Interested in childhood cancer survivorship research? Apply now for support to get started.

The Career Development Award from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) was the first grant Nicole Alberts, PhD, received as a faculty member. The award provided $20,000 to develop a smartphone app to study chronic pain in adult survivors of pediatric cancer. 

That was 2018. Alberts was a research associate in the Department of Psychology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, just two years out of her postdoctoral fellowship.

Today she is an associate professor at Concordia University in Montreal and a nominee for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Canada Research Chair Tier 2, designed to recognize emerging world-class researchers.

“The CCSS award helped to launch my research,” she said. “I arrived at St. Jude with a lot of ideas. Thanks to the grant, I was able to work with a team of mentors to develop those ideas and then focus on the prevalence and risk factors for chronic pain—a common, yet under-studied issue among survivors of childhood cancer.”

Applications are now open

Applications are being accepted for the 2021 CCSS Career Development Awards for junior faculty and trainees. The awards are open to candidates from all nations, not just institutions affiliated with CCSS. The deadline to apply is Thursday, October 1, at 5 p.m. CT.

The award provides financial support and mentorship for one person in each professional category to develop and complete a CCSS research project. Eligible projects include analysis of CCSS data or pilot studies to support external CCSS grant applications.

CCSS began in 1994, as survival rates for childhood cancer were improving along with questions about the long-term consequences of survivorship for survivors, families and society. The goal was to increase survival and decrease late effects of diagnosis and treatment. Funding came from the National Cancer Institute and others. Today, CCSS includes more than 20,000 individuals who were diagnosed with cancer as children or adolescents plus 4,000 siblings without a pediatric cancer diagnosis. There are more than 25 participating institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

Greg Armstrong, MD, of the St. Jude Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control is the CCSS principal investigator.

“The award gives early-career investigators and those still in training a chance to pursue their interest in childhood cancer survivorship research along with the support and time to lay the foundation for a research career in the field,” Armstrong said.

The support includes the CCSS working groups to formulate research hypotheses as well as systematic data access, research design and analysis methodology plus a chance to develop collaborations. Junior faculty are eligible for up to $20,000 for one year plus indirect costs. Clinical and postdoctoral fellows, residents and graduate students are eligible for up to $3,000.

Building a research foundation

Alberts is finishing up analysis of data gathered as part of the grant and plans to submit her findings for publication. She has already presented the research at a poster session during the most recent meeting of the International Psycho-Oncology Society. The preliminary data also helped support a grant application.

“The CCSS award, and the mentorship it provided, helped lay the foundation for my research in childhood cancer survivorship and set me up for the next phase of my career,” she said.

For more information, visit 2021 CDA call for applications.


About the author

Mary Powers is a former member of the Strategic Communications, Education and Outreach Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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