The Harper Cancer Research Institute is launching a pilot fund program to promote research that addresses cancer health disparities. The goal of the HCRI Research to End Disparities (RED) Program is to generate key data to support an application to National Cancer Institute for basic research in cancer health disparities (links provided below) or an application to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.  Applications with a drug discovery/screening component will be co-funded by the Warren Center for Drug Discovery. Applications with a molecular/cellular diagnostics focus will be co-funded by the Institute for Precision Health.

Competitive applications to the RED program will clearly identify the NCI or NIMHD funding mechanism and the expected date of submission.

Application Deadline, Start Date, and End Date:

  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis

Formatting Requirements:

  • Single spaced
  • Arial 11 font or larger
  • Margins 0.6” or larger

Cover Page:

  • Project Title
  • Principle Investigator name, department, position/title, email, phone
  • Abstract of up to 20 lines of text
  • Provide a succinct description of the proposed project. Include the relevance to cancer disparities, the broad objectives and specific aims, and an overview of the research design and methods.
  • Note the NCI or NIMHD mechanism and expected date of submission.

Supplemental Data (include on cover page):

  • Human subjects:
  1. Yes ___ No ___
  2. Approval number ______________ Approval pending ________________
  • Vertebrate Animals:
  1. Yes ____ No ____
  2. Approval number ______________ Approval pending ________________

Research Plan (up to 3 pages):

  • Significance and Background: relevance to a cancer health disparity-specific research problem
  • Research Design: Overview of the conceptual framework, design, methods, analyses, and how the project will develop novel concepts and/or approaches. Emphasize how the application will generate preliminary data for the extramural application. The proposal must specify clearly defined targeted deliverables.


  • Provide a brief outline of a $20,000 budget
  • Funds cannot be used to support staff, trainee or PI salary

Additional Information:

  • References (no page limit)
  • Biosketch (up to 5 pages)

The NCI has recently released three RFPs of interest. For full application instructions, please see the links below. A summary of the research supported on these mechanisms, excerpted from the NCI program announcement, follows.

An increasing number of studies demonstrate that even when socioeconomic and access to care factors are accounted for, incidence and mortality gaps persist between racial/ethnic populations for some cancer types, which suggests a role for biological contributors. Such studies have included identification of ancestry-related differences in DNA, RNA, and/or protein expression that are associated with cancer risk and/or progression. Other studies have shown the presence of differential tumor microenvironment components among diverse racial/ethnic populations indicating a potential role for immunity and inflammation in contributing to cancer health disparities.

These complex biological factors may enhance understanding of the differences observed in cancer incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality rates among underrepresented populations. The NCI encourages investigations of such biological factors to increase our understanding of the mechanisms that play a role in cancer health disparities.

Research topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Causal drivers of early onset of certain cancer types in specific populations
  • Genetic/epigenetic mechanisms of cancer susceptibility differences among racial/ethnic populations, such as epigenetic drivers and or suppressors
  • Understanding how race/ethnicity impacts disease penetrance in individuals who inherit a cancer susceptibility gene
  • Understanding if race/ethnicity has a role in regression of precancerous lesions
  • Understanding if risk factors, including environmental exposures, differ across race/ethnicity to influence the development of precancerous lesions
  • Identifying cancer risk and early detection biomarkers among underrepresented populations
  • Examination of how stress impacts the progression of symptoms across different population groups
  • Identify underlying mechanisms of symptoms that are responsible for altering treatment regimens that increase the risk of mortality for racial/ethnic minority patients with cancer
  • Understand the process through which precision therapies improve symptom management to reduce health disparities
  • Similarities and differences in cancer metabolism (e.g. alterations in metabolic fuel sources, fatty acid synthesis, lipid metabolism, glycolysis, nutrient uptake) among racial/ethnic populations
  • New 3D cellular models, organoids, xenografts, patient-derived models, and microfluidic systems designed to recapitulate and investigate cancer health disparities
  • Epithelial and mesenchymal markers in circulating tumor cells in cancer patients of distinct racial/ethnic groups
  • Investigations of how social health disparities may cause adverse gene expression that confers increased cancer risk and/or aggressiveness
  • Role of the microbiota in cancer health disparities during tumorigenesis and cancer progression
  • Role of the oncogenic pathogens in the development of cancer health disparities during tumorigenesis and cancer progression in different populations groups
  • Computational analysis and modeling for predicting aggressive tumors in distinct racial/ethnic populations
  • Understanding the biologic mechanisms behind the differences in toxicity and symptoms in different population groups
  • Understanding of biological mechanisms of how stress impacts the progression of symptoms in racial/ethnic minority groups
  • Deciphering the mechanisms of accumulated exposure to environmental toxins across populations
  • Understanding the biological processes through which precision interventions improve symptom management to reduce cancer health disparities
  • Biological bases of differences among racial/ethnic populations in responses to cancer immunotherapies and/or development of immune-related adverse events induced by cancer immunotherapies.

Basic Research in Cancer Health Disparities (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
National Cancer Institute
Application Receipt Date(s): September 07, 2024

Basic Research in Cancer Health Disparities (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
National Cancer Institute
Application Receipt Date(s): September 07, 2024

Basic Research in Cancer Health Disparities (R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
National Cancer Institute
Application Receipt Date(s): September 07, 2024


Across the sciences, the skills required to analyze large data sets, build statistical models, and simulate complex processes are becoming increasingly critical. For example, genomic data sets may consist of millions of sequencing reads from hundreds or thousands of samples. In ecology and earth sciences, researchers are applying new methods for modeling ecological data and assimilating data and models to improve forecasts of ecological and environmental change. In systems biology, scientists are modeling the emergent properties of interacting genes, proteins, cells, and tissues. All of these research areas depend on computational fluency. 

The REACT program (Rapid Exposure to Advanced Computational Training) is a short-term initiative to support graduate students to receive the latest training in computational tools and techniques in their field. REACT is a joint effort between the Environmental Change Initiative (ECI), the Eck Institute for Global Health (EIGH), the Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility (GBCF), the Center for Research Computing (CRC) and the Harper Cancer Institute (HCRI). REACT will provide up to $1,300 to cover student tuition, registration, and board required to attend nationally-recognized workshops that provide the latest training in computational approaches.


  • The applicant must be a PhD student or thesis Masters student enrolled at Notre Dame.
  • The student's advisor/PI must be a member in good standing with either the Environmental Change Initiative, the Eck Institute for Global Health, Notre Dame’s Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility, the Center for Research Computing, or the Harper Cancer Institute. Students should check with their advisors if they are not sure of their PI’s affiliations.
  • Students attending workshops may be asked to share the knowledge they gain with local working groups, journal clubs, classes, or a symposium of fellow REACT awardees.
  • REACT will cover costs for registration and tuition up to $1,300. REACT does not currently cover research expenses.

Application instructions

  1. Applications are considered on a rolling basis. All applications should be submitted online. Questions can be directed towards Beth Archie (, Mike Pfrender (pfrender.1@nd.ed), Nydia Morales-Soto (, Alex hardy (, or Andy Bullock (
  2. Applicants will be required to:
  • Create an account with Submittable in order to submit your online application.
  • Provide information on the workshop they plan to attend.
  • Explain the computational skill(s) they will learn at the workshop and how those skills will help their research.
  • Provide information on the costs for workshop registration, tuition, and room and board. REACT provides up to $1,300 to cover these costs, including travel.
  • Provide information on their admissions status in regards to the workshop (e.g. the student has not yet applied, the student has applied and the application is pending, or the student has applied and has been admitted to the workshop. If the latter, students will provide evidence of acceptance.)
  • Upload a short letter from the student’s sponsoring advisor/PI that states:  
  1. That the PI supports the student’s attendance at the workshop
  2. That the PI will help pay for any travel costs not covered by other sources
  3. Which of the following ND Centers, Initiatives, and Institutes the PI regularly affiliates with: ECI, EIGH, GBCF, CRC, or HCRI.

Grant Overview

The Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) is pleased to
announce the availability of travel grants to support Graduate Students and
Post-Doctoral Fellows traveling to academic conferences. Each grant is worth


  • Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows must be presenting at the conference for which they are requesting funding
  • Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows must also present their projects at HCRI Research Day
  • Graduate Students' and Post-Doctoral Fellows' participation in HCRI sponsored events will be taken into consideration when reviewing travel grant requests

Application Instructions


Application Deadline and Start Date:

  • Applications
    are reviewed on a rolling basis

Application Requirements:

  • Formatting

    • Single

    • Arial
      11 font or larger

    • Margins
      0.6" or larger

    • Assemble
      all sections below into a single PDF for submission

  • Cover
    Page (1 page)
    • Conference title, date, location
    • Applicant name, institution, department,
      position/title, email
    • PI name, institution, department,
      position/title, email    

  • Conference Overview (1 page maximum) should include:
    • Provide a description of the conference and the
      research that the candidate (Graduate Student or Post-Doctoral Fellow) will be
  • Letter of support/recommendation from candidate’s

Harper Cancer Research Institute