W.M. Keck Foundation: Science & Engineering/Medical Research Program

Sponsor Name: 
W.M. Keck Foundation
Description of the Award: 

The Keck Foundation supports basic research projects that are high-risk and have the potential for transformative impact in two program areas: Science & Engineering Research and Medical Research. Recent awards have supported pioneering research, with a particular focus on the development of promising new technologies, instrumentation, or methodologies. The Foundation has been holding requests to no more than $1 million in direct costs; awards may fund multi-year projects over a period of up to five years.

Projects must be high-impact, high-risk, quantum leaps forward in their fields. Competitive projects typically exhibit the following characteristics:

  1. Focus on important and emerging areas of basic science research with the potential to develop breakthrough technologies, instrumentation or methodologies that would break down existing barriers to inquiry.
  2. Are innovative, distinctive and interdisciplinary with the potential for transformative impact across a number of fields and potential applications.
  3. Exhibit a high-level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm.
  4. Demonstrate that the chances of success would be seriously impaired without private funding. Projects that are too early-stage, high-risk, or interdisciplinary to fit within traditional agency funding mechanisms are sought. In fact, Keck looks for assurance that other avenues of funding have been declined. More than speculating on the prospects of public funding, reviews or discussions with agency program staff should be pursued. A project that has received excellent reviews from NSF/NIH, but dismissed as too risky, ambitious, etc. would be considered optimal.

Keep in mind the focus is on basic science with the potential broad impact; not translational, clinical, or applied science. For example, Medical Research proposals should describe innovative research that has the potential to impact fundamental mechanisms of human health and disease. Proposals that focus exclusively on a single disease are not likely to be funded, as the Foundation is more interested in endeavors that address more basic mechanisms/questions that will impact a number of diseases or disorders.

Application Process:

The submission process is multi-staged, starting with a consulting period where the foundation will review 1-page concepts from an institution. From the pool of concepts submitted to this downselect, the internal review committee will select up to eight papers (four each in Science & Engineering/Medical Research) that are consistent with Keck’s funding priorities. Selected teams will have the opportunity to refine these papers based on internal reviews in preparation for sharing by Keck program staff. Keck feedback on each concept’s aims, methodologies, impacts, and rationale for support will be obtained by August 15. As a result, up to two projects (one each in Science & Engineering/Medical Research) may be selected to submit a 3-page Phase I proposal by November 1. Successful Phase I proposals are invited to submit a 12-page Phase II proposal by February 15.

To apply to the internal downselect, submit an application using the button on the right-hand menu bar.

The Office of Corporate & Foundation Relations (CFR) is the designated institutional contact responsible for communicating with the Foundation and is collaborating with Limited Submissions on the internal downselect process. Questions concerning the application process or the competitiveness of particular concepts should be directed to Eric Reinhard, Associate Director of Foundation Relations (3-4308 or ereinhard@psu.edu

Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Nov 01, 2017
To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Sunday, July 2, 2017 - 4:00pm