Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award

Funding Agency:
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation

The Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award supports independent young physician-scientists conducting disease-oriented research that demonstrates a high level of innovation and creativity. The goal is to support the best young physician-scientists doing work aimed at improving the practice of cancer medicine. 

The Clinical Investigator Award responds to three recognized realities:

  • Though there has never been a more pressing need or more promising time for clinical cancer research, fewer young physicians enter this area of investigation every year.
  • The number of institutions committed to training young physicians in the scientific discipline and methodologies of clinical investigation is critically low.
  • The burden of medical school debt (averaging over $100,000) discourages many physicians from pursuing clinical investigation.

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation’s award offers solutions to these realities. The awardee will receive financial support for three years, as well as assistance with certain research costs such as the purchase of equipment. The Foundation will also retire up to $100,000 of any medical school debt still owed by the awardee.

The Clinical Investigator Award program is specifically intended to provide outstanding young physicians with the resources and training structure essential to becoming successful clinical investigators. The goal is to increase the number of physicians capable of moving seamlessly between the laboratory and the patient’s bedside in search of breakthrough treatments.

Duke is invited to nominate five (5) such outstanding individuals committed to productive careers in clinical cancer research. Only DCI members are eligible. 


  • Duke Internal: Submit materials to to Dena Buchanan at dena.buchanan@duke.edu by Wednesday , December 16th 2020
  • Application Deadline: February 1, 2021

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

For the purposes of this award, the Foundation’s definition of clinical research will follow the definition set out in “The NIH Director’s Panel on Clinical Research Report to The Advisory Committee to The NIH Director,” December, 1997.

a) Patient-oriented research: Research conducted with human subjects (or on material of human origin such as tissues, specimens and cognitive phenomena) for which an investigator directly interacts with human subjects. This area of research includes: patient-based studies of mechanisms of human disease, diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, clinical trials and development of new technologies for the detection, treatment and prevention of human cancers.
b) Epidemiologic and behavioral studies.
c) Outcomes research and health services research.

Excluded from this definition are in vitro studies that utilize human tissues but do not deal directly with patients.  In other words, clinical or patient-oriented research is research in which it is necessary to know the identity of the patient(s) from whom the cells or tissues under study are derived.

Preference will be given to research that adheres to the “Handshake Rule,” meaning that the physician will conduct research studies that directly involve patients.

Eligibility Requirements

  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident.
  • The applicant must hold an independent assistant professor position or equivalent. 
  • Each applicant must be nominated by their institution. Applications will only be accepted from institutions that have been invited to submit them by the Foundation (See list). Five (5) nominations per institution, including its affiliated schools, will be accepted. 
  • The applicant must have received an MD, DO, or MD/PhD degree(s) from an accredited institution, completed their subspecialty training and be U.S. Board eligible.
  • The applicant must hold a valid, active U.S. medical license at the time of application.
  • The applicant must apply within the first five (5) years of their initial full faculty appointment (Cut-off date: July 1, 2016). Adjunct or acting positions are not eligible.
  • Candidates holding or awarded R01s at the time of application are not eligible to apply.
  • The applicant must commit to spending 80% of their time conducting research. [In rare unique circumstances, the CIA Committee may consider an applicant with a very modest reduction of 80% protected time if their Department Chair can provide a compelling reason explaining why a waiver of the 80% requirement should be granted, what percentage of effort will be guaranteed, and what safeguards will be put in place to make sure the individual’s research will not be compromised by their clinical/administrative activities.]
  • The applicant is required to apply in conjunction with a Mentor who is established in the field of clinical translational cancer research, cancer prevention and/or epidemiology and can provide the critical guidance needed during the period of the award.  No more than two Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators will be funded to work with the same Mentor at any given time (including Co-Mentors).
  • Candidates may apply up to two times during this eligibility period. 
  • Only one application will be accepted from a Mentor per review session (including Co-Mentors).



Amount Description

Payments: For each year of eligibility, the Foundation will pay directly to each lender an amount representing the total payments owed by the participant for all qualifying loans for that year up to an aggregate maximum of $30,000 (“Annual Debt Payments”).  If the participant has qualifying loans with annual payments in excess of $30,000, the Foundation, in its discretion, will determine which loans it will pay.  Upon the successful completion of the Clinical Investigator Award, the Foundation will pay the lending institutions the remaining balance on any outstanding loans up to a maximum of $100,000 total (“Final Payment”).  If the participant does not demonstrate a continuing commitment to clinical research upon the completion of the Clinical Investigator Award, the Foundation reserves the right to withhold the Final Payment.

Funding Type


Duke Awardees

2014 - Stephen T. Oh, MD, PhD
Doris Duke-Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator
"Targeting aberrant signaling pathways in myeloproliferative neoplasms" with Daniel C. Link, MD, at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

2012 - Oren J. Becher, MD
"Regional differences in central nervous system gliomagenesis" with Darell D. Bigner, MD, PhD, and Katherine E. Warren, MD at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

2010 - Tobias J.E. Carling, MD, PhD
Doris Duke-Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator
"Molecular genetics of endocrine tumor disease" with Richard P. Lifton, MD, PhD, and Robert Udelsman, MD, MBA, at the Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut

2005 - Phillip Febbo
"Mechanisms of Docetaxel Resistance in Hormone Refractory Prostate Center"
2004 - Jeremy Rich, M.D.
Maximizing clinical efficacy of epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors in glioblastoma therapy



Junior Faculty


Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational

Internal Nomination

To be considered for nomination, the following should be submitted in one PDF to Dena Buchanan at dena.buchanan@duke.edu by Wednesday , December 16th 2020. The DCI’s Scientific Review Committee will review all internal applications and select their nominations no later than Monday, January 4, 2021.

  1. Applicant’s NIH biosketch
  2. Mentor’s NIH biosketch
  3. 2 pages including the following:
    1. Applicant’s eligibility
    2. Outline of the position of the applicant and mentor
    3. Summary of the mentor’s training record for the past 10 years
    4. Brief description of the research proposal
  4. Budget and budget justification

Those selected as nominees will then follow the application instructions (provided in the link below) to submit a full application.


The 2021 application deadline is Monday, February 1, 2021.  For detailed information about the award, eligibility criteria, application guidelines and forms, please visit the below link.




Internal Deadline

December 16, 2020

External Deadline

February 1, 2021