NCI's IMAT program funds technology development in the following program areas:
- Innovative Molecular and Cellular Analysis Technologies for Basic and Clinical Cancer Research (R21)
- Advanced Development and Validation of Emerging Molecular and Cellular Analysis Technologies (R33)
- Innovative Biospecimen Technologies for Basic and Clinical Cancer Research (R21)
- Advanced Development and Validation of Emerging Biospecimen Science Technologies (R33)
Regardless of the theme area to which an applicant may apply, the following are general attributes applicable to all IMAT technologies:
- The proposed technology application may be targeted for the needs of basic, translational, and/or clinical cancer research. All proposed applications, however, must offer the potential for substantial improvements over conventional approaches and/or add qualitatively new research capabilities not provided by current technologies.
- "Technologies" proposed for development may include hardware, tools, instrumentation, devices, and associated techniques and/or methods.
- Generally desirable attributes of all proposed applications include: (a) multiplexing; (b) improved high throughput capability; (c) cost reduction; and/or (d) improved sensitivity, specificity, and/or selectivity.
Among the strengths of the IMAT Program is the diversity of disciplines from which potentially transformative technologies are solicited. General areas of particular need include:
- Technologies for the Early Detection of Cancer and Risk Assessment: Examples include technologies that enable the detection and discovery of biomarkers; detection of biochemical changes in body fluids; cellular imaging technologies to detect preneoplastic lesions.
- Analytical Technologies with Potential Clinical Utility: Example include technologies that improve the ability to predict response to therapy; analytical or point-of-care devices; targeted delivery and retention of anticancer agents.
- Technologies for Research in Cancer Etiology, Epidemiology, and Health Disparities: Examples include technologies for the identification/validation of biomarkers for differential risk in multiple populations; improved dissemination of information such as risk, clinical practices, and cancer-related health outcomes to different population groups.
- Technologies for Research in Cellular Mechanics and Biophysics: Examples include technologies designed to elucidate or model the role of physical forces in various cellular functions including cellular metastasis, cytoskeletal alteration, or cellular interactions with the tumor microenvironment.
- Technologies for Analysis of Cancer Development and Pathological Progression: Examples include technologies for the capture, separation, and characterization of cells and/or biomarkers; the development of in vitro and in vivo cancer models; enhance the understanding of the tumor microenvironment.
- Biospecimen Quality Assessment and Evaluation: Examples include technologies to assess the quality of biospecimens; determine the effects of collection, processing, and storage on molecular components of interest.
- Biospecimen Procurement, Storage, Handling, and Transport: Examples include technologies for the assessment, prevention, and/or reversal of adverse changes in samples during storage or preservation.
- Biospecimen Processing: Examples include technologies for the preparation of specific types of fluids, tissues, or other sample types.
- Analyte Extraction and Purification: Examples include technologies for maximizing yield and throughput; optimizing the isolation and/or purification of specific biomolecules; isolation of specific cells of sub-cellular components.
- Analyte Utilization and Analysis: Examples include technologies aimed at maximizing the utility of analytes extracted from cancer biospecimens.
A Note on General Non-Responsive Technologies:
In order to prevent the duplication of efforts and funding opportunities across the NCI and NIH, it is important to note that there are areas that are generally not supported by the IMAT Program. Types of projects that are outside of the IMAT Program’s scope (i.e., are non-responsive to any IMAT FOA) include projects that:
- Pursue a biological or clinical hypothesis for which the novelty of the project resides in the biological/clinical question and NOT in the novel technical capability being developed.
- Propose software/informatics solutions, database development, data mining, statistical tools, and computational/mathematical modeling (these projects are better suited for the Informatics Technology for Cancer Research Program);
- Propose whole-body or in vivo imaging methods (these projects are better suited for the Cancer Imaging Program).
- Center on development of specific drugs or therapies.
- Inclusion of clinical trials or toxicology studies beyond those required to demonstrate the capabilities of the technology.