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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer?

The Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer is a competition designed to surface game-changing breast cancer prevention research ideas.

This challenge, sponsored by the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP), aims to advance breast cancer primary prevention by surfacing innovative breast cancer prevention research ideas from researchers and others interested in breast cancer prevention. By providing cash prizes, feedback from respected researchers, and the opportunity to present ideas to prominent leaders in the field, the challenge aims to surface breakthrough ideas that will help catalyze the field of breast cancer primary prevention research. The most promising ideas will frame CBCRP's future funding strategy and will be further developed in California with $15 million in grant funding from the program.

Applications are due by January 7, 2019.

Why is it critical to address this challenge now?

Despite significant advances in breast cancer treatment, people continue to be diagnosed with breast cancer at astounding rates – rates that have remained unchanged over the past three decades. Of the approximately $2 billion spent on breast cancer research each year, less than 10 percent is dedicated to prevention research. The opportunity for discovery is immense, and the time for breakthroughs is now -- to help prevent the more than 2 million breast cancers that are diagnosed each year.

Who can participate?

Individuals and teams who have bold ideas for advancing breast cancer primary prevention. We are accepting applications in two categories: one for researchers and one for advocates, which we are defining as anyone who is not a researcher or scientist. Applications from advocates will be judged in a separate category from, and on par with, those from researchers. In order to be eligible for the advocate/non-researcher category, the sole/primary applicant must not be a researcher or scientist, and no team members may be researchers or scientists.

You do not have to be a member of a team to apply. Individuals are welcome and encouraged to apply, and we anticipate that most applications will come from individuals. Multiple individuals may submit an idea together as a team, but the team must have a lead applicant who submits the idea and accepts any award on behalf of the team. Ideas submitted by individuals and by teams will be judged by the same criteria, and there is no advantage to submitting as a team.

This is a "global challenge" because we are looking for ideas from across the world. Applications must be submitted in English, and research ideas must be able to be carried out by researchers in the state of California, but there is no restriction on the nationality or the geographical location of the applicant, other than countries subject to prohibition by the U.S. government, as described in the challenge rules.

How will submissions be assessed?

All eligible applications will be judged by members of an Evaluation Panel composed of respected researchers and advocates. Three members of the Evaluation Panel will be assigned to each submission and will score applications based on the challenge's three criteria – boldness, impact, and relevance – as well as provide high-level comments on the idea. Ten to 12 finalists will be selected to present their ideas to a prominent Selection Committee at a public event, which will be live-streamed. Two award winners – one in the advocate category and one in the researcher category – will be named at this event.

Who owns the intellectual property of submitted ideas?

Because the Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer aims to catalyze the field of breast cancer primary prevention research, we are eager to share all ideas with as wide an audience as possible. Ideas are submitted to the challenge under a CC BY license. When you submit an idea to the challenge, you are allowing the organizers to further develop your idea (with attribution to you), and the idea will no longer be exclusively yours.

The most promising ideas generated from the challenge will help inform $15 million in grant funding that CBCRP will disseminate over the next five years. Those who win the challenge will have the opportunity to work with CBCRP to craft a concept paper based on the idea that will form the basis for a research funding opportunity, and then have the opportunity to serve as a consultant to teams that receive grants. Alternatively, winners based in California or collaborating with a California-based scientist can instead elect to submit a grant proposal for funding.

Once CBCRP develops its requests for proposals based on ideas from the competition, all applicants (with the exception of a winner who chooses to work with CBCRP on the concept paper) may submit a grant application for funding, as long as the principal investigator is based in California.

All entries may be made public at the conclusion of the competition, at the discretion of CBCRP, whether or not the applicant is named a finalist or winner.

What are the awards?

The winner in the advocate category and the winner in the research category will each receive:

  • A cash prize of $5,000
  • Public recognition for the idea, including being featured on CBCRP's website, as well as attribution in future funding opportunities based on the proposed concept and other references to the idea
  • The opportunity to work with CBCRP to bring their research idea to fruition

Winners will have the opportunity to work with CBCRP to craft a concept paper, which will form the basis for a research funding opportunity. Winners will also be invited to serve as a consultant to teams that receive a grant from the funding opportunity based on their submitted idea.

Winners based in California or collaborating with California-based researchers may instead apply to the funding opportunity that results from their idea. (This opportunity is only available to researchers in California or collaborating with California-based researchers, and winners electing to compete for research funding may not participate in the development of the concept paper.)

What are you really looking for?

We are interested in surfacing breakthrough ideas that will catalyze the field of breast cancer prevention research.

Ideas must:

  • address primary prevention of breast cancer,
  • focus on prevention, not just understanding the causes of breast cancer, and
  • be aimed at reducing breast cancer in whole populations, not just in groups at highest risk.

Applications must present research concepts that are implementable in California and can be advanced in a significant way within five years.

We would be excited to hear about ideas related to:

  • Systems-level interventions and population-wide prevention
  • Analysis of the effects of natural experiments
  • Private and public policy
  • Reducing exposure to cancer-causing and endocrine-disrupting chemicals
  • Changing lifestyle and behavioral factors at the systems level
  • Factors in the built environment that may be influencing disease
  • Addressing social/cultural institutions and practices that result in some populations being disproportionally affected

The following topics are out of scope for this challenge:

  • Secondary, tertiary, or quaternary prevention
  • Proposals involving chemoprevention (i.e. taking medication to lower the risk of breast cancer)
  • Interventions or studies focused on high-risk populations
  • Basic research that seeks to further understand mechanisms or causes of breast cancer, but does not propose an intervention or solution

How big an idea can I propose?

The winning ideas from the challenge will help direct how CBCRP spends $15 million in grant funding. CBCRP anticipates funding several research projects across a range of topics through this initiative. The average amount of funding for a project is likely to be approximately $1 million, although the size will vary: some projects may require only $100,000 in funding, and some high-priority topics may lead to multiple projects totaling several million dollars. Ideas proposed in the challenge can therefore vary greatly in size and scope.

What is the California Breast Cancer Research Program?

The California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP) is the sponsor of the Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer. The mission of CBCRP is to prevent and eliminate breast cancer by leading innovation in research, communication, and collaboration in the California scientific and lay communities. CBCRP is the largest state-funded breast cancer research effort in the nation and is administered by the Research Grants Program Office within the University of California Office of the President. CBCRP is funded through the tobacco tax, voluntary tax contributions on personal California income tax forms and individual donations. Since 1994, CBCRP has awarded over $280 million in research funds to institutions across California. CBCRP strives to push research in areas that are often underfunded or overlooked, including environmental exposures, health disparities, and primary prevention.

Learn more about CBCRP at