FAQs: Applying for a Research Grant from the American Cancer Society

What types of research does the American Cancer Society fund?

The American Cancer Society (ACS) funds a wide range of investigator-initiated cancer research. We believe that the best science will provide the greatest benefit. That’s why the goal of our extramural grant program is to fund the most creative, innovative, and promising projects from the applications we receive, for any type of cancer and within any part of the research continuum. That means researchers may submit proposals for any type of cancer research project. Our portfolio reflects this diverse scope

What are the funding rates for ACS grants?

The funding rates represent the percentage of applicants who are funded out of the entire pool of applications. ACS calculates funding rates, also called grant paylines, for each type of grant (the grant mechanism). Each grant category may include applications associated with any of the Extramural Research program areas (except for Health Professional Training in Cancer Control, which has its own set of applicants). For the past 4 years the average funding rates for our main grant types were:

Grant Mechanism 2014-2016 2017
Research Scholar Grants 9% 13%
Mentored Research Scholar Grants 13% 9%
Postdoctoral Fellowships 14% 19%

How does the ACS help early-career scientists secure funding for cancer research?

At the American Cancer Society, we’ve built the reputation for giving a great deal of support to grant applicants through feedback, information sharing, and opportunities to resubmit applications. That’s a reputation we’re proud of and committed to maintaining. Here’s an overview of what we provide for every applicant:

  • Detailed written critiques from 2 scientific reviewers
  • The opportunity to schedule a one-on-one phone meeting (using convenient scheduling software) with the associated ACS program director. This call allows applicants to gain additional insights about their written critiques, the peer review process, and strategies and tips about resubmitting a grant. The almost 75% of applicants who make this call consider it valuable to their career development.
  • Virtual and face-to-face grantsmanship activities facilitated by ACS program directors.
  • Our commitment to helping early-career researchers secure funding, whether it’s through the ACS and/or another funding source.

Besides the funding, what other benefits are there from receiving an ACS grant?

The perks of being an ACS grantee are numerous, extend beyond the scientific community, and continue during the grant term and long after it ends.

  • The biennial Harry and Elsa Jiler American Cancer Society Professor and Fellows Conference encourages networking, supports career development, and provides an intellectually stimulating environment to facilitate exchange of information and promote collaboration among active
  • The Mission Boost Grant. Only those awarded an American Cancer Society grant are eligible for these grants, which support select current and past ACS grantees specifically for the translation of their research to human testing.
  • Diverse opportunities to engage in the community. Including sharing their research and aspirations with patients, families, and donors.

Is it true that it requires 3 submissions to get an ACS Research Scholar Grant?

No. However, as expected for early-career investigators entering a competitive funding arena, few applications are funded on the first submission. ACS staff dedicate significant time and energy to helping young investigators improve grantsmanship, and our numbers clearly convey a mutually beneficial return on that investment, as shown from these 2013 to 2016 statistics:

  • 13% of Research Scholar Grants (RSGs) were funded after 1 resubmission
  • 28% of RSGs were funded after the 2nd (and final) resubmission
  • 92% of the time when 2nd resubmissions were funded, applicants’ overall score from the peer review committee improved to a 1.0 to 1.5 “outstanding”