Microbial-based Cancer Therapy -Bugs as Drugs (R01, R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Funding Agency:
National Institutes of Health

The overall purpose of this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is to stimulate the development of novel microbial-based cancer therapies, especially for conditions where conventional cancer therapies are inadequate, such as poorly vascularized, hypoxic, solid tumors, dormant or slowly dividing cells resistant to current interventions, and brain tumors. Utilizing bacteria, archaebacteria, bacteriophages and other non-virus microorganisms, this initiative will support research projects designed to study the underlying mechanisms of the complex interactions between microorganisms, tumor, and immune system. The FOA also aims to support research into the use of microorganisms as delivery vehicles for cancer treatment and to complement or synergize with current therapies.  This FOA will accept basic mechanistic and preclinical studies in cell culture and animal models in accordance with the state of the science. Applicants applying to this FOA are encouraged to address both the microbial and the tumor aspects of microbial-based cancer therapy.

Complex microbial-tumor interactions are best addressed with a team approach. The purpose of this FOA is to encourage basic or applied, multidisciplinary research collaborations between investigators from areas relevant to microbial-based cancer therapy, such as microbiology, oncology, immunology, and cellular and molecular cancer biology. The proposed projects should be state of the art and aim to advance pre-clinical development of novel microbial-based anticancer therapeutic agents, or study the complex biology involved in the interplay of microbe-tumor-immune system. An application may propose design-directed, developmental, discovery-driven, or hypothesis-driven research, and should apply an integrative approach to increase our understanding of biological, or translational aspects of microbial-based anticancer therapeutic agents.

This FOA runs in parallel with an FOA of identical scientific scope, PAR-19-194, which uses the Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21) mechanism.


  • Letter of Intent Due Date(s): 30 days prior to the application due date
  • R01 Due Date(s): Feb. 5, Jun. 5, Oct. 5
  • R21 Due Dates: Feb. 16, Jun. 16, Oct. 16

​PAR-19-193 Expiration Date May 8, 2022




Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Translational

External Deadline

February 5, 2021