Harper Cancer Research Institute Awarded American Cancer Society Grant

Harper Cancer Research Institute Awarded American Cancer Society Grant

The Harper Cancer Research Institute is a unique multidisciplinary organization, merging engineers, biologists, physicists, mathematicians, chemists and psychologists, who are all dedicated to its mission to conduct innovative and integrative cancer research.

We are pleased to announce that the Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) received an Institutional Research Grant (IRG) from the American Cancer Society (ACS). News of the accomplishment traveled quickly to the organization’s community collaborators. 

“The Harper Cancer Research Institute is how Notre Dame fights back against cancer,” says Mike Brey, head coach of Notre Dame’s men’s basketball team. “Knowing that such innovative research happens here on campus made me eager to partner with them to support cancer research funding and raise awareness.” HCRI  has become known for its approach to research cancer in a local community. Alliances have been formed with other cancer patient advocacy groups which has significantly increased cancer funding in the community. 

ACS distributes a variety of funding. This grant is unique in that it goes to the institute, which then can decide which project, based on specific guidelines, is funded. ACS IRG provides funds to support pilot projects for beginning investigators, enabling them to initiate an independent research program. The purpose of the ACS IRG program is to attract novel investigators from Notre Dame and IUSM-SB into cancer research. The intention is that the funded projects will produce preliminary data for the investigator to develop into studies that will eventually compete for external, national funds from both federal and private sources.

Upon learning that Harper was awarded this distinguished honor, Stack said, “Our faculty, staff and trainees have worked extremely hard in three short years to establish the inter-disciplinary teams that comprise the unique HCRI approach to cancer research. It is extremely rewarding to have their efforts recognized by the American Cancer Society with an Institutional Research Grant that puts us in the company of well-established cancer institutes nationwide.” 

HCRI beat the odds. Traditionally, these awards go to large academic centers with hospitals, such as MD Anderson or Northwestern University. It is uncommon for this type of ACS grant to be awarded to smaller institutes such as Harper. What is even more impressive is that it isn’t often that a group, especially a small group, receives this grant on its first try. And it gets better—the institute received the largest amount of funding possible. This ACS grant is a first for Notre Dame. 

How did HCRI do it?  Developed as a non-traditional institute definitely made it stand out among the rest. But it was also a community effort. HCRI has built a strong relationship with the local ACS chapter, partnering on several events.  Jessica McCrea, ACS’s Specialist of Distinguished events, was thrilled. McCrea said, “On behalf of the local American Cancer Society chapter, we would like to congratulate Harper Cancer Research Institute on this well-earned achievement! We are proud of the life-saving work that they are doing and we look forward to maintaining this important partnership for years to come.” The ACS Senior Representative of Community Engagement, Cinda White, added, “Congratulations! Harper Cancer Research Institute is truly our partner in the fight against cancer.”

 A call for grant proposals has been released. Faculties from all disciplines, with any project relating to cancer research are strongly encouraged to apply.  For questions please contact Rob Stahelin at: rstaheli@nd.edu.