Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how the American Cancer Society (ACS) pays for cancer research.
Some people may think that the ACS is an endowed organization, underwritten in perpetuity by a single wealthy benefactor, person, family, or corporation—not true! We’re also not funded by the US government. We’re primarily funded from personal donations—like yours. In 2022, you helped us invest more than $145 million in cancer research. Since 1946, we've invested more than $5 billion in research grants to the best scientists across the country. Your donations also support vital patient services and programs.
Yes. We have more than 50 full-time researchers on staff in Population Science and Surveillance & Health Equity Science. These experts:
Yes. Grants through our Extramural Discovery Science department support more than 1000 researchers at nearly 200 nonprofit institutions across the country for a wide range of cancer-related disciplines. We focus on providing funds to early-career investigators to foster the next generation of cancer research. We currently support more than 620 active grants with over $423 million in investments.
Yes. Investigators can submit grant proposals for any type of cancer as well as for any type of research. They may focus on the causes of cancer; how best to prevent, detect, and treat cancer; as well as how to help improve the quality of life for people living with cancer.
Sometimes. Because we allow researchers to choose the topic for their grant proposals, the number of applications we get for each cancer type is largely reflective of the number of researchers who are working in that area. And, certain areas of cancer research draw more researchers than others. This may be because researchers perceive that one area has more resources or that working on an exciting new breakthrough could give them a greater chance to have a significant impact.
Each grant application goes through an extensive scientific peer-review process. Our peer-review committees include third-party scientists, clinicians, and volunteer members called stakeholders. This research funding strategy has helped support numerous important discoveries and some of the brightest researchers, including 50 Nobel Prize winners to date.
About 1,000 new research grant applications come in each year. Of these received applications, approximately 10 to 15% are approved for funding. Plus, our peer review committees always recommend that more applications be funded than we have the funds to cover. These “Pay-If” applications can be, and often are, subsidized by donors who wish to support research that would not otherwise be funded. For instance, in 2022, $3.2 million additional donations helped finance 24 “Pay-If” applications.