EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (NETRF) is the leading non-profit organization supporting basic, translational and clinical neuroendocrine tumor (NET) research. Our mission is to accelerate scientific discovery that will help create new and more effective therapies for carcinoid, pancreatic, bronchial, and other types of NETs.

Since its founding, NETRF has awarded more than $20 million in research grants to investigators whose work can help provide insight into the causes of NETs and/or lead to improved treatments for our patients. While we have made significant progress the past few years, we still have too few NET investigators and an incomplete understanding of the unique characteristics of these tumors.

 

OBJECTIVE

NETRF is seeking investigators and teams of investigators from around the world, with the tools to study neuroendocrine cancers in new ways. We invite innovative and transformative research proposals in NETs to help bring the field closer to more effective therapies. We are equally interested in basic, translational and clinical research applications, and encourage collaborations between investigators with expertise in different fields. We are very interested in grant proposals from multidisciplinary groups comprised of basic scientists, clinicians, and experts in bioinformatics, bio-nanotechnology, or other relevant disciplines. Proposals that cover promising and potentially transferable mechanisms and/or technologies, which have been applied successfully to other areas of cancer research, are highly desirable, and will be evaluated based on their level of applicability to NETs.

We continue to have an interest in understanding the molecular underpinnings of NETs, and the mechanisms that drive initiation and tumor progression. We seek proposals that suggest innovative ways to study NETs in the absence of conventional models, while we will continue to fund grants that aim to create new or optimize existing experimental models. We invite grants on clinical and adaptive studies, therapeutic sequencing, as well as correlative studies that may build upon existing clinical trials. Other topics of interest include nuclear medicine, theranostics, understanding chemotherapy resistance, new approaches to the early diagnosis of NETs, etc. A variety of state-of-the-art technologies may be utilized.

While we will continue to fund research in pancreatic and gastrointestinal NETs, this year we also invite grants that propose to study typical or atypical lung carcinoids. We have created a fund dedicated exclusively to lung carcinoids and we expect to fund at least one such grant in any of the three programs shown below.

  • Accelerator award, a 4-year grant in the amount of $1,200,000 ($300K/year).
  • Petersen Investigator award, a 2-year grant in the amount of $300,000 ($150K/year).
  • Pilot Project award, a 1-year grant at either $50K or $100K/year.

Please, go to https://proposalcentral.altum.com/ to see each program in more detail, and to apply.

 

ELIGIBILITY

Applicants must have a faculty appointment (assistant professor and above). Applicants must have the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research. An MD, PhD, MD/PhD or equivalent degree is required. Eligible organizations include public or private institutions, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, and laboratories, both domestic and international.

Applications from the biotech or pharmaceutical industry are not eligible.

 

SCOPE

Areas of interest: 

  • Application of existing or new technologies to target NETs
    Designer, nano-based drugs to create targeted therapies/treatments, drug delivery to intended cancer targets identified by the molecules they express, oncolytic viruses/cancer vaccines, nanoparticles that allow therapeutic agents to traverse the body efficiently. 
  • Deciphering the molecular underpinnings of NETs
    Elucidation of basic mechanisms underlying NET initiation, progression, monitoring of NET stages, etc. Understand the mechanistic rules for combinatorial treatments to overcome resistance and avoid toxicity.
  • Cell invasion and metastasis
    Drivers of metastasis, anti-metastasis targets, small non-coding RNAs, adhesion molecules and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, metastasis-initiating or cancer stem cells, metastatic organotropism, triggers that stimulate invasive behavior in an indolent tumor.
  • The immune microenvironment
    Cold NETs versus hot NETs, immune effector functions and the metabolic landscape of the tumor microenvironment, novel types of CAR T-cell therapy for solid tumors, adaptation or creation of methodologies to reprogram and activate the immune system, immune-engineering, antibody-drug conjugates.
  • Diagnostics
    Predictive/prognostics clinical markers, biomarkers for metastasis, imaging biomarkers, new approaches to the early diagnosis of NETs, circulating tumor cells/cell free DNA/exosomes (blood, urine etc.).
  • Cancer metabolism
    Understand and manipulate the way neuroendocrine cancer cells process energy in order to survive.
  • New/optimized experimental models:
    Cell lines, 3D cultures/organoids, patient-derived xenografts, etc.
  • Clinical Research
    Clinical and correlative studies that may build upon existing clinical trials, proof-of-concept Phase I clinical trials, adaptive studies, combination and sequencing of therapies.
  • Nuclear medicine, theranostics, imaging
    Evaluation of imaging agents, image-guided surgery or therapies, assessment of imaging systems, new delivery systems, radiomics, individualization, combination.

Organs of interest:

  • NEW THIS YEAR: We have a lung carcinoids fund and expect to fund at least one such grant. We invite grants proposing to work on typical or atypical lung carcinoids. We will not entertain grants proposing to work on SCLC, LCLC, non-SCLC, adenocarcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, mesotheliomas or poorly differentiated non–small cell lung carcinomas.
  • We continue to have an interest in all aspects of gastroenteropancreatic tumors including sites of metastasis.

 

CRITERIA

Projects that bring together investigators from diverse scientific disciplines are highly encouraged. For team applications, one recipient principal investigator and one recipient institution must be selected.

Candidates must demonstrate a commitment to NET research, and the potential for further development in this area. Please note that prior research in this field is not a prerequisite; in fact, the Foundation wishes to encourage scientists with expertise in other areas to enter the field. Applicants must, however, demonstrate a plan for continuing their research in NETs beyond the award period.

NETRF grantees are required to submit progress and financial reports twice per year and throughout the duration of their grant. The progress reports should summarize research accomplishments and use of the funds for each six-month period. Future funding is contingent upon review of progress and achievement of relevant milestones. Grants will be paid in six-month installments, in US dollars, and following satisfactory review of the progress reports.

Awardees are required to attend and present at the annual NETRF Research Symposium held in the spring each year, in the Boston area, and for the duration of their grant. Applicants should use their NETRF grant to pay for their travel to the NETRF conference.

 

PROCESS

The NETRF RFA employs a 2-step process: the 1st step is the submission of a Competitive Letter of Intent (LOI). The purpose of the LOI is to identify projects with the greatest scientific potential without requiring applicants first to submit a full application. A limited number of applicants whose LOI is deemed most meritorious will move to the 2nd step and will be invited to submit a full proposal.

One LOI / applicant / program may be submitted. An applicant may submit more than one LOIs, as long as the other LOIs are submitted to a different program, and there is no scientific overlap between them.

LOIs should outline research with the potential to transform our understanding of NETs and/or lead to improved treatments and diagnostics for patients. LOIs may focus on any type of NET and may propose basic, translational, or clinical cancer research. Submitted LOIs will be reviewed by the NETRF’s Scientific Advisory Board, comprised of highly respected leaders in the field. Investigators with the most promising and transformative ideas will be invited to submit full applications.

Full applications will be peer-reviewed by both external expert reviewers and by the NETRF’s

Scientific Advisory Board. Members of the Scientific Advisory Board will be recused if investigators from their institutions apply, or if there is another direct or perceived conflict of interest. The review process—including all meeting deliberations, scores and written critiques of applications, as well as other materials provided for the review of applications—is confidential. A confidentiality and conflict of interest statement must be signed by each reviewer. Applicants who wish to make reasonable requests to oppose reviewers may do so, explaining the nature of the conflict of interest.

Applications will be evaluated against five criteria, in accordance with NIH guidelines:

  • Significance
  • Approach
  • Innovation
  • Investigators
  • Environment

A statement of institutional commitment, including any tangible support that the institution is willing to commit to the project, is required.

NETRF’s Board of Directors will select the grant recipients based on:

  • The recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Board
  • Available funds
  • Impact of the research on the mission of NETRF

 

USE OF FUNDS

Awarded funds are directed to the institution. Up to 10% in indirect costs may be requested only for grants over $100K. Funds may be used for personnel salaries, supplies, small equipment, and/or research-related services only. Funds must not be used entirely for salaries and may not be applied to costs covered by other sources. Funds may be used to attend the Annual NETRF Symposium.

 

SHARING RESEARCH RESOURCES

Grant recipients that have created unique research resources using NETRF funds, are required to make them readily available to qualified individuals within the scientific community, after publication. Investigators responding to this funding opportunity must include a sharing research resources plan to address how unique research resources will be shared or explain why sharing is not possible.

Investigators that have created new plasmids or viruses are encouraged to submit them to Addgene.

Investigators that have created new cell lines are required to submit them to ATCC. NETRF will facilitate submission to ATCC.

For any questions regarding our RFA, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Learn more and apply on the NETRF website.