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Directory at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Search or browse for cancer center researchers, leadership and key staff by last name, research program or department.

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Funding Opportunities

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center regularly solicits applications for pilot funding to support basic, translational, clinical or collaborative cancer research. Pilot funds allow investigators to collect preliminary data to support an application for independent research support through extramural, peer-reviewed funding. Over the past five years, the Cancer Center awarded $4.1 million to fund 98 pilot projects. This investment led to the acquisition of more than $41 million in extramurally funded grants – a 985 percent return on investment.

Calls for proposals are distributed throughout the year by email, online, and in campus publications. Award amounts and submission deadlines vary. All pilot project awards are funded for one-year periods.

For more information, contact us at

Funding Sources

Source Eligibility Funding Cycle Amount Principal Investigator
American Cancer Society-Institutional Research Grants (ACS-IRG) Open to junior faculty in any school/department at Vanderbilt University Spring & Fall up to $30,000 Scott Hiebert, Ph.D
Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center members only Variable up to $35,000  Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.
Breast SPORE Tenured and tenure-track faculty at Vanderbilt or Meharry Medical College with membership in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Variable

up to $50,000

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.; Ingrid Mayer, M.D., M.S.C.I.
GI SPORE Tenured and tenure-track faculty at Vanderbilt or Meharry Medical College with membership in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Variable, twice yearly up to $50,000 Robert Coffey, M.D.
Thoracic Program Tenured and tenure-track faculty at Vanderbilt or Meharry Medical College with membership in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Variable $25,000 to $50,000 Pierre Massion, M.D.
Hematology Helping Hands Fund (HHHF) Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center members only Variable $10,000 to $20,000 Madan Jagasia, M.D.
VICC Ambassadors Junior faculty at Vanderbilt Fall $50,000 Scott Hiebert, Ph.D. 


American Cancer Society-Institutional Research Grants

The American Cancer Society (ACS)-Institutional Research Grant (IRG) is the major source of support at Vanderbilt University for young investigators building cancer research programs. These funds provide seed money to support junior faculty members with an interest in cancer research who do not have national grant support of their own or who have not received prior support from the IRG. The ACS defines junior faculty as investigators at the rank of assistant professor or equivalent who are eligible to apply as a principal investigator for grant support from national agencies. Eligible investigators must be within six years of their first independent faculty appointment. Awards are made for a one-year project period and the maximum allocation is limited to $30,000. If sufficient progress has been made toward the project goals, IRG support may be renewed for an additional year. Funds are available to all schools at Vanderbilt University.

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Cancer Center Support Grant Pilot Projects

Funding provided by the Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) supports several types of pilot projects (1) highly innovative pilot projects focusing on proof-of-concept or translational research; (2) preliminary collaborative investigations that lead to multi-investigator grant awards or clinical trial; (3) projects that closely align with the Cancer Center's strategic plan and enhance key initiatives; and (4) pilot funding for junior investigators to jump-start independent projects or for more senior investigators looking to study a novel idea derived from discovery.

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SPORE Pilot Projects

The Breast SPORE Developmental Research Program provides pilot funding to promote excellent translational research in breast cancer. These funds allow early, high-risk research to move solid basic science findings toward clinical application, as well as the migration of provocative clinical observations back to the laboratory in order to understand their mechanistic basis. Main criteria for selection and funding of developmental (pilot) projects include scientific merit, relevance to mammary biology and/or breast cancer, collaboration and potential for extramural peer-reviewed funding. There also is an emphasis on utilization of emerging technologies and on young investigators.

The GI SPORE Developmental Research Program solicits applications twice yearly from investigators at Vanderbilt and Meharry Medical College. Proposals are reviewed for scientific merit and the likelihood of leading to extramural funding. Special emphasis is placed on attracting young investigators into GI cancer research, high risk/high gain projects, and emerging technologies and their application to GI cancer research. Award amounts of up to $50,000 per project.

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Thoracic Program

The Thoracic Program provides pilot funding for the conduct of basic, translational, or clinical research on the cause, prevention, detection, control, or treatment of lung cancer. Funds support projects from individual investigators or collaborative teams. Original cancer-related projects with the potential to develop into independent R01 grants are encouraged. Current Pilot Project awardees are eligible to apply for an additional year of funding. Grants from $25,000 to $50,000 in total costs are awarded for a one-year period.

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Hematology Helping Hands Fund

The Hematology Helping Hands Fund was started in 2007 at the request of philanthropic donors to provide financial aid for patients undergoing stem cell transplant. The program has evolved over the last eight years and now allows for 25 percent of the funds to be used for research projects. RFAs are distributed to cancer center members. Applications are peer reviewed and awards in the range of $10,000 to $20,000 per awardee are granted. In addition, important pilot projects which are aligned with cancer center mission and felt to be at high yield for federal funding are supported.

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VICC Ambassadors

The VICC Ambassadors are the next generation of philanthropists committed to winning the battle against cancer by awarding Discovery Grants to promising young researchers at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Discovery Grants allow skilled researchers to pursue exciting discoveries in basic and clinical science—aiding our understanding of disease processes and leading to better methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment. For Vanderbilt physicians and scientists this funding not only yields early results, it helps develop the ideas that grow to large federally funded projects aimed at transformative breakthroughs in care. Three grants of $50,000 each are awarded every fall.

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Other Funding Resources

Membership Information

Membership in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center provides new opportunities for interactions and collaborations with our outstanding cancer researchers and physician scientists. As a member, you will be invited to attend and/or participate in the numerous activities the cancer center sponsors including our seminar series, annual retreats, and events sponsored by the Research Programs. You will also have access to several intramural funding opportunities to help support pilot efforts leading to extramural peer review funding including Cancer Center Support Grant Pilot Projects Grants, Discovery Grants, various Specialized Programs of Research Excellence pilot studies grants, and faculty Foundation Grants.

Becoming a VICC Member

Criteria for Membership

Membership is open to faculty of Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University who meet the following requirements: 

  • Faculty rank of research assistant professor or above
  • Conducts funded, peer-reviewed, cancer-related basic, clinical or population-based research
  • Makes significant, ongoing contributions to cancer center programs through participation in collaborative research, education, cancer prevention, cancer control or cancer patient care activities

Types of Membership

Full program members are typically assigned to only one research program. Members assigned to more than one research program must have separate cancer-related activities in each program, usually funded by separate peer-reviewed research grants.

Non-programmatically aligned members significantly participate in or contribute to the research programs, organizational infrastructure and administrative functions of the cancer center but may not have active peer-reviewed cancer research or patient care activities (e.g., shared resource directors, department chairs, VUMC executive leadership).

Adjunct research membership is open to faculty at our affiliate, Baptist Memorial Health Cancer Center (BCC), in Memphis. 

How to Apply for Membership

Applicants must complete an online application and upload a current CV and documentation of "Other Support." The Research Program Leaders (RPL) committee reviews applications monthly and makes recommendations for membership and program assignment to the Director, who has ultimate authority in appointing members. Membership is reviewed annually by the RPL and the Director.

If you do not have a VUnetID and would like to apply for membership, please contact Julia Schaum, Associate Director of Research Administration at or 615-936-1782.

Membership Resources



The Cancer Health Outcomes and Control Program aims to achieve the goal of reducing the cancer burden through:

Establishing and further developing population and community-based resources for research into prevention and short and long-term outcomes

Identifying environmental, sociobehavioral and genetic factors that affect short- and long-term outcomes

Understanding the scope of and developing interventions to prevent or ameliorate adverse long-term patient-centered outcomes following cancer diagnosis and treatment

Assessing the magnitude and determinants of disparities in cancer control and outcomes associated with age, race, gender, geography and other group characteristics and developing interventions to decrease such disparities


Investigators in the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program concentrate on four main themes: 

Identifying genetic factors linked to cancer susceptibility

Evaluating the impact of dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors on cancer risk

Identifying genetic and lifestyle factors that predict cancer survival and recurrence

Understanding the differences in cancer risk and mortality in different populations


The Gastrointestinal Cancer Program supports basic, translational and clinical research across all GI cancer types:

Determining the etiology and pathogenesis of gastrointestinal cancers

Developing biomarkers and imaging techniques to improve detection and predict efficacy of current and novel therapeutics for gastrointestinal cancers

Developing and studying novel laboratory models of cancer to improve understanding of human cancers

Translating laboratory discoveries into clinical investigations


Members of the Genome Maintenance Program have expertise across all of the major processes involved in the faithful maintenance and expression of the genetic material:

How environmental agents and the products of natural cellular metabolism cause mutations and lead to cancer

How errors in cell division can lead to genomic instability and cancer

How the appropriate “packaging” of DNA maintains genome integrity and gene expression

How DNA damage response pathways are activated and how they function to maintain genome integrity and suppress cancer

How DNA damage is repaired and how defects in these processes lead to cancer

How the control of gene expression is central to normal cellular homeostasis


With the goal of understanding how complex interactions between tumor cells and their host contribute to cancer, the Host-Tumor Interactions program focuses on four specific research themes:

Understanding how new blood vessels form to feed tumors – and finding ways to block these processes

Identifying molecules involved in communication between tumor cells and their cellular and structural microenvironment

Uncovering how inflammation triggers and promotes cancer

Integrating knowledge about host-tumor interactions to understand how tumors evolve in a changing microenvironment


The Signal Transduction and Chemical Biology Research Program is organized into four groups with common research interests:

Identifying how changes in key cell cycle proteins help tumor cells escape the typical response of cell death and lead to uncontrollable growth

Finding and developing compounds that inhibit key drivers of cancer formation

Combining ‘big data’ experimental approaches to understand the changes in signaling networks that drive cancer formation

Determining how cancer-initiating stem cells continuously renew and seed distant sites to promote metastasis, and understanding the role of these cells in resistance to chemotherapies