Cancer Institute Invites Studies of Provocative Questions

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has unveiled a pot of up to $17.5 million to study so-called "provocative questions"—unsolved, paradoxical, or neglected research questions that deserve a closer look. The questions are a pet project of NCI Director Harold Varmus, who held a series of workshops to draw up the list starting last fall.

The final list of 24 questions ranges from how obesity contributes to cancer risk, to why certain mutations promote cancer in some tissues but not others and why some tumors lie dormant for years before becoming malignant. (The Provocative Questions site explains that the questions are listed randomly, not in order of importance.)

Researchers can apply for either a standard R01 grant or an exploratory R21 grant. The proposal must respond directly to a single question or it will be rejected, the notices state. Letters of intent are due 14 October and applications a month later.