Funding Opportunities

Funding Opportunities

The Columbia University Physical Sciences in Oncology Center offers pilot grants and cross-disciplinary collaborative grants for innovative, interdisciplinary research involving quantitative scientists and cancer biologists. These grants are intended to facilitate collaborations between mathematicians/physicists and cancer researchers that will lead to innovative new applications for the analysis of large biological data sets. The program of this year includes:

  • one pilot grant of $50,000 to support technology development and/or research involving wet lab experimentation
  • two collaborative grants of $25,000 each to support mathematical/computational research in collaboration with the Center. Collaborations are required to involve at least one researcher within the Center.

The goal of the program is to foster the development of new technologies and quantitative methods for the analysis of cancer genomic data. All applications must demonstrate close interdisciplinary collaboration between quantitative scientists and cancer biologists. Pilot projects and collaborative grants will enable the development and testing of new mathematical approaches within the context of cancer research, give mathematicians and physicists experience working in biological settings, and provide cancer biologists opportunities to explore how mathematical methods can be used to guide research agendas.

We recognize that these award amounts will not support large-scale projects, and so are seeking to fund startup projects and proof-of-principle studies that show strong potential for future funding.

Successful projects will lead to the development of new mathematical/computational approaches that would be generally applicable to the study of cancer biology, and not only to one specific system. In addition, proposals should indicate the nature of the biological insights that the development of these new computational methods should enable.

Eligibility requirements

  • Any investigator is eligible to apply. However, applications for collaborative grants require specifying at least one researcher within the Center as part of the collaboration.
  • Funding from collaborative grants must be used to cover dedicated time of a quantitative scientist in collaborations with members of the Center. Postdoctoral researchers are eligible to serve as project co-PIs with the approval of their scientific mentors.
  • Funding from the pilot grant must be used to cover experimental expenses, and travel expenses for people outside of the center.
  • Investigators should address specific aims within the Projects or Core of the Center.

Key dates

  • Application deadline: June 30th, 2017- Extended to July 2nd 12am
  • Announcement of awards: July 20th, 2017
  • Earliest start date for the projects: July 20th, 2017
  • Latest end date for the projects: April 30th, 2018

Proposal requirements

1) A research statement, no more than 2 pages in length, that includes the following elements:

  • An abstract of no more than 250 words summarizing the key components of the proposed project, followed by its specific aims
  • A description of the research strategy, including the significance of the proposed project and the methodology that will be used
  • An explanation of the deliverables that are intended to be available at the conclusion of the project

2) Short NIH format biographies of key personnel that reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the project and the ability to successfully complete it. Applications to collaborative grants must include at least one researcher within the Center

3) A detailed budget describing how project funds will be used

Proposals that do not contain all of the required elements at the time of the submission will be disqualified from consideration.

Review process

The CUPS-OC review committee will review all proposals, judging them on the basis of their innovation, feasibility, compatibility with the Center’s mission, and the likelihood of future funding. When necessary, the review committee will conduct phone interviews with applicants to obtain additional information.

Requirements for grantees

Grantees will be required to submit one progress report, on March 15th, 2018. This report must summarize all accomplishments of the pilot project as well as any obstacles that may complicate the realization of deliverables described in the project proposal.

Grantees may be required to present their research in a PSOC meeting on a mutually agreeable date.

The Center’s Executive Director will be responsible for facilitating and monitoring pilot projects. Awards, scientific results, and publications resulting from sponsored collaborations will be documented on the Center’s website.

How to submit your proposal

Please submit your application as a PDF file to Center’s Executive Director: Sophie Thuault-Restituito,


For questions about the pilot grant program, contact Sophie Thuault-Restituito (

Previous awardees


Andrew Blumberg, PhD (University of Texas)
Application of the geometry of CAT(0) spaces to problem in genomics

Abbas Rizvi, PhD and Tom Maniatis, PhD (Columbia University)
A Generalized Workflow for Molecularly Annotated Connectomics

Lorin Crawford, PhD (Duke University), Anthea Monod, PhD, coPI (Columbia University) and Sayan Mukherjee, PhD, co-PI (Duke University)
Reconstructing and Collating Topological Quantifications of Tumors for Radiogenomics,

Antonio Iavarone, MD and Fulvio D’Angelo, PhD (Columbia University)
Identification of Master Regulators in Glioblastoma through single-cell RNA-seq analysis


Peter A. Sims, PhD (PI), Antonio Iavarone, MD (Co-I), and Anna Lasorella, MD (Co-I) (Columbia University, NY)
Experimental Pilot Grant

Anthea Monod, PhD (PI), Sayan Mukherjee, PhD (Co-PI), and Kris Wood, PhD (Co-PI), (Duke University, NC)
Computational Pilot Grant

Gurinder S. Atwal, PhD (PI) and Mike Wigler, PhD (Co-PI) (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY)
Computational Pilot Grant