Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Research Center of Excellence Pilot Grant Program


The mission of Rutgers Cancer Institute, New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, is to conduct cutting-edge research and translate those findings into new and improved therapies. The New Jersey Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Research Center of Excellence (NJ PHORCE) at the Rutgers Cancer Institute was created in 2021, supported by the State of New Jersey, to ensure that children, adolescents and young adults in New Jersey with cancer or blood disorders can benefit from research-driven improvements in treatment.

Our vision is to improve outcomes for children with cancer or blood disorders through a broad research program. Areas of interest related to pediatric cancer and blood disorders include, but are not limited to, disease biology, novel therapeutic approaches, biomarkers of treatment response or toxicity, symptom reduction, supportive care for children or their families, outcome disparities, and survivorship care. Projects may involve any type of research, including basic laboratory or translational research, clinical trials, retrospective reviews, data analyses, or education. Quality improvement projects will not be funded by this mechanism.


  • Faculty at any Rutgers campus are eligible. Assistant Professors who are less than two years from a first post-training appointment must include a letter of support from a Chair or primary mentor.
  • Students at any Rutgers campus (undergraduates, medical students, graduate students, pharmacy students) and trainees (residents, fellows, and postdoctoral fellows) are eligible, but must include a letter of support from a Chair or primary faculty mentor.

Review Process

Applications will be screened by a standing committee appointed by the Director of the NJ PHORCE. Those of high potential will undergo an NIH-style review, with a Primary and Secondary Reviewer. Each application will be assigned an overall impact score ranging from 1 to 9, based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to pediatric cancer or blood disorders
  • Scientific significance
  • Innovation
  • Approach
  • Investigator(s)
  • Potential to lead to extramural funding

Preliminary data is not required, but will be considered if presented in the application, particularly where the data demonstrate feasibility of the approach.


Awards for these pilot projects are expected to be up to $50,000 per project, to be used in one year. In unusual cases, larger budgets up to a maximum of $100,000 will be considered, with appropriate justification. The budget for these pilot projects should not support any faculty salary or fringe. The budget may be used for research personnel (e.g. research associates, laboratory technicians, graduate student stipends, post-doctoral fellows), database access, research materials, equipment, core facility fees, domestic travel to scientific meetings, and publication costs. Other research related expenses will be considered with appropriate justification. No institutional overhead will be provided. 

Final funding decisions will be made by the Director of the Center, based on the review committee’s impact scores and funds available. When considering proposals with equal impact scores, priority will be given to proposals from junior faculty, those who are new to research related to pediatric cancer or blood disorders, and applicants who identify as individuals underrepresented in the life sciences, as defined by the NIH.

Diversity Statement

The New Jersey Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Research Center of Excellence (NJ PHORCE) is committed to promoting gender equality and increasing diversity, in all its forms, throughout our programs. Applicants who identify as individuals underrepresented in the life sciences as defined by the NIH are strongly encouraged to apply. During the review process, reviewers will be reminded that numerous studies have demonstrated that implicit bias can substantially affect outcomes in review processes, and that acknowledging the existence of unconscious or implicit biases can mitigate their potential negative impact.

Application Process

1. Application structure:

  • Face page with the following elements: project title, investigator(s) (name, degree, title, academic rank, department, email address). Name of Chair, Division Chief, or primary research mentor with contact information. If animal work or clinical trials are involved, indicate IACUC or IRB approval number or indicate “pending”.
  • Biosketch for principal investigator and key collaborator(s). Three page maximum for each.
  • Abstracts (one page). Scientific abstract and lay abstract, highlighting the impact on pediatric cancer or blood disorders.
  • Research proposal. Six pages maximum (length is not a scoring criterion; briefer proposals will be appreciated by reviewers), including the following elements: hypothesis(es) being tested, specific aim(s), background and significance, statement of relevance to pediatric cancer or blood disorders, innovation, research approach including any preliminary data, plans for future research based on pilot results, and plans for application for extramural funding.
  • References. No page limit.
  • Budget. One page. The NIH template may be used, but there is no formal format requirement.
  • Budget justification. One page. If the investigators hold extramural funding, indicate any overlap in funded projects with proposed aims.
  • (optional) Applicant statement, not to exceed one page. Applicants may choose to elaborate on what they anticipate gaining from this award, its impact on their career development, and their motivation for conducting research related to pediatric cancer or blood disorders. In addition, applicants may choose to indicate if they identify as an individual underrepresented in the life sciences, as defined by the NIH (…).
  • Any supplemental material – e.g. letters of support from Chair or primary mentor, if required (see eligibility, above).

2. Application mechanics

  • All the elements of the proposal should be assembled into a single pdf document for submission.
  • Proposals can be submitted electronically, by email to or at this link.

Post-award Requirements

  • We anticipate that funds will be distributed by Spring. Disbursed funds are expected to be used within one calendar year. One no-cost extension will be considered with appropriate justification.
  • A brief progress report (one page) will be requested halfway through the funding period.
  • A final progress report must be submitted no more than 15 months after receipt of funds. This report can be up to three pages and should indicate progress on specific aim(s), any manuscripts or presentations, and any submitted proposals for additional funding.
  • Successful applicants are invited to reapply competitively for a second year of funding for projects with substantial progress that are not yet completed.
  • Any presentations or manuscripts reporting on results of the pilot project must include the following acknowledgement: “This project was supported by the NJ PHORCE at the Rutgers Cancer Institute.”