2024 Team Shark Tank Competition

Calling all Trainees! Jump in the tank and get funding for you and your team’s innovative research ideas!

Similar to the 2023 Retreat, the 2024 Hillman Scientific Retreat will include Team Shark Tank presentations and awards. The purpose of the Team Shark Tank presentations is to present high-risk, high-reward research ideas developed by research teams and to support the professional development of trainees.

Award information: Those invited to present will receive a minimum award of $10,000 to support the initiation of a novel research project. Based on the presentation at the Retreat, the most promising projects may receive additional funding and in-kind support.

Topic Proposal: These pilot funds are intended to spur the development of high-risk, high-reward ideas from existing research teams that lead to future funding, emphasizing the role of trainees within the team. No preliminary data are required. Projects should reflect the scope of an R21 rather than an R01. Ineligible research includes that which is already being supported with other funds. Priority will be given to ideas that emphasize the role of the trainees in innovating and executing novel research questions.

Eligibility: Team Shark Tank is open to research teams throughout the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. A team must include at least one principal investigator and one trainee (trainee defined as someone not yet in a faculty or staff position). The team principal investigator must be a UPMC Hillman Cancer Center member. If you are not sure if you are a member of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, please contact Serena Holliday (hollidaysm3@upmc.edu). Both the principal investigator and trainee must be willing to share their project idea and share their findings with Hillman Cancer Center in the future. Only the trainee will be permitted to present for their team.

Applicants must be able to present in person on September 20th if selected for the Team Shark Tank event. Potential applicants are encouraged to reach out to Retreat Co-Chairs Drs. Ben Nacev, Yi-Nan Gong, and Teresa Hagan Thomas (nacevba@upmc.edu;  gongy2@upmc.edu; t.thomas@pitt.edu) to clarify eligibility.

Deadline: August 12, 2024, 5:00 pm (No exceptions!)

Submission Instructions: Please submit:

Letter of Intent (LOI; 1 page maximum) that includes:

(1) the project title and hypothesis

(2) names of the principal investigator and trainee leading the project

(3) an outline of the project background/significance, aim(s), and methods

(4) a brief discussion of the project’s potential impact and future directions

(5) a discussion of the role of principal investigator and trainee in conducting the project

(6) brief statement regarding the project’s timeline

(7) budget justification

Applications should be merged into a single PDF and emailed to Serena Holliday (hollidaysm3@upmc.edu) by 5:00 pm on August 12, 2024.

An internal review committee comprised of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center senior leaders will select applicants for an oral presentation on Friday, September 20 during the 2024 Hillman Cancer Center Annual Scientific Retreat. Presentations will be scored on the novelty, significance, and impact of the project; quality of the presentation; and plan for the principal investigator and trainee to collaborate in ways that support the independence and leadership of the trainee.