The Women’s Cancer Research Center (WCRC) Pilot Project Funding in Women's Cancer Research

The WCRC was formed in 2010 as a unique collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) (now UPMC Hillman Cancer Center) and Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI).  The mission of the WCRC is to reduce the incidence and death from women's cancer.  This mission is achieved through the development and fostering of vibrant basic, translational, and clinical research aimed at translating novel discoveries into improved patient care.  The WCRC announces a Pilot Project Program in Women’s Cancer Research.  The goal of this pilot project program is to support team development for projects that will lead to collaborative grants.

Program Summary

This Program seeks to:

1) Stimulate new collaborations in the area of women’s cancer.

2) Generate pilot data leading to future grant submission, with a focus on collaborative multi-investigator applications.  Preferred grants will develop pilot data that could contribute to SPORE or PPG type grant mechanisms.

The program will support up to four grants up to of $25,000 each for one-year duration, with the opportunity for a one-year renewal if research progress is clearly demonstrated.   

Deadline for submission of proposals: September 15, 2018.

Decisions will be made in November 2018, and funding expected to start in January 2019. Recipients are required to submit a progress report, and to present their data at next year’s WCRC Retreat.

Budget information

The monies awarded will support direct costs only; no indirect support will be provided.  Funding may not be used for travel or computer equipment.  The monies awarded may not be used for salary support for the PI. In planning budgets, please note that requests for no-cost extensions (carryovers) will need to be justified in detail.  Approval will be contingent upon demonstration of significant progress in the conduct of the project and on evaluation of the reasons for the delay in its completion.  If an award is to be made, no monies can be expended until any necessary regulatory protocols (IRB, IACUC, rDNA, CORID, hSCRO) are approved.  The start date for the project will be dependent on such approval. 


University of Pittsburgh faculty members at the levels of assistant/research assistant professor, associate/research associate professor, and professor/research professor are eligible to apply.  See below for relevant instructions.   For any given research group, only one award may be active at a given time.  That is, if there are several research faculty members working under the umbrella and mentorship of a given faculty member, only one award may be active for the entire group, independent of whether the PI is the senior investigator or any of the research faculty members.

Projects that focus on translational research in women’s cancer with an emphasis on drug resistance, metastasis, cancer cell heterogeneity, and the tumor microenvironment are encouraged, although other areas of research will be considered. Translational research will be of the highest priority.  Thus, it will be incumbent on an applicant to convince reviewers that the results of a laboratory-based program have the potential to be translated into clinical utility.

The application must include the following items: 

I.  Cover sheet

The first page of the application must be a cover sheet that gives the name, degree, academic title, primary departmental affiliation, and contact information (telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address) of the PI.  The signature of everyone named on this cover sheet must also appear.

The signature of the relevant departmental/divisional administrator must also appear to acknowledge that effort is required of the PI and that this effort must be counted when determining the investigator’s total effort to ensure that he/she does not exceed 100% effort when all activities are considered. 

II. Completed Magee-Womens Cancer Research and Education Funding Committee Grant Request Application

General Instructions, Format, and Guidelines

The application must be clear, readily legible, and conform to the following three requirements: 

1) The proposal should be no more than 6 pages in length, including a specific aims page.  References are not included in the page count.

2)The font must be Arial, Helvetica, Palatino Linotype, or Georgia 11-point or larger.

3) Margins, in all directions, must be at least ½ inch. Text in figures, charts, tables, figure legends, and footnotes may be smaller in size but must be in black ink and readily legible.  If IACUC, IRB, IBC, hSCRO, or CORID protocol approvals are required to conduct the research, the relevant approvals must be obtained before money will be released to support the project.  Please note that should an award be made, the services of the CTSI Regulatory Core ( should be used to facilitate the preparation of required protocols. 

Review Criteria

The primary review criteria are: 

  • The scientific premise, feasibility and merit of the project
  • The potential to lead to more comprehensive studies and future funding
  • The degree to which the project could contribute to future large collaborative grants
  • Appropriate experience of PI/team, with some demonstration of ongoing record of accomplishments

Applications will undergo peer review by investigators from the University of Pittsburgh and/or UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Following peer review, projects will be chosen based upon score and programmatic relevance.

Applications are to be submitted electronically, as pdf files, to Margie Seskey, by 5:00 pm on September 15, 2018.  No exceptions will be made to the receipt date.  Within one week of the receipt date, each applicant should receive an e-mail message notifying him/her that his/her application has been received.  If an applicant does not receive such notification, he/she should contact Margie Seskey.

Logistical and administrative questions about the program should be directed to Margie Seskey, Scientific questions regarding proposal in the realm of gynecologic cancers should be directed to Dr. Ronald Buckanovich (, scientific questions related to breast cancer should be directed to Dr. Steffi Oesterreich (

Application Due Date

Saturday, September 15, 2018