Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Cancer Research New Funding Opportunities


SynthX/Duncan Cancer Center Seed Award Proposals


SynthX and the Duncan Cancer Center announce two-three seed awards of $80,000: 50% toward RICE and 50% toward BCM. $60,000 will be awarded in Year 1. If a multi-PI grant is submitted within one year of the seed grant award, the remaining $20,000 will be extended. All teams wishing to compete must submit a proposal according to the requirements and guidelines set forth below.

Proposal Timeline
Nov. 18, 2023Call for proposals announced
Jan. 31, 2024Proposal submission deadline
April 1, 2024Notice of awards
April 1, 2024Earliest Project start date

Proposal Submission

All proposals should be submitted via email to: synthx@rice.edu by close of business on Jan. 31, 2024.

Review Process

Reviewers will be identified from the community based on the scope of the proposed research projects and availability of suggested reviewers while avoiding any potential conflicts of interest. Panels will also include external reviewers; teams can submit 3 names of Suggested reviewers with their proposal.

Note: Scientific disciplines covered by submissions to this program range across a spectrum within the biomedical sciences. It is recommended that submissions are tailored to both experts in the submission’s area of research as well as scientists with expertise in other disciplines within the biomedical sciences.

Selection Criteria

The selection criteria include originality and quality of the proposed research, anticipated level of impact of the work proposed, novelty and interdisciplinary nature of the collaboration, strategy for integration of the team, and potential for long-term sustainability from competitive funding sources.

The final funding decision will be made by SynthX/DLDCCC review committee. Committee members are not eligible to apply.

Team Eligibility

Eligible teams must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  1. Teams must include at least one PI from the Rice SynthX Center and at least one PI from the Duncan Cancer Center.
  2. Limit one proposal per person: faculty can be either PI or co-PI on only one proposal.
  3. PIs who receive the seed fund are not eligible to receive another seed fund within two years.
  4. Projects requiring IRB approval will not receive funding until the approval is received.

Full Proposal Guidelines

All proposals should be single-spaced with 1-inch square margins, a minimum 11 pt font (including figure captions) and contain the following sections:

Cover page (one page)

Proposal title, names of all faculty, their department(s), their institutional affiliation(s), their administrative contact(s), and the contact information for 3 potential reviewers.

Scientific abstract

Include a one-paragraph scientific abstract (limit 400 words) that provides:

  • A clear description of the area(s) of research that will be the focus of the application;
  • The planned cross-disciplinary approach; and
  • The specific objective of the project.

Lay abstract

Include a one-paragraph lay abstract (limit 200 words) that describes the proposal in terms accessible to a non-scientist that can be used in press releases and communications to the community at large.

Research plan

With a maximum of four (4) pages for the first four items below, including illustrations and tables, the following elements are required:

  1. Specific Aims
  2. Background and Significance
  3. Preliminary Studies/Rationale
  4. Research Design and Methods (including a timetable and milestones for the 2-year project period)
  5. References (not included in the 4-page limit)

Collaborative interactions and future plans

Include one-page summary that describes:

  • How the project represents a new collaborative research initiative;
  • The team’s planned cross-disciplinary approach;
  • The perceived novelty and impact of the proposed collaborative research; and
  • Plan(s) for seeking external funding to continue the proposed work.

Investigator biosketches (no page limit)

Provide a biosketch (NIH format) for each faculty member. The biosketch for the principal investigator should be placed first.

Budget and budget justification

Each investigator on the collaborative team should submit a preliminary budget and budget justification for review consideration. The combined budgets should add to the full award amount (up to $80,000 total). See the “Budget Guidelines” section for further information. Budgets and justification are only used for review purposes. Budgets will be finalized upon notice of award in compliance with the investigators’ home institutions.

Budget Guidelines

  • Budget covers both years of award (i.e., you do not need to separate Year 1 from Year 2).
    • 50% goes to Rice and 50% goes to BCM.
    • $60,000 will be awarded in Year 1.
    • Must submit a multi-PI grant within one year of the seed grant award for the remaining $20,000 to be extended.
  • Funds may be requested for:
    • Supplies
    • Equipment (up to $5,000)
    • Travel (up to $2,000)
    • Stipends
    • Research staff salaries (graduate students, postdoctoral associates, technical staff, non-tenure track research faculty)
  • Equipment purchases should be limited to $5,000 unless the equipment is absolutely necessary to meet the aims presented. Justification should be provided.
  • Costs that are not allowed:
    • Indirect (F/A) costs
    • Salary for the PI and/or co-investigators
    • Tuition remission
  • Maximum budget is $80,000 for duration of two (2) years.
  • Under exceptional circumstances, a 6-month no-cost extension may be requested with justification (maximum funding remains $40,000).
  • If significant progress is not demonstrated by the end of the first year after review, then unused funds must be returned to the program.
  • If, during the proposal or award period, the status of a faculty member or collaboration changes, the PI(s) must immediately notify us at synthx@rice.edu.

Post-Award Requirements

  • Reports: Grant recipients are required to submit a mid-term progress report (Year 1) and a final report to SynthX and the Duncan Cancer Center (Year 2). Annual summary (e.g., new publication, grants, and others) may be requested for up to five (5) years post-award.
  • Proposal Reviewer: Grant recipients are required to participate in the subsequent years’ review processed, as needed.
  • Other Requirements: Grant recipients may be expected to present their research outcomes to SynthX, the Duncan Cancer Center, or other interested parties and to provide additional information as requested. This information would include a summary of the project as well as impact of the research within the larger community, such as the annual SynthX/Duncan Cancer Center Retreat.

Acknowledgments: SynthX Center and the Duncan Cancer Center must be acknowledged in all publications or presentations associated with or arising from an award.


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