The intent of the Breakthrough Award is to support promising research that has high potential to lead to or make breakthroughs in breast cancer. The critical components of this award mechanism are:
Impact: Research supported by the Breakthrough Award will have the potential for a major impact and accelerate progress toward ending breast cancer. The impact may be near-term or long-term, but must move beyond a minor advancement and have the potential to lead to a fundamentally new approach that is significantly more effective than interventions already approved or in clinical development. Applications are expected to identify the breast cancer patients or at-risk individuals who would ultimately benefit from the proposed research.
Research Scope: The Breakthrough Award is structured with four different funding levels. The levels are designed to support major (but not all) stages of research that will lead to clinical application. Each level has a defined research scope. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (PI) to select the level that aligns with the scope of the proposed research. The funding level should be selected based on the research scope defined in the program announcement, and not on the amount of the budget.
The current program announcement discusses the Breakthrough Award Level 4. Funding Levels 1, 2, and 3 are available under other program announcements (HT9425-23-BCRP-BTA12 for Levels 1 and 2 and HT9425-23-BCRP-BTA3 for Level 3). The PI is strongly encouraged to review the research scope defined under each funding level as described in the corresponding Breakthrough Award program announcements before submitting the pre-application. An application that does not meet the intent of Funding Level 4 will not be recommended for funding, even if it might meet the intent of a different funding level.
The following is a general description, although not all-inclusive, of the scope of research projects that would be appropriate to propose under the current program announcement:
Funding Level 4: Large-scale projects that will transform and revolutionize the clinical management and/or prevention of breast cancer. Human clinical trials are required. PIs are expected to have experience in successfully leading large-scale projects and demonstrated ability (through personal experience or via a commitment from a collaborating clinical investigator) to implement a clinical project successfully. Where relevant, applications must demonstrate availability of and access to necessary data, human samples, cohort(s), and/or critical reagents. For proposed research that will require U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involvement, project readiness requirements at the time of application submission include: proof of availability of and access to clinical reagents (e.g., therapeutics) that meet regulatory compliance guidelines, proof of availability of and access to appropriate subject population(s), validated projections for patient recruitment, and submission of an Investigational New Drug (IND) or Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) application to the FDA, if applicable.
Funding from this award mechanism must support a clinical trial. A clinical trial is defined as a research study in which one or more human subjects are prospectively assigned to one or more interventions (which may include a placebo or another control) to evaluate the effects of the interventions on biomedical or behavioral health-related outcomes. For more information, a Human Subject Resource Document is provided at https://cdmrp.health.mil/pubs/pdf/Human%20Subjects%20Resource%20Document.pdf. PIs seeking funding for a research project other than a clinical trial should consider one of the other FY23 BCRP program announcements being offered. Studies that do not seek to measure safety, effectiveness, and/or efficacy outcome(s) of an intervention are not considered clinical trials.
For the purposes of this funding opportunity Regulatory Agency refers to the FDA or any relevant international regulatory agency unless otherwise noted.
Note: An invited oral presentation is a requirement for application review of Funding Level 4 projects, as described in Section II.D, Full Application Submission Content.
Partnering PI Option: The Breakthrough Award encourages applications that include meaningful and productive partnerships between investigators. The Partnering PI Option is structured to accommodate two PIs. One PI will be identified as the Initiating PI and will be responsible for the majority of the administrative tasks associated with application submission. The other PI will be identified as a Partnering PI. Both PIs should contribute significantly to the development of the proposed research project including the Project Narrative, Statement of Work (SOW), and other required components. The PIs may have expertise in similar or disparate scientific disciplines, but each PI is expected to bring distinct contributions to the application. The application should clearly demonstrate that both PIs have equal intellectual input into the design of the project and will devote similar and appropriate levels of effort to the conduct of the project. It is expected that funding will be balanced between both PIs unless appropriately justified. New partnerships are encouraged, but not required. The application is expected to describe how the PIs’ unique expertise combined as a partnership will better address the research question, how the unique expertise that each individual brings to the application is critical for the research strategy and completion of the SOW, and why the work should be done together rather than through separate efforts. To meet the intent of the Partnering PI Option, applicants are discouraged from being named as a Partnering PI on multiple Breakthrough Award Level 4 applications unless they are clearly addressing distinct research questions. Applications where one PI is providing samples or investigational agents while the other PI is performing most or all of the research and analyses do not meet the intent of the Partnering PI Option. If recommended for funding, each PI will be named to an individual award within the recipient organization. For individual submission requirements for the Initiating PI and Partnering PI, refer to Section II.D.2, Content and Form of the Application Submission.
Personnel: Applications are expected to include an appropriate and robust research team with the combined backgrounds and breast cancer-related expertise to enable successful conduct of the project.
Consumer Advocates: Applications are required to include consumer advocate involvement. The research team must include two or more breast cancer consumer advocates, who will be integral throughout the planning and implementation of the research project. Consumer advocates should be involved in the development of the research question, project design, oversight, recruitment, and evaluation, as well as other significant aspects of the proposed project. Interactions with other team members should be well integrated and ongoing, not limited to attending seminars and semi-annual meetings. As lay representatives, the consumer advocates must be individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and they should be active in a breast cancer advocacy organization. Their role in the project should be independent of their employment, and they cannot be employees of any of the organizations participating in the application. Their role should be focused on providing objective input on the research and its potential impact for individuals with, or at risk for, breast cancer. The consumer advocates should have a high level of knowledge of current breast cancer issues and the appropriate background and/or training in breast cancer research to contribute to the project.