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Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA): Perspective from a funder

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Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA): Perspective from a funder. Image of a child kissing his smiling mother.

Preface: Letter of Intent deadlines are coming up on March 29, 2023 for this year’s grant cycle at Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA)! Learn more about the fantastic funding opportunities from OCRA in this interview.

Tell us more about the history and vision of Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance?

Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA) is the oldest and largest ovarian cancer charity in the world. Incorporated in 1994, OCRA has invested more than $110 million in cutting-edge research in our quest to end ovarian cancer. As the largest private funder of ovarian cancer research, OCRA is also the only ovarian cancer-dedicated voice on Capitol Hill continuously advocating for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal research funding provided by the National Cancer Institute and Department of Defense, as well as for related health policies that will benefit patients and survivors.

OCRA believes in a 360 degree approach in our efforts to eradicate ovarian cancer, so in addition to our research and advocacy, we also educate healthcare providers to ensure the earliest diagnosis possible through Survivors Teaching Students®; support patients with a peer-matching program in hospitals and online (woman to woman); convene the oldest and largest annual Ovarian Cancer National Conference; train interested individuals to become effective advocates at both the state and federal level through the Advocate Leaders program; and unite grassroots ovarian cancer organizations through membership in our Community Partners.

I see you have four funding programs, all of which have one grant cycle per year. Can you please tell us about each opportunity?

Collaborative Research Development Grant 

This is a 3 year grant $900,000 total/$300,000 annually. The purpose of this grant-making program is to provide funds for ovarian cancer and/or related gynecologic cancers research projects that may involve several investigators within one institution or collaborations between groups in multiple institutions. Interdisciplinary collaborations are encouraged.

Collaborative Research Development Grant – AI for health 

This is a 3 year grant $900,000 total/$300,000 annually. This is a partnership with Microsoft AI for Health. The purpose of this grant-making program is to provide funds for ovarian cancer and/or related gynecologic cancers research projects using AI or machine learning that may involve several investigators within one institution or collaborations between groups in multiple institutions. Interdisciplinary collaborations are encouraged.

Early Career Investigator Grant 

This is a 3 year grant $450,000 total/$150,000 annually. The Early Career Investigator Grant (ECIG) is for junior faculty with a strong commitment to an investigative career in the field of ovarian cancer research. The intent of these grants is to support a substantial time commitment to research and academic endeavors in ovarian cancer.

Mentored Investigator Grant 

This is a 1 or 2 year grant, the researcher can select at the time of the LOI. It is for $75,000 total regardless if it’s 1 or 2 years. This grant provides funding for trainees who are working under the supervision of a mentor who is a recognized leader in the field of ovarian cancer research, or relevant area. 

Individual Investigator Award: Note, We no longer offer this grant.

For each of the programs, how many grants are awarded annually, and in what amounts?

How many grants awarded each year will depend on our total grant budget for the year, and how our Scientific Advisory Committee decides to distribute the research funds.

Are all of your funding programs available to applicants globally? 

Yes

Can unsuccessful applicants re-apply? 

Yes, we encourage it.

Can successful applicants re-apply? 

Yes, but folks may only be granted the MIG and ECIG once. We have many PIs be successful with the MIG then the ECIG and onto a CRDG.

What advice would you give to prospective applicants?

Focus on your LOI submission since the LOI process is very competitive. Be sure your scientific abstract is detailed so folks who aren’t familiar with your project can see the whole picture. If an applicant isn’t successful one year, we highly encourage them to reapply the following year, we have had many folks be successful their second time.

Acknowledgment

Thank you to the OCRA Grants and Scientific Affairs Team for contributing to our funder perspective series.

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