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Pilot Grant Programs

In 2021, two Pilot Grant Programs—the UMass Cancer Center Pilot Grant Program and the Population and Quantitative Health Sciences Cancer-Focused Pilot Project Program—were established to foster exciting science and innovation in cancer research at UMass Chan Medical School. The goal of the programs is to provide support for cancer discoveries at their earliest phase and facilitate further development of projects to a stage when they can obtain external support.

In their inaugural year, the two programs collectively awarded funds to five projects. Although the funding announcements for these awards were completely open, four of the funded awards involved collaborations between two different investigators, which speaks to the collaborative nature of the institution and the Cancer Center.

"I congratulate all of the researchers on being recipients of the pilot grant awards, and look forward to following the projects and their progress going forward."

Michael R. Green, MD, PhD
Director, UMass Cancer Center 

UMass Cancer Center Pilot Project Program

The purpose of this Pilot Grant Program is to foster exciting science and innovation at UMass Cancer Center.

In 2021, this Program awarded funds for three projects:

Does intra‚Äźtumoral injection of AIM2 siRNA enhance the response of immune checkpoint inhibitor for melanoma?

PIs: John Harris, MD, PhD, and Anastasia Khvorova, PhD


Using single-cell chromatin profiling to uncover epigenetic vulnerabilities of triple-negative breast cancer

PI: Thomas Fazzio, PhD


Nanoparticle delivery of innate immune agonists to remodel the tumor microenvironment and potentiate T cell-activating therapies in PDAC

PIs: Marcus Ruscetti, PhD, and Prabhani Atukorale, PhD



Population and Quantitative Health Sciences Cancer-Focused Pilot Project Program

This program was initiated by the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences to provide funding for cancer-focused projects. Funding for these pilot projects was provided by the UMass Cancer Center, the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, and the National Cancer Institute (through a multi-center P50 grant iDAPT: Implementation and Informatics – Developing Adaptable Processes and Technologies for Cancer Control).

In 2021, two projects were funded through this program:

Developing computational methods of genome-wide detection of fusion circular RNAs in chronic myeloid leukemia

PIs: Chan Zhou, PhD, and Minggang Fang, PhD


Using psychophysiological technology to develop a mood-tailored intervention for smoking cessation (Adapt2YourMood)

PIs: Rajani Sadasivam, PhD, and Elise Stevens, PhD