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Many Pathways to Cancer: Identifying Exposures Linked to the Key Characteristics of Carcinogens

A funding opportunity to identify chemicals and other environmental exposures that influence the development of breast cancer.

This initiative aims to address the urgent need to identify chemicals and other environmental exposures that influence the development of breast cancer by (1) developing new assays to fill gaps in coverage for key characteristics of carcinogens relevant for breast cancer, (2) analyzing results from existing assays and/or (3) identifying new biomarkers relevant to the key characteristics of carcinogens that can be applied as early effect markers for breast cancer in studies in women.

CBCRP intends to fund up to three proposals for a maximum duration of three years and $560,000 maximum total direct costs each.  

Download the RFP below:

Full Request for Proposals (RFP)

Application materials will be available through CBCRP's SmartSimple application and grant management system on September 1, 2023.

Applications must be submitted by 12:00 noon PT on Thursday, November 9, 2023. 

Application Orientation Webinar

We held an applicant webinar in September at which we described the requirements for this funding opportunity and provided an orientation for the navigating the application process in SmartSimple.

View the video and slides below:

For questions or more information, contact CBCRP Program Officer Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D. at

Research Questions, Approaches and Methods 

For more than two decades, researchers working to understand cancer have identified changes that occur in cells and tissues to promote carcinogenesis. Studies examining these “hallmarks of cancer” have led to the development of therapeutics to treat cancers including breast cancer. Yet, studies focusing on the features of cancer as a disease have provided few insights into the identification of environmental agents that act as carcinogens. Relatively new approaches are now asking whether there are shared characteristics of the agents that cause cancer, and whether reliable assays can be developed to define these “key characteristics” of carcinogens. This RFP aims to address three related challenges:

  • Current methods used to screen and test chemicals for carcinogenic properties do not fully encompass the diverse mechanisms by which agents may cause breast cancer;
  • Data that are already available from in vitro and short-term in vivo bioassays could be better leveraged to predict outcomes relevant to breast cancer, prioritize agents for further testing, and improve the identification of new breast carcinogens;
  • There is a need to identify biomarkers for a broader range of effects relevant to breast carcinogens and apply these biomarkers to studies of women to characterize risk in highly exposed populations.

A variety of possible approaches are possible, including new experiments and analysis of existing data.

  1. Development of new in silico, in vitro, and/or short-term in vivo assays to fill gaps in coverage of the assays for key characteristics of carcinogens relevant for breast cancer causation.  The ultimate goal is to develop highly predictive methods to identify potential breast carcinogens that can be prioritized for further testing and/or hazard identification and classification. 

  2. Compile published and publicly available results from in silico, in vitro and short-term in vivo assays that are relevant to key characteristics of carcinogens and specifically to breast carcinogenesis. The overall aim is to advance the use of data from these new approach toxicology methods to 1) predict in vivo outcomes relevant to breast cancer, 2) prioritize agents for further testing and assessment, 3) aid identification of new breast carcinogens, and 4) inform the integration of these data into policy. 

  3. Identify new biomarkers of endpoints relevant to the key characteristics of carcinogens that can be applied in short-term studies of suspected breast carcinogens in women. These biomarkers would focus on biological endpoints of carcinogenic effects, rather than biomarkers of exposure.

Project requirements

Advocacy involvement is a requirement for the research funded under this initiative. Applications should include a California community advocate affiliated with an advocacy and/or community organization with an interest in the area of biomonitoring, environmental exposures and breast cancer to be actively involved in the project

Proposals must include plans for dissemination and translation of newly discovered/developed methods and results. The applicants should address the likely relevance to both future research and current policy discussions. The applications should include plans to disseminate results to breast cancer advocates, policymakers, and the larger public, beyond publication in the scientific literature. The project team’s community advocate(s) should play a substantive role in formulating and helping carry out the proposed dissemination plan.

Project duration and budget cap

CBCRP intends to fund up to three Awards.

  • Maximum direct cost budget: $560,000
  • Maximum project duration: 3 years