Research to End Disparities (RED) Program

The Harper Cancer Research Institute is launching a pilot fund program to promote research that addresses cancer health disparities. The goal of the HCRI Research to End Disparities (RED) Program is to generate key data to support an application to National Cancer Institute for basic research in cancer health disparities (links provided below) or an application to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Applications with a drug discovery/screening component will be co-funded by the Warren Center for Drug Discovery. Applications with a molecular/cellular diagnostics focus will be co-funded by the Institute for Precision Health. Competitive applications to the RED program will clearly identify the NCI or NIMHD funding mechanism and the expected date of extramural proposal submission.


Applications submitted through the HCRI grant management system (CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION) will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.

Evaluation criteria include:

  1. relevance to basic research in cancer health disparities,
  2. strength of the proposed research and
  3. likelihood to generate data to support an extramural application, as stated above. 

Upon acceptance of the award, the PI agrees to affiliate extramural proposal(s) supported by data resulting from this program with the HCRI (and Warren Center, as appropriate).


  • Formatting
    • Single spaced
    • Arial 11 font or larger
    • Margins 0.6" or larger
    • Assemble all sections below into a single PDF for submission
  • Cover Page:
    • Project Title
    • Principle Investigator name, department, position/title, email, phone
    • Abstract of up to 30 lines of text
      • Provide a succinct description of the proposed project. Include the relevance to cancer disparities, the broad objectives and specific aims, and an overview of the research design and methods.
    • Identify the NCI or NIMHD mechanism that will be targeted and expected date of submission.
    • Supplemental Data (include on cover page):
      • Human subjects:
      • Yes ___ No ___
      • Approval number ______________ Approval pending ________________
      • Vertebrate Animals:
      • Yes ____ No ____
      • Approval number ______________ Approval pending ________________
  • Research Plan (up to 3 pages):
    • Significance and Background: relevance to a cancer health disparity-specific research problem
  • Research Design
    • Overview of conceptual framework, design, methods, analyses and how the project will develop novel concepts and/or approaches. Emphasize how the application will generate preliminary data for the extramural application.  The proposal must specify clearly defined targeted deliverables.
  • Budget:
    • Provide a brief outline of a $20,000 budget
    • Funds cannot be used to support staff, trainee or PI salary
  • Additional Information:
    • References (no page limit)
    • Biosketch (up to 5 pages)
  • Questions?  Contact Andy Bullock (


The NCI has recently released three RFPs of interest.  For full application instructions, please see the links below.  Submissions to these RFP are open through 2024. A summary of the research supported on these mechanisms, excerpted from the NCI program announcement, follows.

An increasing number of studies demonstrate that even when socioeconomic and access to care factors are accounted for, incidence and mortality gaps persist between racial/ethnic populations for some cancer types, which suggests a role for biological contributors. Such studies have included identification of ancestry-related differences in DNA, RNA, and/or protein expression that are associated with cancer risk and/or progression. Other studies have shown the presence of differential tumor microenvironment components among diverse racial/ethnic populations indicating a potential role for immunity and inflammation in contributing to cancer health disparities. These complex biological factors may enhance understanding of the differences observed in cancer incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality rates among underrepresented populations. The NCI encourages investigations of such biological factors to increase our understanding of the mechanisms that play a role in cancer health disparities.

Research topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Causal drivers of early onset of certain cancer types in specific populations
  • Genetic/epigenetic mechanisms of cancer susceptibility differences among racial/ethnic populations, such as epigenetic drivers and or suppressors
  • Understanding how race/ethnicity impacts disease penetrance in individuals who inherit a cancer susceptibility gene
  • Understanding if race/ethnicity has a role in regression of precancerous lesions
  • Understanding if risk factors, including environmental exposures, differ across race/ethnicity to influence the development of precancerous lesions
  • Identifying cancer risk and early detection biomarkers among underrepresented populations
  • Examination of how stress impacts the progression of symptoms across different population groups
  • Identify underlying mechanisms of symptoms that are responsible for altering treatment regimens that increase the risk of mortality for racial/ethnic minority patients with cancer
  • Understand the process through which precision therapies improve symptom management to reduce health disparities
  • Similarities and differences in cancer metabolism (e.g. alterations in metabolic fuel sources, fatty acid synthesis, lipid metabolism, glycolysis, nutrient uptake) among racial/ethnic populations
  • New 3D cellular models, organoids, xenografts, patient-derived models, and microfluidic systems designed to recapitulate and investigate cancer health disparities
  • Epithelial and mesenchymal markers in circulating tumor cells in cancer patients of distinct racial/ethnic groups
  • Investigations of how social health disparities may cause adverse gene expression that confers increased cancer risk and/or aggressiveness
  • Role of the microbiota in cancer health disparities during tumorigenesis and cancer progression
  • Role of the oncogenic pathogens in the development of cancer health disparities during tumorigenesis and cancer progression in different populations groups
  • Computational analysis and modeling for predicting aggressive tumors in distinct racial/ethnic populations
  • Understanding the biologic mechanisms behind the differences in toxicity and symptoms in different population groups
  • Understanding of biological mechanisms of how stress impacts the progression of symptoms in racial/ethnic minority groups
  • Deciphering the mechanisms of accumulated exposure to environmental toxins across populations
  • Understanding the biological processes through which precision interventions improve symptom management to reduce cancer health disparities
  • Biological bases of differences among racial/ethnic populations in responses to cancer immunotherapies and/or development of immune-related adverse events induced by cancer immunotherapies.