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Research We Fund: Extramural Discovery Science

TheoryLab Collaborative (TLC) Grant


The TheoryLab Collaborative (TLC) Grant mechanism is intended to provide pilot grant support for collaborative cancer research projects between two members of the American Cancer Society (ACS) research ecosystem, including current and former grantees and ACS intramural scientists. Our goal is to invest in our ACS scientific community to enable the formation of new and interdisciplinary collaborations and test out a new idea or concept. The proposed project can focus anywhere along the cancer research continuum but must be collaborative and interdisciplinary.

We highly encourage investigators to form new collaborations; current or former collaborators may apply for a TLC Grant, but their proposed project must be different from their previous collaborative project(s). In addition, co-PI's may be at the same institution but must be in a different department/discipline.

We want the TLC Investigators to engage with the TheoryLab Community. Grantees will give a virtual presentation for the TheoryLab community ~6 months after the grant ends, detailing the outcomes, challenges, and future work of the project. We encourage grantees to post project updates in TheoryLab.

Budget and Term

The total award is $61,200 for a 1-year period. Both PIs receive $600 for travel, and the remaining $60,000 can be split between the co-PIs at their discretion. Indirect costs are not allowed.

Travel Award: The purpose is for the two PIs to meet face-to-face to generate ideas and advance their collaboration. If the co-PIs are at the same institution, these funds can go toward attending a conference, workshop, etc., by the PIs or a member of the team working on the project.

If a co-PI is an ACS scientist in the Surveillance and Health Equity Science or Population Science departments, they cannot receive salary support from an ACS grant. If a scientist is at a federal agency, or in industry, they cannot receive grant funds or salary support. In the latter instance, the total budget allowed is $40,600 which is restricted to the co-PI at an academic or eligible non-profit institution.

Have an idea but need a collaborator?

We do require that BOTH co-PIs on the project be part of the ACS scientific ecosystem. Most of the time both co-PIs are current or former ACS grantees (see eligibility details below). If you have an idea for a project, but you don't have an eligible co-PI to work with, we can help!

  1. All current or former grantees have access to TheoryLab, a hub for our ACS research community. Use the "Search" function in TheoryLab to look up a researcher, research area, and topics. Alternatively, you can post your idea and need in the TheoryLab community feed. 
  2. Search our ACS Research Grants Database.
  3. Reach out to us with your need, and we will try to help find a co-PI for the project: Kim Clarke (

Who is eligible to be a co-PI?

  • TheoryLab members at all career stages
  • Must hold a doctorate degree (e.g., M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent) and have a full-time faculty position at an eligible institution.
  • Current TLC grantees are ineligible, but a former TLC grantee is eligible to submit a proposal, if they meet all other criteria.

Note: A co-PI pair may submit multiple projects, as long as the project scopes do not overlap but can only accept funding for one project should multiple submissions receive fundable scores.

In addition to the above criteria, BOTH co-PIs must be TheoryLab Members and meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Have held or currently hold an ACS research grant for independent investigators, a MRSG or CSDG award, or IRG or IDG sub-awards. Grantees who received Pfizer-ACS grants are also eligible.
  • Past recipients of the following grants are eligible provided they have a full-time faculty position: Postdoctoral Fellowships and ACS Training Grants and Scholarships.
  • ACS scientists in the Surveillance and Health Equity Science or Population Science departments.

Eligible Institutions: Applications may be submitted by a college, university, medical school, or other not-for-profit research organization within the United States, its territories, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico provided that they have a research track record, infrastructure for financial and grant management, and research subject’s protection oversight.

How to Apply?

Step 1: The team must provide a brief post on the TheoryLab home page by May 17. The post should include the co-PI names, their connection to the ACS research ecosystem (grantee, reviewer, etc.), a brief description of how the team met or decided to collaborate, the project title, and a brief project description. 

Step 2: By May 21, selected investigators will be invited to submit a proposal. Applications are due July 15, 2024. Application materials will be made available to all selected investigators in ProposalCentral.


  • April – May 17: Submission of project co-PIs and summary. Community members are encouraged to comment during this period. Comments must be respectful and comply with the TheoryLab Code of Conduct.
  • May 21: Co-PIs meeting eligibility criteria will be invited to submit their proposal. All application materials will be available in ProposalCentral.
  • July 15: Application submission deadline.
  • September: Peer review of submitted proposals.
  • November: Applicants will be informed of the outcome of peer review.
  • January 1, 2025: TLC Grants will be activated.

Program Contact: