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It is with great enthusiasm that the Department of Urology announces that a multidisciplinary research team at UNC has been awarded a prestigious Idea Development Award from the US Department of Defense Kidney Cancer Research Program (KCRP).

Hung-Jui (Ray) Tan, MD, MSHPM (UNC School of Medicine Department of Urology), alongside co-investigators Alison Lazard, PhD (School of Media and Journalism), Lixin (LEE) Song, RN, PHD, FAAN (School of Nursing), and Matthew Nielsen, MD, MS, FACS (UNC School of Medicine Department of Urology) have been awarded a 3-year, $929,618 grant to improve the decision-making experience for patients by personalizing how they receive information about their possible kidney cancer. The project will build from an existing clinical trial supported by the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“We are truly excited to investigate how we can apply different communication strategies to promote better information processing and provide greater support for patients making a decision on how to best manage their small renal mass.”

Hung-Jui (Ray) Tan, MD, MSHPM
Urologic Oncology Fellowship Program Director
Assistant Professor of Urology


More About the Project

In 2020, most patients diagnosed with kidney cancer will have early-stage disease. While these so-called “small renal masses” carry a good prognosis, patients face difficult decisions. These cancers are highly curable with surgery or treatment with thermal energy, but they may also do well with observation without the risks of treatment-related death, pain, injury, and long-term kidney disease. This generates uncertainty and conflict – making a potentially unsatisfying decision-making experience.

Drs. Tan’s, Lazard’s, Song’s, and Nielsen’s project is designed to improve the decision-making experience by personalizing how patients receive information about their possible kidney cancer.

Combining expertise in kidney cancer, health communication, and decision-making research, the team will use both direct patient input (qualitative) and numeric data (quantitative) to define, build, and test personalized communication for patients with early-stage kidney cancer.

Overall, this proposal addresses two Kidney Cancer Research Program areas of emphasis:

  • To improve the Survivorship and Patient Experience by optimizing decision-making
  • To ensure broad scalability through an Outcomes/Population-based design.

About the KCRP

In FY17 the U.S. Congress directed $10 million to kidney cancer research in the Department of Defense appropriation, thus establishing the Kidney Cancer Research Program (KCRP).  The KCRP has continued its focus on issues regarding prevention, detection, treatment, including the long-term effects of kidney cancer treatment, and building capacity with next-generation investigators and resources for novel kidney cancer treatments for Service Members, Veterans, their families, and the American public.  The KCRP has developed a strategic plan that articulates the most critical needs in kidney cancer and the research it seeks to promote.

KCRP Strategic Overarching Goals are:

  • Increase understanding of the biology of kidney cancer
  • Develop novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of kidney cancer
  • Improve patient care for kidney cancer
  • Grow the field and increase collaboration around kidney cancer

For additional details regarding the program’s strategic goals and focus areas, visit their website at:

About the KCRP Idea Development Award

The KCRP Idea Development Award mechanism was first offered in FY17. As of 2021, 326 Idea Development Award applications have been received (260 Established Investigators [EIs] and 66 Early Career Investigators [ECIs]), and 51 have been recommended for funding (34 EIs and 17 ECIs).

The FY21 KCRP Idea Development Award is intended to support innovative ideas and high-impact approaches, based on scientifically sound evidence, to move toward the KCRP vision of eliminating kidney cancer.