CCIL High-throughput Screening Support Grants

The Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL) has partnered with the High-throughput Screening Facility (HTSF) within the School of Chemical Sciences to provide funding support to researchers interested in using the facility to advance cancer research. Priority will be given to projects where screens are fully developed and ready for implementation at the HTSF. While assay/screen development costs will not be covered within this initiative, the CCIL will provide support for expenses related to use of the HTSF and screening.

This RFP is aimed at facilitating new compound discovery by helping to identify new anticancer compounds and identify/explore novel biological targets for anticancer therapy.

The CCIL hopes that the data collected can be used as preliminary data to support the development of competitive extramural proposals and that compounds discovered can ultimately be developed to benefit cancer patients.

The High-throughput Screening Facility

The High-throughput Screening Facility (HTSF) at UIUC assists researchers in developing and performing high-throughput screens of chemical libraries. Currently, the HTSF contains over 280,000 small molecules for screening, including an extensive library of cancer compounds. Through staff-assisted screening, users have access to facility equipment including liquid handlers, plate readers, and the small molecule libraries. Services provided by the HTSF include (1) assay development and optimization, (2) access to compound libraries and (3) worry-free screening, (4) equipment resources, (5) data analysis and follow-up assays, and (6) mammalian cell culture.


  • Assay Development and Optimization: The HTSF can help develop biochemical or cell based assays using plate-based imaging, absorbance, fluorescence or luminescence, and alpha detection. Potential targets for screens include enzymes, signal transduction pathways, gene regulatory proteins, micro RNAs, membrane receptors, transporters and other macromolecules important in cell growth, differentiation and signaling. The facility can also optimize assays more suitable for high-throughput screening, thus saving reagent costs.
  • Access to Compound Libraries: The HTSF has chemical libraries containing approximately 280,000- small molecules in ~870 microtiter plates, which are easy to assay in 96- or 384-well plate formats. The facility can screen a small subset of plates or the entire library, a substantial portion of these compounds have been purchased in the last 6 months.
  • Worry-free Screening: Once you provide your protein/DNA/cell and protocol, the entire screening can be performed at the facility and the data sent directly to you. The facility has robotic equipment for protein-based and cell-based assays using 96- or 384-well plates. Optical readouts include imaging, absorbance, fluorescence intensity, fluorescence polarization, FRET, time-resolved fluorescence, luminescence, BRET, and alpha technology.
  • Equipment Resources: The HTSF provides equipment resources your laboratory personnel can use to develop assays and/or carry out a screen. The facility has sophisticated robotic liquid handling equipment which can dispense nanoliter and microliter volumes into 96- and 384-well plates. The plate readers are all automated for screening stacks of microplates.
  • Data Analysis and Follow-up Assays: Assistance with data analysis is done upon request. Assistance with hit validation and performing further testing of your macromolecule target and compound (e., dose-response curves, kinetic measurement, toxicity assays) can also be provided.
  • Mammalian Cell Culture: With its separate cell culture room, the facility can assist with cell-based screens and cell-based follow up assays. Researchers lacking a cell culture area in their lab can use the facility’s cell culture space to perform cell-based experiments.


A lead principal investigator (PI) who assumes organizational leadership for the project may submit for this RFP. A faculty member may only be PI on one submitted project; however, there is no limit to serving as co-investigator on other projects. Projects of PIs who are existing CCIL members will be given priority.

Proposal Preparation

Proposal sections should not exceed the page limits below (single space, 0.5-inch margins, Arial 11-point font, including figures and tables). Supplemental attachments are not permitted.

Cover sheet/Title page: (1 page)

  • This page must include the project title, the names of the PI (and other research team members, if any) and their rank, primary affiliation, and contact information.

Project Abstract: (1 page)

  • Write in plain language, so even a non-scientist can understand the importance of the project
  • Limit length to 30 lines or less of text
  • Include the project’s broad, long-term objectives and specific aims
  • Include a description of the research design and methods for achieving the stated goal

Project Narrative & Milestones: (2 pages, including graphics)

  • Described the background on the proposed target, including its cancer relevance and its potential for broad impact
  • Discuss how the screen will be conducted, including any preliminary results that demonstrate the feasibility of the screen
  • Describe the role and qualifications of the PI, co-investigators, and other members of the team (if any)
  • Provide a list of scientific and organizational timeline/milestones for the year of support being requested

References cited (1 page, include titles of papers)

Budget and Budget Justification: (1 page)

  • Provide a budget estimate, with narrative justification, for the desired screen. Indirect costs and salaries for the PIs are not permissible. Applicants are encouraged to work with Director Vishnu Krishnamurthy,

Investigator biosketch (2 pages at end of the proposal)

  • The biosketch should highlight the PI and co-I (if any) qualifications for the proposed project.

Funding Expectations and Restrictions

Award funds will go directly to the HTSF to support projects, and applicants are encouraged to consult with the HTSF to get a budget estimate before submitting a proposal. 

Funding of proposals will enable screening the compound collections at the HTSF without cost, including reasonable follow-up assays/hit verification. CCIL will determine the level of support provided based on the budget estimate received with each proposal, and the cancer focus and cancer relevance of the proposed project. Project costs may include supplies, staff time, and research facility use fees. Funds cannot be used for any part of tenure track faculty salaries. Funds will not be awarded retrospectively for work already completed by the HTSF.

Review Criteria

Each proposal will be evaluated on its scientific merits and potential for impact, including its potential to generate data that can then be used by the PI in future proposals, and the potential for any compounds identified to be advanced to help cancer patients.