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Innovative, Developmental, and Exploratory Awards (IDEA)

Supporting speculative, exploratory, high-risk/high-reward projects with a primary focus on breast cancer.

Requirements: Applications for this award type should challenge existing paradigms, represent a new direction for the PI and encourage innovation by the incorporation of techniques and approaches not yet well represented in mainstream breast cancer research. We encourage researchers to attempt breakthroughs that, if successful, could be leveraged into more substantial funding. Both established researchers and new investigators (see below) are welcome to apply.

Examples of research not responsive to the IDEA are projects that:

  1. Propose incremental advances for the underlying topic,
  2. Duplicate the aims of completed or funded research to the PI derived from non-breast cancer studies without incorporating detailed breast cancer-specific justification,
  3. Overlap in topic and aims with current grant support to the applicant or
  4. Represent portions of existing grants or are derived from larger, R01-type projects.

To be maximally responsive to the IDEA funding mechanism, the applicant must either be previously trained and have published in breast cancer or collaborate with an established breast cancer researcher.

IDEA applicants are required to explain how the research project is on a “critical path” to substantially advance the topic under investigation.

IDEAs for new investigators: Researchers at a career level beyond postdoctoral training and less than three years as an independent investigator, or entering research from another field, are encouraged to apply for IDEA grants. During the peer review process, the applicant's prior research history and accomplishments will be rated less stringently than for IDEAs from established investigators.

To be responsive and eligible for funding, each applicant must explain how their proposed research addresses one or more of our priority issues.

Project Duration and Budget Caps:

  • 18 months maximum duration
  • Budget cap for total project direct costs is either $100,000 or $150,000 (higher cap is for projects using animal or human participants). Non-UC institutions are entitled to full F&A of the Modified Total Direct Cost base (MTDC); UC institutional F&A is capped at 30% MTDC (not retroactive to prior grants).

The Letter of Intent (LOI) must be submitted by the deadline in order to be considered. The LOI must:

  • Provide a brief background, rationale or purpose for the project specific to breast cancer in lay terms.
  • Describe a novel, innovative topic and/or approach for the proposed research that is linked to a CBCRP priority issue.
  • Explain how the project is a key portion of the “critical path” from basic knowledge, hypothesis-testing to a practical application specific to breast cancer at either the patient or community level.
  • Show evidence of involvement of advocates. Specifically, name the advocacy organization that you plan to work with on the full application, why the organization is appropriate for your proposed research project and who you have communicated with at that organization. In addition, describe the role of advocate(s) in the project design, implementation, interpretation and dissemination, and attach written documentation (an email is sufficient) from the advocate of a representative of the advocacy organization demonstrating their willingness to explore participating in the research application, should the LOI be approved.

LOI decisions and invitations to submit a full grant application will be communicated to PIs in December.

LOI templates and instructions are available in SmartSimple and on the Application Materials webpage.

Full call for applications (pdf)

Full application Review Criteria

The decision to offer funding is determined by a combination of scientific merit and programmatic responsiveness. Each award type has specific requirements that must be addressed by successful funded projects. Applicants should pay careful attention to both the scientific and programmatic criteria that will be used to make the funding decisions from the start of your proposal preparation. The details of the components that constitute the scientific merit and programmatic evaluation are described below.

scientific Peer Review

Component Description
Innovativeness The extent to which the basic concept and hypotheses are speculative, exploratory, develop new paradigms, and are high risk/high reward. The extent to which the research incorporates multi-disciplinary elements and collaborations.
Impact The extent to which the project, if successfully carried out, would make an original and important contribution to advancing the research topic along the “critical path” to defeat breast cancer. Note to basic science applicants: If a molecular pathway has not been established to be relevant to breast cancer, then the primary point of the study should be to test this relevance.
Approach The extent to which the conceptual framework, design, methods and analyses are developed, well integrated and appropriate to the aims and stated milestones of the project.
Feasibility The extent to which the investigators can achieve their stated milestones and have maximized their chances for success through demonstrated skill, knowledge, expertise, appropriate resources, and collaborations. For new investigators resources and collaborations are emphasized, and less weight is placed on research background, publications, and “track record.”


Programmatic Review

Component Description
Response to priorities How responsive is the proposed research to CBCRP priority issues? [The Council will compare the PI’s statements on Program Responsiveness template, top section, and the content of the abstracts to the CBCRP priority issues and examples.]

Response to award type

How responsive is the project and PI to the stated intent of the selected award type? [The Council will compare the PI’s statements on Program Responsiveness template, bottom section, to the CBCRP award type criteria.]
Critical path/translation The degree to which the applicant’s statements on Critical Path and Focus on Underserved Populations template provides a convincing argument that the proposed research fits into and advances a critical path for translation and impact on breast cancer. What barriers must be overcome to take the project to the next level, and what plans are provided for to address these barriers?
Underfunded The degree to which the PI on Distinction from Other Funding template has highlighted the unique aspects of the proposed research from their own projects (past and present) and the research by others. Is the research relatively underfunded by other agencies, or not funded? [Council will use the ICRP database ( to assess the extent of funding in the topic area]
Quality of the lay abstract Does the Lay Abstract clearly explain in non-technical terms the research background, questions/hypotheses, innovative elements, goals, general methodology and potential impact of the project (including impact on public health outcomes if appropriate)? Is the relevance to breast cancer understandable?
Addressing the needs of the underserved Do the project and the PI’s statements on Critical Path and Focus on Underserved Populations template demonstrate how this research will contribute to health equity by addressing breast cancer issues that disproportionally affect communities who have been historically underserved by research and/or health systems? Does the project address inequities and/or the specific needs of communities who are underserved as they bear a disproportionally high burden of health-related problems due to factors related to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic location, sexual orientation, physical or cognitive limitations, age, occupation and/or other factors?
Advocacy involvement Are the named advocate(s) and advocacy organization appropriate for the proposed research project? Is there a California-based advocate involved in the project? Will the advocate provide a perspective that is historically underrepresented in breast cancer research? Were the advocate(s) engaged in the application development process? Are meetings and other communications sufficient for substantive engagement? Are the roles and responsibilities of the PI and the advocate(s) clearly outlined and is the agreement for advocate compensation and reimbursement clear? [The Council will compare the content of the Advocacy Involvement form and the Letter of Commitment.]



We held an applicant webinar on September 22, 2022 in which we described the requirements for the IDEA, Translational Research and Conference Awards and provided an orientation for the navigating the application process in SmartSimple.  


View the video and slides below.