access to facilities, financial support, and other aspects of the institutional research environment)
  • Overall potential of the back-end match fund development plan to leverage additional extramural funding for project sustainability

Review Scores and Ratings—Full Proposal

The following table summarizes the review criteria and scores:

Full Proposal Review Criteria Maximum Score

Significance and Impact

10

Innovation

10

Scientific and Techical Merit

15

First-Year Feasibility Plan

10

Research Environment & Management Plan

15

Total Score

60

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

Demonstrates high potential to accomplish a major breakthrough in cancer research, excellent scientific merit, and a strong collaborative approach. Comprehensively addressed the feedback on the Letter of Interest. Meets the stated goals and objectives of the CARE Fund initiative. Extremely well-organized and well-constructed Proposal.


50–60

Recommended

Demonstrates high potential to impact the field of cancer research, strong scientific merit, and a collaborative approach. Reasonably addressed the feedback on the Letter of Interest. Meets the stated goals and objectives of the CARE Fund initiative. Well-constructed Proposal.


40–49

Worthy of Consideration

Demonstrates good scientific merit and some potential to impact the field of cancer research, establish collaborations, and meet the stated goals and objectives of the CARE Fund initiative. Satisfactorily addressed the feedback on the Letter of Interest. Sufficiently constructed Proposal.


30–39

Not Recommended

Demonstrates major weaknesses that will likely decrease the potential for successful completion of the proposed work and impact in the field of cancer research. Did not satisfactorily address the feedback on the Letter of Interest. Limited potential to meet the stated goals and objectives of the CARE Fund initiative. Poorly constructed Proposal.

0–29


 

Renewal Process and Criteria

Ninety (90) days before the end of the first grant period (research planning and feasibility studies period), grantees will be required to submit a separate Breakthrough Research Renewal Application, including detailed progress and financial reports, as well as an updated research plan demonstrating significant potential for breakthrough research in order to determine further grant investment by CARE for the subsequent year. This application will be used to evaluate whether the grantee is making meaningful progress to their milestones and whether the proposed research continues to have the potential for a transformational breakthrough in cancer research. CARE will continue to evaluate progress on milestones and potential for breakthrough to make annual funding renewal decisions. As previously mentioned, grantees will also be reporting research progress, costs incurred, and matching funds secured on a quarterly basis in order to draw down CARE grant payments. For more details about the specific expectations for Annual Grant Renewal Application, as well as quarterly reports, please see grant award letter.

Stage 1: Grant Renewal Screening

CARE staff will review the grant renewal application to ensure that the Annual Progress and Financial Reports and the updated research plan have been submitted with sufficient information to evaluate grantee progress and breakthrough potential. Using the criteria below, CARE staff will evaluate the progress of the grantee on achieving the milestones according to the timeline as detailed in the proposal and annual progress reports. Additionally, CARE staff will evaluate whether the grantee has met or is making meaningful progress toward achieving CARE’s 1:1 non-state match funding requirement. Renewal applications may also be reviewed by AAAS to ensure meaningful progress has been made and that there continues to be a high potential for a transformational breakthrough in cancer research. Criteria to be used in any AAAS reviews will be provided in the grant award agreement. CARE staff will make a recommendation based on their evaluation and any AAAS review to the CARE Board as to whether the grantee should continue to receive funding.

Stage 2: Grant Renewal Screening

The CARE Board will make the final decision about continued funding based on AAAS reviews and the recommendations made by CARE staff regarding progress on milestones, as well as CARE staff’s assessment of the grantee’s fulfillment or progress to achieve the non-state match funding requirement. The CARE Board will provide a final review to ensure that the staff and AAAS reviews align with CARE objectives and priorities. The CARE Board will act in accordance with its Conflict of Interest Policy as well as Title 42.52 RCW (Ethics in Public Service) to avoid both actual and apparent conflicts of interest.

Criterion 1. Research Progress and Achievement of Milestones

  • Achievement of progress milestones according to timeline, as outlined in the Proposal and prior Annual Progress Reports
  • Potential of the project to result in a breakthrough that will have an extended impact on the selected area of cancer research
  • Degree to which current research progress indicates likelihood of successful project completion, as outlined in the initial proposal and past progress reports
  • Additional criteria used in any AAAS reviews will be provided in the grant award agreement

Criterion 2. Fund Development

  • Met 1:1 CARE Fund match criteria
  • Feasibility of meeting CARE Fund’s 1:1 match criterion
  • Potential for sustainability and leverage through additional extramural funding

Progress reports will be rated using the rating rubric shown below.

Rating Description of Rating

Highly Recommended for Continued Funding

Has demonstrated meaningful progress toward all research plan milestones according to timeline. Extremely likely to achieve research objectives as outlined in the proposal with high potential for scientific significance, impact, and job creation. Has demonstrated, or is making significant progress toward achieving 1:1 match funding of CARE funds.


Recommended for Continued Funding

Has demonstrated meaningful progress toward most research plan milestones according to timeline. Likely to achieve the majority of research objectives as outlined in the proposal with potential for scientific significance, impact, and job creation. Has demonstrated, or is making progress toward achieving 1:1 match funding of CARE funds.


Not Recommended for Continued Funding

Unable to demonstrate meaningful progress toward research plan milestones according to timeline. Unlikely to achieve research objectives as outlined in the proposal, with limited potential for scientific significance and impact. May have demonstrated poor progress toward achieving 1:1 match funding of CARE funds.



 

Matching Fund Requirements

Up to $12,750,000 may be awarded over five years per research project. Funding will be contingent on: the availability of Washington State CARE funds; the grantee’s ability to secure non-state match funds; the grantee’s meaningful progress in securing back-end match funds; the grantee’s achievement of the milestones described in the proposal; and grantee’s continued potential for a transformational breakthrough discovery in cancer research.

  • Applicants must request funds proportional (1:1) to their current and back-end match funds.
  • A minimum of 1:1 non-state match for first-year research planning and feasibility studies must be secured at the time of the application submission. Proof of 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 of Washington or private contributions to meet the CARE’s matching requirement, and that acknowledges that the CARE funds are contingent upon this contribution.
  • Applicant must also demonstrate 1:1 non-state match for all continued funding (years 2 through 5), or a strong fund development plan for raising the back-end match after the initial research planning and feasibility studies period. If a fund development plan is proposed, the applicant organization must guarantee 100% of the match in a written, binding, enforceable agreement upfront. All match funds must be committed before the end of the full grant period. In other words, the applicant must be committed to backstopping all match dollars that are not successfully raised in the proposed back-end fund development plan through other means.
  • In the grant application budget, applicants should reflect all non-state match amounts, even if the total match exceeds the minimum 1:1 requirement.
  • All award payments (Years 1–5) will be made on a quarterly cost-reimbursement basis, contingent on availability of funds, meaningful progress in achievement of proposal milestones, and demonstration of secured non-state match funds.
  • For specific details about allowable sources of matching funds, please see CARE’s Matching Funds Policy

 

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.


 

Confidentiality

All applicants to the CARE Breakthrough Research Program are advised that proprietary and confidential information included in their proposal is currently NOT protected from potential Public Records request/disclosure, thus should consider that fact when deciding what information and data are included in the funding request. At this time, no CARE funding applicants are exempt from potential Public Disclosure of proprietary or confidential information under RCW 42.56.270.


 

Apply

The deadline to submit a Letter of Interest for the Breakthrough Research Program has passed (March 9, 2018). Based on the LOI reviews by AAAS, CARE has invited successful applicants to submit a full proposal application. Only invited applicants can submit a full proposal through the online application portal. Below, you can preview the application materials and a printable version of the Breakthrough Program Description.