Cancer Systems Biology Pilot Project Program

Request For Applications

Sponsored by The Cancer Cell Map Initiative, UCSF and UC San Diego Health Sciences



The Cancer Cell Map Initiative (CCMI) has funds to support up to two pilot projects in cancer systems biology. Project proposals are solicited from faculty members at UCSF, UC San Diego and nearby universities and research institutes (within 30 miles of either campus) wishing to develop and apply systems biology approaches to address a compelling biomedical question in cancer in collaboration with CCMI investigators.


Although much attention has been devoted to mapping tumor genomes, understanding cancer involves more than cataloging frequently mutated genes. It is critical to understand the many interactions between these genes and the corresponding proteins, and how these complex networks give rise to tumor initiation, progression and metastasis. The CCMI is applying systematic approaches to comprehensively map the molecular networks that underlie cancer and will use these maps as a key resource for precision medicine.

This pilot project program is intended to support the short-term exploration of innovative, high-risk concepts that complement existing CCMI research efforts ( These could be related to the development of novel bioinformatics techniques to integrate datasets into predictive tools or the exploration of a promising new experimental approach in systems biology such as imaging or single cell genomics. Representative examples are provided below:

  • Developing new methods for mapping protein-protein interactions, with an emphasis on capturing transient interactions,
  • Generating systematic knowledge of hallmark cancer pathways by linking tumor genomes to patient outcomes and responses, and
  • Integration of system-wide molecular data with advanced imaging techniques.

Review Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed and ranked according to the following criteria: potential to provide significant advances in the area of cancer systems biology, innovation, appropriateness of the experimental design, feasibility, qualifications of the personnel, complementarity to the existing research within the CCMI, and potential to be developed into R21 or R01 grants. Investigators receiving funding will be required to attend the annual CCMI Symposium and submit an annual report of no more than two pages.

Submission Information

Use the NIH’s structure (Significance, Innovation and Approach) or a similar format to describe a single Specific Aim in three pages or less. Proposals should clearly state the significance of the biomedical problem in cancer, why it will benefit from a systems biology approach and how this work will enable future competitive grant proposals. The proposal should include a succinct description of the research plan along with proposed experiments, methods and analysis. Please describe the available reagents and assays needed to support the research or describe what will need to be developed. Finally, provide a brief description of how this proposal is in collaboration with a CCMI investigator.

In addition to the three-page research proposal, please also provide an NIH biosketch (faculty members only) and a brief budget of no more than $70,000 (direct costs) for one year.

All documents should be submitted as one PDF to by 11:59 PM PT August 20, 2017. Please also direct any questions to