ChicagoCHEC Incubator & Catalyst Grants Request for Proposals (2023)


The Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC) is an NCI sponsored collaborative U54 mechanism involving the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University (NU), and a number of community organizations (

The purpose of this Request for Proposal (RFP) is to foster cross-institutional collaborations among investigator teams from NEIU, UIC, NU and a community partner to advance research on cancer health disparities. Projects can be in any discipline spanning basic, clinical, translational, prevention, control, behavioral, population, and/or community engagement research, but must have a cancer health equity lens. 

Please Note: These proposals are not guaranteed funding and are awarded based on the funding priorities of the ChicagoCHEC leadership. More information about the ChicagoCHEC leadership is available here.

Award Levels 

Up to two (2) full projects will be funded up to $250,000 total for each full project divided over 2 years (direct costs only).


January 31, 2023: Deadline for pre-proposal phone consultation meeting with ChicagoCHEC
February 17, 2023: Letter of Intent to submit proposal due
May 26, 2023: Deadline for receipt of proposals
July 2023 (anticipated): Project teams are notified of funding decision
September 1, 2023: Project funding begins


ChicagoCHEC principal investigators will host pre-proposal consultation meetings between December 2, 2022 – January 31, 2023 to allow faculty and community partners to share ideas for collaboration and research prior to preparing a proposal. At least one pre-proposal consultation meeting is required but is not binding. Interested faculty who do not have an existing partnership with a NEIU, UIC or NU faculty member or community partner can receive assistance in finding a collaborator. Pre-proposal consultation meetings are intended to help project teams formulate competitive applications that are responsive to the request for proposals. Please note that pre-proposal consultation meetings require submission of draft specific aims via e-mail to

To schedule a pre-proposal consultation meeting, please complete the online form linked below.
Pre-proposal consultation meeting deadline: January 31, 2023. 

ChicagoCHEC Pre-Proposal Phone Consultation


Awards will support two (2) collaborative projects for innovative research toward cancer health equity spanning the disciplines of basic, clinical, translational, prevention, control, behavioral, population, and/or community engagement research. Additionally, projects focused on persons with disabilities, LGBTQ population, and/or innovative community engagement are preferred but not required. An additional preferred criteria is that the principal investigator from NEIU is significantly engaged in cancer disparities research with a prospect for securing a future NIH K-series, R03, R21, R25, or R01 mechanism grant.

All proposed projects must involve collaboration between UIC, NEIU and NU scientists and community partner(s) and focus on any aspect of cancer health disparities. Proposed research projects must also have high potential for future external funding through the NIH K- series, R03, R21, R01 mechanisms and/or foundation support. Proposed projects should also provide training opportunities for minority and/or underrepresented minority students, fellows and/or faculty.

Eligible activities All proposals must specifically address cancer health disparities. Projects can be in any discipline spanning basic, clinical, translational, prevention, control, behavioral, population, and/or community engagement research, but must have a cancer health equity lens.

Eligible Applicants & Individuals 

Faculty from NEIU, UIC and NU are eligible to receive funding.  Each proposal requires collaboration from a team of investigators across the three institutions as Multiple PI’s (MPIs). All proposals require at least one partner organization that is a community-based organization or other type of partner, including but not limited to federal or local government agencies, school districts, and/or healthcare providers. The individual or representative of the partner organization must be named as a Co-Principal Investigator.

Preference will be given to projects that include a junior faculty member (i.e., someone who has never held R01 level funding as a Principal Investigator) from any of the three institutions. NEIU contact PIs are strongly encouraged to apply. Junior investigators who have previously received or who are current recipients of funding from ChicagoCHEC are eligible to apply.

Interested faculty who do not have an existing partnership with a NEIU, UIC or NU faculty member or community partner can schedule a consultation with ChicagoCHEC to help identify a collaborator. The members of the Mentoring and Project Team can be additional resources and include Drs. Joseph Hibdon (NEIU), Brian Hitsman (NU), Yamile Molina (UIC) and Adam Murphy (NU).

Application Deadline. 

January 31, 2023: Deadline for phone consultations

February 17, 2023: Letter of Intent due
Please submit a letter of intent to submit a proposal that includes a brief abstract and names and affiliations of all investigators to by 11:59PM CST, February 17, 2023.

May 26, 2023: Proposal Due Date. 
Completed proposals should be submitted via the NU Competitions application portal: by 11:59PM CST, May 26, 2023.

Required Application Sections:

Cover Page and Abstract. The cover page should include the title of the project, names, institutions, and contact information of PIs, Co-PIs, all other co-investigators and collaborators. Additionally, provide an abstract description of the proposed research project in lay terms (max: 250 words).

Research Proposal. The Research Proposal section is limited to 8 pages excluding figures, tables and references. The proposal should describe the research plan and include the following: 1) specific aims; 2) scientific significance and innovation; 3) preliminary studies and partnership development; 4) research design and methods, including a description of critical project activities that will be performed at NEIU, UIC, NU, and community partner site(s); 5) information on how the proposed project will lead to peer- reviewed funding; 6) plans for inclusion of minority and/or underrepresented students/trainees; 7) strategies for developing/maintaining an active collaboration among NEIU, UIC, NU, and community partner investigators; 8) plans for career development and mentorship for less experienced/junior investigators/co-leaders; and 9) the added value that the proposed research brings to the ChicagoCHEC U54 Partnership.

Current January 2022 non-fellowship FORMAT NIH Biosketches are required for each participating PI ( Note that biosketches should include also include funding sources including seed funding, development awards, etc.

Budget. NEIU, UIC, NU, and Community PIs will each complete separate budgets and budget justifications. A detailed project budget should include the amount requested, description of resource need and intended use of funding with adequate rationale, as well as additional current and pending sources of funding for this project. 

Budget restrictions. No indirect costs will be funded. Salary support (e.g., investigators, technicians, research assistants, coordinators, students, post-doctoral fellows) will be allowed. 

Administrative Costs for Community Partners. Administrative Costs can be included only in the budget for the community-based organizations and should not exceed 10% of the community-based organizations’ total allotted budget.

IRB approval. IRB approval will be required from all three institutions prior to receiving the funding.

Career Development and Mentoring Plan. When a project PI is an early-stage investigator, the project must be accompanied by a Career Development and Mentoring Plan. See templates here for early and mid-career plans.


Applications will be reviewed by designated review committees where reviewers will assign a score on the overall application based on the following criteria:

Significance. The project addresses important problems or critical barriers to progress in cancer research or cancer disparities research. The aims of the project advance scientific knowledge, technical capability, and have near-term impact. 

Innovation. The application utilizes novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.

Investigator(s). The PIs, collaborators, and other key personnel have the necessary experience and expertise to accomplish the goals of the proposed research project. The investigators have complementary and integrated expertise. 

Approach. The overall strategy, methodology, and analyses are well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project.

Career Development. There is a well thought-out and reasonable plan for career development of junior investigator(s). Mentor(s) have been identified and the appropriate mechanisms are in place to achieve the career development goals as outlined. 

Community Engagement. The partner organization(s) and their respective roles and contributions are clearly articulated.

Student Training. There will be significant opportunity for the training of minority and/or URM students and fellows.

Potential to Generate Publishable Data. There is high likelihood that the proposed project or program will generate publishable data leading to peer-reviewed publications.

Potential for External Funding. There is high likelihood that the proposed project or program will lead to more competitive grant applications to NIH and other types of foundation funding.