Skip to main content

ACS & ASCO are Stronger Together: Cancer.Net content is now available on



Research We Fund: Extramural Discovery Science

AHEAD (Advancing Health Equity and Addressing Cancer Disparities) Awards


The American Cancer Society (ACS) is committed to improving the lives of cancer patients and their families by enhancing access to quality cancer care and ensuring that all people have an equal chance to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer.

Toward this goal, ACS is announcing AHEAD (Advancing Health Equity and Addressing Cancer Disparities) Awards intended to fund pilot, first-in-field, innovative strategies that increase quality cancer screening, clinical trials—and cancer care closer to home.

Mark Your Calendar

Webinar: Email the Program Contact to request a recording of the webinar

Application Deadline: April 1 & October 15

Application Review: June and January

Grant Activation: January and July

Program Contact:


In this era of precision oncology, sophisticated technologies (including ’omic-based risk assessment, multi-cancer early-detection tests, and advancements in targeted and immune therapies) continue to drive progress against cancer. However, many people across the United States who need more personalized care are not benefiting from these innovations.

As the ACS boldly strives to end cancer as we know it for everyone, we recognize that a truly transformational impact on health equity in oncology requires investing in early-stage, and perhaps unconventional, approaches for meeting people where they live.

The spirit of our AHEAD Awards highly aligns with the Cancer Moonshot goal—to make the cancer experience less burdensome for patients and their families and caregivers. This special funding opportunity was inspired, in part, by successes made during the COVID-19 pandemic to pivot the delivery of medical care away from major health centers into communities and even the comforts of home. The COVID-19 pandemic also highlighted the value of facilitating home care in innovative ways, especially for immunocompromised cancer patients and other vulnerable populations. 

Scientific Scope

AHEAD Awards will fund exploratory, novel research studies that seek to improve access to quality cancer screening and/or cancer care by bringing technologies to individuals rather than requiring travel to healthcare facilities. A scientist's proposed research may break new ground or strategize a new application of existing technologies or new intervention. We encourage  the testing of high-risk, high-reward pilot projects to maximize the likelihood for breakthrough research and critical impact.

Examples of possible research areas:

  • Digital technologies to democratize clinical trials
  • Biometrics and wearables
  • Remote imaging and at-home testing
  • Novel strategies for telehealth
  • Remote and at-home cancer screening
  • Innovative modes of delivering at-home care

Eligibility and Budget 

The principal investigator must:

  • Have a doctoral degree
  • Work at a US academic institution or eligible non-profit organization
  • Have an independent faculty appointment (or equivalent position)

Discovery Boost Grants are funded up to $135,000 per year for up to 2 years, plus 10% indirect costs. The maximum allowable budget is $297,000 for a 2-year project period.

All application materials are located on proposalCENTRAL under the ACS Discovery Boost Grant funding mechanism.

Expected Outcomes

This funded exploratory/developmental research is expected to inform larger feasibility studies with the potential to advance health equity; build trust between patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers; and improve cancer outcomes for all.