Request for Proposals: Chronic pain research

March 1, 2023


Cancer pain is a complex, temporally changing symptom, which arises from three primary pathophysiologic mechanisms – nociceptive, neuropathic, and psychogenic. Nociceptive pain arises from chemical, mechanical, or thermal injury to tissue that is identified by the central nervous system (CNS), resulting in the perception of pain. In contrast, neuropathic pain develops following injury to the peripheral nervous system or the CNS. In cancer, neuropathic pain may be a result of damage caused by chemotherapy or infiltration and damage caused by a tumor. Pain from psychogenic mechanisms is rarer in cancer, however, emotional distress can contribute to the experience of pain and an individual’s ability to cope.  

Overall, pain is a subjective experience that can be modified by individual genetics, history, mood, expectation, and culture, as well as the underlying disease process. Chronic pain has a less distinct onset, a prolonged and fluctuating course, and is largely driven by central sensitization and neuroplastic responses from acute injury. Breakthrough pain can occur in both acute and chronic pain and is a transitory increase of pain that may be associated with movement or activity, end-of-dose failure or be non-incidental. 

According to the Society for Integrative Oncology–ASCO Guidelines for Integrative Medicine for Pain Management in Oncology, acupuncture should be recommended for aromatase inhibitor–related joint pain. Acupuncture or reflexology or acupressure may be recommended for general cancer pain or musculoskeletal pain. Hypnosis may be recommended to patients who experience procedural pain. Massage may be recommended to patients experiencing pain during palliative or hospice care. These recommendations are based on an intermediate level of evidence, benefit outweighing risk, and with moderate strength of recommendation. The quality of evidence for other mind-body interventions or natural products for pain is either low or inconclusive. There is insufficient or inconclusive evidence to make recommendations for pediatric patients. More research is needed to better characterize the role of integrative medicine interventions in the care of patients with cancer. 

Request for Proposals 

This request for proposals (RFP) was designed based on patient needs. It will focus on interventions for the prevention and/or treatment of cancer-related chronic pain. Specifically, the RFP welcomes proposals focused on all types of cancer-related chronic pain, including but not limited to post-surgical pain, lymphedema-related pain, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, phantom pain, aromatase inhibitor-related joint pain, referred pain, and bone metastasis pain.  

Research Topics 

  • Clinical trials looking at increasing the use of integrative medicine through evidence. 
  • Clinical trials looking at repurposing of off patent compounds. 

Study outcomes should include well validated clinical and patient-reported outcomes. We encourage trials that include adult or pediatric populations.  

Phase II or III clinical trials are strongly encouraged. Other well-designed studies, such as comparative effectiveness trials may be considered. 

Please note that interventions including dietary products are not eligible for this RFP. 


Rising Tide Foundation for Clinical Cancer Research (RTFCCR) will grant up to USD 2 million in 2023. The awards will be selected in a competitive manner and will be of two kinds: 

  • Pilot studies worth USD 50,000 – USD 100,000 (100% funding from RTFCCR) 
  • Large scale clinical trials with RTFCCR contribution capped between USD 200,000 – USD 1,000,000 (RTFCCR provides up to a maximum of 50% of the clinical trial total cost) 

Patient Involvement in Research 

We define patient involvement as meaningful involvement of patients in the development of detection, therapeutic, or symptom management approaches. It encompasses the active, meaningful, and collaborative interaction between patients and researchers across all stages of the research process, where research decision-making is guided by patients’ contributions as partners, recognizing their specific experiences, values, and expertise. 

We adopt the definition of patient partner provided by Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). PCORI’s definition of patient partners includes patients (those with lived experience), family members, caregivers, and the organizations that are representative of the population of interest in a particular study. 

It is important that patient partners are not confused with trial participants; patient partners are members of the research team and involved in the planning, conducting, and dissemination of the research, whereas trial participants are those individuals actually enrolled in the study. 

The strategy, modalities, and budgets for patient involvement, related deliverables, and expected outcomes are to be included in the grant budget and clearly described in the grant application. Please refer to our funding guidelines for more information. 

How to apply 

1) Letter of Intent phase (Deadline: August 4, 2023) 

We receive Letters of Intent (LOIs) through our online grant management platform SmartSimple (SmartSimple | Rising Tide Foundation). LOIs will be assessed by internal staff and advisory board members. The most promising LOIs aligning with this request for proposal topics will be invited to submit a full grant application.  

2) Full proposal phase (Deadline: September 22, 2023) 

Full grant applications are also submitted through SmartSimple and reviewed by our Grant Review Committee (GRC), a panel of external experts carrying out a comprehensive scientific review. Each application will be independently analyzed and ranked by the scientific peer reviewers, patient experts and a biostatistician on the panel. Recommendations made by the GRC and RTFCCR advisory board will then be submitted to the Rising Tide Board of Directors in December 2023 for final funding approval.  

Artwork Emotional Comfort has been created by Shirley Bianca, here you find more information on our Patient Arts for Health Global Exhibition



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