Clinical Investigator Award Overview

Program Description  |  Program Sponsors  |  Eligibility  |  Funding  |  Reporting  |  Policies and Procedures

Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators are eligible to apply for Continuation Grants in the final year of their award.

>>Get Clinical Investigator Award Forms for Applicants and Awardees

>>See Clinical Investigator Application Guidelines

>>See List of Invited Institutions

Program Description

NOTICE: Institutional nominations have been reinstated. Please review carefully. The 2015 application deadline date for this award is Tuesday, February 17, 2015  

The Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award supports independent young physician-scientists conducting disease-oriented research that demonstrates a high level of innovation and creativity. The goal is to support the best young physician-scientists doing work aimed at improving the practice of cancer medicine. 

The Clinical Investigator Award responds to three recognized realities:

  • Though there has never been a more pressing need or more promising time for clinical cancer research, fewer young physicians enter this area of investigation every year.
  • The number of institutions committed to training young physicians in the scientific discipline and methodologies of clinical investigation is critically low.
  • The burden of medical school debt (averaging over $100,000) discourages many physicians from pursuing clinical investigation.

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation’s award offers solutions to these realities. The awardee will receive financial support for three years, as well as assistance with certain research costs such as the purchase of equipment. The Foundation will also retire up to $100,000 of any medical school debt still owed by the awardee.

The Clinical Investigator Award program is specifically intended to provide outstanding young physicians with the resources and training structure essential to becoming successful clinical investigators. The goal is to increase the number of physicians capable of moving seamlessly between the laboratory and the patient’s bedside in search of breakthrough treatments.

> Current and former Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators and their projects.

Definition of Clinical Research

For the purposes of this award, the Foundation’s definition of clinical research will follow the definition set out in “The NIH Director’s Panel on Clinical Research Report to The Advisory Committee to The NIH Director,” December, 1997.

a) Patient-oriented research: Research conducted with human subjects (or on material of human origin such as tissues, specimens and cognitive phenomena) for which an investigator directly interacts with human subjects. This area of research includes: patient-based studies of mechanisms of human disease, diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, clinical trials and development of new technologies for the detection, treatment and prevention of human cancers.
b) Epidemiologic and behavioral studies.
c) Outcomes research and health services research.

Excluded from this definition are in vitro studies that utilize human tissues but do not deal directly with patients.  In other words, clinical or patient-oriented research is research in which it is necessary to know the identity of the patient(s) from whom the cells or tissues under study are derived.

Preference will be given to research that adheres to the “Handshake Rule,” meaning that the physician will conduct research studies that directly involve patients.

Partnership with NIH and NCI

Damon Runyon has a novel partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which uniquely opens access to the NIH Clinical Center (CC) to Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators. The goal of this partnership is to use the special talent, expertise and resources of the participants to undertake pilot studies of specific diseases and to develop collaborative partnerships that accelerate clinical and translational cancer research, and thereby improve human health.

Potential opportunities for pilot partnership: 

1. Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award applicants may apply with a mentor or co-mentor from NCI or another NIH Institute. The proposal must identify the research to be done at and resources to be used at the NIH CC.
2. Current Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators may conduct a research project at the NIH CC in collaboration with an NIH tenured/tenure-track investigator. The Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator would be the PI or co-PI on the project.
3. Current Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators may request to use the special equipment or facilities at the NIH CC, which could provide opportunities for investigators that may not be possible in their home institutions. Examples are: obtaining research materials such as research PET ligands or products from the CC Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facilities, or accessing other non patient-related activities/facilities. No NIH scientist collaboration would be required.

Click here to view the press release announcing this partnership.

Please contact the Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer, Yung Lie, PhD with any questions regarding NIH/NCI partnership opportunities (212.455.0521).

Research, Training and Development

During each award year, the applicant must commit a minimum of 80% of their full-time professional effort to the conduct of research and research career development. [In rare unique circumstances, the CIA Review Committee may consider an applicant with a very modest reduction of 80% protected time if their Department Chair can provide a compelling reason explaining why a waiver of the 80% requirement should be granted, what percentage of effort will be guaranteed, and what safeguards will be put in place to make sure the individual’s research will not be compromised by their clinical/administrative activities.]

The Mentor’s role is to foster the development of the applicant’s knowledge, technical and analytical skills, and capacity for scientific inquiry in the field of human disease-oriented clinical and translational research.  The Mentor also acts as an advocate for the applicant at the departmental, institutional, and professional levels.

Selection and Review

The Clinical Investigator Award Committee (CIAC) will review applications and select awardees for approval by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation’s Board of Directors.  CIAC puts a premium on innovation and creativity when reviewing applications.

Selection Criteria

  • Excellence of the applicant and mentor.
  • Innovation, creativity, quality and originality of the research proposal.
  • The commitment of the mentor and institution to the development and training of the applicant as a skilled clinical research investigator.
  • Evidence of the applicant’s commitment to clinical translational and/or cancer prevention research and their ability to apply advances in laboratory research to clinical problems.
  • Importance of the proposed research to the field of cancer and/or cancer prevention.
  • Adherence of the proposal to the definition of clinical research as set out on this web page.
  • Adherence to the “Handshake Rule.”

Program Sponsors

Under the leadership of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, the Clinical Investigator Award is funded in part through Accelerating Cancer Cures, a collaboration of the biopharmaceutical industry, academia and young researchers formed to achieve breakthroughs against cancer by rebuilding the ranks of brilliant and committed clinical investigators who can translate science into cures.  Members include: Eli Lilly and Company, Celgene, Merck, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Pfizer and The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).  

Eligibility

  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident.
  • Each applicant must be nominated by his/her institution. Applications will only be accepted from institutions that have been invited to sumbit them by the Foundation (See list). Five (5) nominations per institution, including its affiliated schools, will be accepted. Because of its number of affiliated hospitals, Harvard Medical School may submit up to six (6) nominations.
  • The applicant must have received an MD or MD/PhD degree(s) from an accredited institution, completed his/her subspecialty training and be U.S. board-eligible.
  • The applicant must hold a valid, active U.S. medical license at the time of application.
  • The applicant must apply within the first four (4) years of his/her initial full faculty appointment (cut-off July 2011). Adjunct or acting positions are not eligible.
  • Candidates holding or awarded R01s at the time of application are not eligible to apply.
  • The applicant must commit to spending 80% of their time conducting research. [In rare unique circumstances, the CIA Review Committee may consider an applicant with a very modest reduction of 80% protected time if their Department Chair can provide a compelling reason explaining why a waiver of the 80% requirement should be granted, what percentage of effort will be guaranteed, and what safeguards will be put in place to make sure the individual’s research will not be compromised by their clinical/administrative activities.]
  • The applicant is required to apply in conjunction with a Mentor who is established in the field of clinical translational cancer research, cancer prevention and/or epidemiology and can provide the critical guidance needed during the period of the award.  No more than two Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators will be funded to work with the same Mentor at any given time.
  • Candidates may apply up to three times during this eligibility period. 

Funding

The $450,000 award will be for a period of three years. Funding in the amount of $150,000 will be allocated to the awardee’s institution each year for the support of the Clinical Investigator.  Funds are intended to be flexible and can be used for a variety of scientific needs including the Investigator’s stipend and/or fringe benefits (up to $100,000), salaries for professional and technical personnel, special equipment, supplies and other miscellaneous items required to conduct the proposed research.  No part of this grant can be used for indirect costs or institutional overhead.

Other Funding

Investigators may receive funding from other sources to support their research.  However, no other physician-scientist mentored career development award from a private source (non-federal government) may be held concurrently with the Clinical Investigator Award.

Physician-scientist career development awards from the federal government including the National Institutes of Health (e.g., K-08, K-12, K-23), the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are allowed.

Scientific or budgetary overlap with other funded projects is not allowed.  Therefore, it is critical that all current and pending grant support for your research be reported to the Foundation and the relationship of that support to the Damon Runyon funded project be explained.

Examples of awards that cannot be held concurrently with the Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award include (but are not limited to):

  • AACR- Career Development Award
  • American Cancer Society- Mentored Research Scholar Grants in Applied and Clinical Research
  • ASCO- Career Development Award
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund- Career Award for Medical Scientists
  • Doris Duke Charitable Foundation- Clinical Scientist Development Award
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute- Physician-Scientists Early Career Award, Early Career Scientist Competition
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society- Career Development Program, Scholar Awards

Please contact the Foundation with any questions regarding concurrent funding (212.455.0520).

Debt Repayment Program

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation will retire up to $100,000 of any qualifying medical school debt still owed by the awardee.  Download our debt repayment forms.

Reporting

SCIENTIFIC

The CIAC will be responsible for assessing the progress of the awardee.  Both the Clinical Investigator and mentor must submit signed annual progress reports due on the 15th day of the final month of each year of funding and signed final progress reports no later than 60 days after the completion of the award.  In addition to written reports, Clinical Investigators will present oral progress reports during the second year of the award.

Progress Reports Instructions
All reports are kept strictly confidential.  The goal of the reports is three-fold.  First, the reports serve as an auditing tool to monitor research progress and assure that the research is on target with the funded project.  Second, the reports allow the Foundation to perform regular program evaluations including issues related to mentoring, areas of study, concurrent funding, networking opportunities, career development, and award impact.  Third, the reports provide an opportunity to identify specific part(s) of the Clinical Investigators’ research (e.g., fundamental advance, clinical trial development, patient-related anecdote, publications) that the Foundation may highlight in various media outlets.  In fact, we would appreciate contact from Investigators at anytime to share such information.

The Investigator’s annual progress report includes:

  1. A completed questionnaire on the Investigator’s progress, institutional commitment and mentorship.
  2. A summary of research performed during the award year and evaluation of the results.  The summary should be technical, but targeted to a general scientific audience.  The summary should be sufficiently detailed such that the Clinical Investigator’s research activities over the award year are clearly described.  Figures and references can be included if appropriate.  If the research differs from the originally funded proposal, please provide an explanation.  The report must be signed by the Clinical Investigator and by the Mentor(s) and should not exceed four pages.
  3. A statement addressing where the Investigator is in advancing his/her research to translation.
  4. A one-paragraph lay summary, for the public, detailing the research performed over the award year.
  5. An up-to-date curriculum vitae including: a. A bibliography of all publications from the award year (please submit PDF copies of reprints). b. An updated list of current and pending funding. c. A list of conferences and seminars attended and presentations given during the award year. d. Changes in the Clinical Investigator’s responsibilities or title (tenure/promotion, leadership positions, consultant work, etc.).
  6. Brief comments on the most important accomplishment over the past year.  Also, please address any issues or concerns regarding career development, obstacles to success, or mentoring of physician-scientists to which the Foundation might respond.
  7. A brief description of the Clinical Investigator’s current research and office space allocation.
  8. A completed intellectual property disclosure form.

The Investigator’s final progress report includes:

  1. A completed questionnaire on the Investigator’s progress, institutional commitment and mentorship.
  2. A summary of research performed during the award and evaluation of the results.  The summary should be technical, but targeted to a general scientific audience.  The summary should be sufficiently detailed such that the Clinical Investigator’s research activities are clearly described. Figures and references can be included if appropriate.  If the research differs from the originally funded proposal, please provide an explanation.  The report must be signed by the Clinical Investigator and by the mentor(s) and should not exceed four pages.
  3. A statement addressing where the Investigator is in advancing his/her research to translation.
  4. A one-paragraph lay summary, for the public, detailing the accomplishments over the term of the award, including how the research has impacted the cancer field.
  5. An up-to-date curriculum vitae including: a. A bibliography of all publications resulting from the Clinical Investigator’s research (please submit PDF copies of reprints). b. An updated list of current and pending funding. c. A list of conferences and seminars attended and presentations given during the award year. d. Changes in the Clinical Investigator’s responsibilities or title (tenure/promotion, leadership positions, consultant work, etc.).
  6. A statement indicating how the award made a difference in the Clinical Investigator’s career.
  7. Brief comments on the most important accomplishment over the award term. Please address any issues or concerns regarding career development, obstacles to success, or mentoring of physician-scientists to which the Foundation might respond.
  8. A completed intellectual property disclosure form.

Annual Mentor’s Report
Summarizes the Investigator’s progress in becoming an independent clinical investigator in the field of human disease-oriented clinical and translational research.


FINANCIAL

The institution’s financial officer must maintain a separate account for the Clinical Investigator and this account must be available for audit by representatives of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.  None of the funds awarded can be used for indirect costs.  Reports of expenditures must be submitted to the Foundation within 30 days of the end of each award year.  Upon termination or expiration of the award, a final report of expenditures with the refund of any unexpended balance must be submitted within 30 days.

Annual Financial Expenditure Report Preparation Guidelines

> Please use the Foundation’s form for the report.

> Up to $100,000 may be used for the Investigator’s stipend and/or fringe benefits annually.

> No part of this award may be used for institutional overhead.

> Any balance carried forward from the previous year should be denoted on the form where indicated.  ($100,000 limit for stipend.)

> For funds covering stipend and/or fringe benefits for anyone other than the Investigator, please provide their names and position titles in the breakdown section or as an attachment.

> Itemize supplies by category (please attach additional pages, if necessary).

> Identify each item of equipment with an acquisition cost of more than $1,500 by name, date of purchase and price.

> If patient costs are requested, include under ‘Other Costs’.

> For travel, please provide the following details:

   -name and position title of attendee, if other than Investigator

   -name and location of scientific meeting or conference attended

   -dates of meeting/conference

   -use of funds- restricted to registration fee, lodging, meals, transportation (if by train or plane, must be coach class ticket only).

Award Policies and Procedures

Terms of the Award

All awards are made to the sponsoring institution for the support of the designated Clinical Investigator.  An award does not constitute an employer-employee relationship between the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and the awardee.

Accelerating Cancer Cures Annual Symposium

Each year a symposium will be held to highlight the achievements of the Clinical Investigators and promote scientific interactions with our Accelerating Cancer Cures sponsors (currently Eli Lilly and Company, Celgene, Genentech, Merck, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Pfizer, and The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).  All current Clinical Investigators are expected to attend.

Medical School Loan Repayment Program for Clinical Investigators

The Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award is designed to encourage and assist greater numbers of physicians to become clinical investigators and conduct patient-oriented research.  As part of this award program, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (the “Foundation”) will pay up to $100,000 of outstanding medical school loans of Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award recipients pursuant to the below policy.

Qualifying loans: Debt incurred for tuition and direct educational expenses during medical school and any interest thereon.  (Loans for general items or living expenses, e.g., housing, transportation, consumables, do not qualify for this program.)  Loans must be from a government entity, academic institution or commercial or chartered lending institution.

Eligibility and amount of support: Debt and interest thereon will be paid up to an amount equal to One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) in the aggregate over the award period with amounts not to exceed Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000) in any one-year period with the remaining balance paid at the completion of the award, if the following conditions are met:

(i) Participants in this program must be current holders of the Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award in good standing.
(ii) Participants in this program must submit documentation regarding the loans (e.g., receipts and supporting documents for tuition and directly related expenses, loan agreements, payment information) to the Foundation within one month of acceptance of a Clinical Investigator Award to determine whether they qualify for this program.  Documentation of loan status and payment information must be provided to the Foundation annually, no later than one month prior to the award renewal date, as a condition of continued participation.
(iii) Participants enrolled in NIH-sponsored loan repayment programs or any other debt relief programs must disclose the details of such agreements to the Foundation.

Payments: For each year of eligibility, the Foundation will pay directly to each lender an amount representing the total payments owed by the participant for all qualifying loans for that year up to an aggregate maximum of $30,000 (“Annual Debt Payments”).  If the participant has qualifying loans with annual payments in excess of $30,000, the Foundation, in its discretion, will determine which loans it will pay.  Upon the successful completion of the Clinical Investigator Award, the Foundation will pay the lending institutions the remaining balance on any outstanding loans up to a maximum of $100,000 total (“Final Payment”).  If the participant does not demonstrate a continuing commitment to clinical research upon the completion of the Clinical Investigator Award, the Foundation reserves the right to withhold the Final Payment.

Consolidated loans: The Foundation will make repayments on consolidated loans that were originally obtained for qualifying medical school expenses but not when they have been combined or refinanced with non-qualifying loans.  Participants must submit the loan agreement for consolidated loans as well as loan agreements for each underlying loan.

Leave without pay: Loan repayments will not be made during leaves of absence unless written permission is granted by the Foundation.

Obligations not qualifying for repayment: (i) Loans not obtained from a government entity, academic institution, or a commercial or other chartered lending institution such as loans from friends, relatives, or other individuals.  (ii) Delinquent loans, loans in default, loans not current in their payment schedule, or loans already repaid.  (iii) Late fees, penalty fees, additional interest charges, or collection costs.

Reimbursement for increased income tax liabilities: Loan repayments made to lenders represent taxable income to program participants.  This income will be reported annually to the IRS and may result in an increase in participants’ Federal, State, and Local tax liabilities.  To offset tax liability increases, the Foundation will approximate the added liability using the applicable tax rates each year and pay this amount directly to the participant at the time of each repayment (“Additional Tax Payment”).  For purposes of the foregoing, the assumed tax rate shall be determined by the Foundation, in its sole discretion, and may or may not equal the tax rate that actually applies to the participant.

Payback Agreement: If a participant in this program terminates his or her Clinical Investigator Award prior to the end of the award term, the Foundation shall, in its sole discretion, be entitled to require repayment by the participant of all Annual Debt Payments and Additional Tax Payments.  The Foundation reserves the right to waive this payback requirement if the participant continues in clinical investigation after early termination of the Clinical Investigator Award.  This payback will be paid over the same period of time and in the same amounts as the initial payments by the Foundation.

Publications and Presentations

Publications (including abstracts of presentations at scientific or clinical meetings) resulting from projects supported by the Foundation must carry the following acknowledgment: “[Name of Awardee] is a Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator supported (in part) by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (CI-#[__]).”

Awardees should identify themselves as Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators when presenting their work at scientific conferences or accepting professional honors or awards.  Download a copy of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation logo for inclusion in Power Point presentations or posters.

Transfers or Termination

Should the Clinical Investigator wish to discontinue the project, leave the designated institution or modify any agreement on the award letter, he/she must seek approval from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation in advance.  Failure to comply with this requirement will result in an immediate termination and may jeopardize any future awards to the institution by the Foundation.

All awardees must adhere to the terms of both our award statement and our invention policy.

> Award Acceptance Form
> Intellectual Property Disclosure Form
> Intellectual Property — Annual Update Form
> Financial Expenditure Report Form

The award will be granted for a period of three years and is subject to review and approval each year as set out under the terms and conditions.

Continuation Grants

All third-year Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators are eligible to apply for the Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award Continuation Grant, which is designed to provide two additional years of support to Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators who are approaching the end of their awards and need extra time and funding to complete a promising avenue of research, or initiate/continue a clinical trial.

> Further details on Continuation Grants

Contact Information:
Award Programs | 212.455.0520 | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)