Innovation Grants in the Basic and Social Sciences Funding Opportunity (Full Application)

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Innovation Grants in the Basic and Social Sciences

 Funding Opportunity


Request for Applications (RFA)

Full Application

Due: May 16, 2018 at 5:00pm EDT



I. Key Dates

Full Application Announcement---April 18, 2018

Full Applications Due---May 16, 2018 at 5:00pm EDT

Funding Decisions Announced---June 2018

Anticipated Funding Start Date---June 2018


II. Award Amount

To support innovative research projects based in HMS Quadrangle laboratories, grants will be awarded for up to $150,000 per PI per year, direct costs, for two years. A third year of funding may be awarded contingent on success in the first two years. A key indicator of success will be prospects for successful follow-on grant funding for the project from the NIH or another external funding source.


Applications for collaborative, interdisciplinary projects from two or more PIs/co-PIs from different HMS departments will be given preference. In all cases, the lead PI must be an HMS ladder faculty member with her/his primary laboratory on the Quad. Collaborative projects from PIs/co-PIs within the same HMS Quad department and applications from single PIs will also be considered. Especially encouraged are applications to “boost” existing projects to the point that they are competitive for external, full-IDC-bearing funding by the end of the second year.


Approximately $4 million will be awarded in this funding cycle. Additional funding cycles will run roughly every 6 months for the next few years.


III. Overview and Goals

Innovation Grants in the Basic and Social Sciences will fund exciting new discovery science, technology development projects, and studies that work to improve quality, costs and access to medical care. Funded projects are expected to lead to follow-on funding by generating preliminary data for NIH, foundation, or corporate grants. This program will support the best scholarship overall as well as areas of strategic focus that will be announced in future requests for proposals.

The goal of the Innovation Grant program is to substantially enhance existing projects in HMS Quad laboratories and existing or new collaborations between HMS faculty members. Awards may be used to provide support for creative graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who may bridge two or more labs. Support for staff members may be requested as well. However, to promote budget relief, it is preferred that funds are used as much as possible to support existing laboratory personnel.



IV. Eligibility

This is a two-part limited submission competition. In the pre-proposal phase, PIs submitted a 1.5-page Letter of Intent (LOI). Based on the LOIs, selected PIs were invited to submit a full application that will include a longer proposal, budget justification, as well as standard administrative documents.


Lead Principal Investigator (PI) Eligibility

Any faculty member who holds a Harvard Medical School Quad appointment as Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor, and whose laboratory is located on the HMS Quad and/or whose grants are managed by an HMS Quad Department, is eligible to be the lead PI. There can be a maximum of one lead PI per application.


Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) Eligibility

A Co-PI collaborator contributes to the intellectual development of the project, designs the study or a part thereof, and is involved with the study throughout the term of funding. Faculty members with appointments as Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor at HMS, other Harvard Schools, and HMS-affiliated institutions are eligible as Co-PIs. Instructors, Lecturers, and Trainees (e.g. students, clinical trainees, postdoctoral fellows, and clinical fellows) cannot serve as the Co-PI of an application.


At least one Co-PI is encouraged but not required. A limit of 4 Co-PIs may be listed on an application.


For the Letter of Intent round, researchers could submit only one application as PI or Co-PI.


For questions regarding eligibility, see contact information below in Section IX.


V. Allowable and Unallowable Costs

  • There will be a maximum of one new FTE allowed per PI/co-PI (graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, technical or professional staff).
  • All PIs and Co-PIs are expected to budget at least 5% salary and effort on the award. Faculty who are not permitted to budget salary on applications of this type (e.g. HHMI investigators) should budget effort but not salary.
  • Collaborative applications may request up to $150,000 per PI per year.
  • Single-PI applications may request up to $100,000 per year.
  • Co-PIs from other Harvard schools or HMS-affiliated institutions are asked to approach their school or home institution for matching funds: one half of the co-PI’s budget must be provided from non-HMS funds, ideally from their School or home institution. For example, if a co-PI from an HMS-affiliated institution requests a total budget of $150,000, $75,000 of this request would be provided by the Dean’s Initiative and $75,000 must be provided by other, non-HMS, sources.
  • For Co-PIs from HMS-affiliated institutions, a letter of support from the Department Head or Division Chief is required.  This letter needs to verify the source of matching funds.
  • Indirect costs required by other Harvard Schools or HMS-affiliated institutions must be budgeted within the award from the Dean’s Initiative. No additional funds to cover indirect costs will be provided.
  • Other personnel support: Salary and fringe benefits are allowed for other participatory personnel such as research fellows, research assistants, administrative staff, etc.
  • Non-personnel research expenses: All expenses must be directly related to the proposed research and part of the approved budget. Some examples of allowable expenses are supplies, equipment (justification must be included with the proposal), travel to research meetings, fees for use of research core facilities, study subject stipends, study subject transportation costs, and statistical and computational services including personnel and computer time.
  • Unallowable costs: membership dues and fees, and journal subscription costs.


VI. Intellectual Property

It is anticipated that intellectual property may be developed through work on projects funded by the Innovation Grant program.  Regardless of the location at which the work is performed (whether in facilities of Harvard or of an HMS-affiliated Institution):


If any co-PI or other employee of an HMS-affiliated institution creates intellectual property through work on a project funded by the Innovation Grant program, the employing institution will own his or her interest in that intellectual property; and


If any PI or other individual employed by or enrolled as a student at Harvard creates intellectual property through work on a project funded by the Innovation Grant program, Harvard will own his or her interest in that intellectual property.



VII. Full Application Submission Information

Applications will be submitted and tracked via the Harvard Catalyst Apply Hub system at Apply Hub requires login via Harvard Medical School eCommons username and password, or via Harvard Key (


If you have not used Apply Hub before, you will be asked to register on a “My Account” page with your name and your email address.


The online application itself is a two-part form. Please provide the following information.


Part 1 – The Full Application and Supporting Documentation

  • Full name of the submitter
  • Email address of the submitter
  • Lead Principal Investigator (PI) Information
    • Full name of PI (edit if not the same as submitter)
    • Email address of the PI (edit if not the same as submitter)
    • PI NIH eRA Commons username
    • Degree(s)
    • Faculty rank/position
    • Institution
    • Department
    • Optional administrative contact name, phone number, and email address


  • Collaborator information
    • At least one Co-Principal Investigator is encouraged but not required, and a maximum of 4 Co-PIs may be listed on an application.
      • Full name of Co-PI
      • Email address of Co-PI
      • Degree(s)
      • Faculty rank/position
      • Institution
      • Department
      • Phone number


  • Title of Proposal


  • Administrative Questions
    • Does your study require IRB approval? If yes, do you have it?
    • Does your study require IACUC approval? If yes, do you have it?
    • Have you ever applied for funding or published with any of your co-PIs? If yes, please describe briefly.


Supporting Documentation

a. Administrative Documents (to be uploaded as a PDF)

--For each institution that will receive funds, the following forms must be completed:

-PHS 398 Face Page: One Face Page per faculty member requesting funds. Please remember that each PI or Co-PI requesting funds will receive a separate award agreement to provide the funding; pass-through subawards are not allowed. Face pages from HMS Quad-based faculty require a Department authorized signature only. Face pages from Co-PIs from other Harvard Schools or from HMS-affiliated institutions require a signature from an institutional authorized official.

-PHS 398 Form Page 4: Detailed budget for two years. Refer to Section V for allowable costs.

-Narrative Budget Justification.

-Each PI and Co-PI is required to submit separate budget and budget justification information.

-HMS Quad-based faculty will submit one budget page detailing their proposed two-year budget.

-Co-PIs from other Harvard Schools or HMS-affiliate institutions will submit two budget pages: one detailing their two-year request from the Dean’s Initiative (up to $75,000 per year) and one detailing the budget for their corresponding matching funds; the budget justification information for both of these budget pages may be combined into one document.


--If IRB approval, IACUC approval, or both are required and have not been obtained, please indicate the status of, and the plans for obtaining, approval. Funds will not be released without documentation that the necessary approvals have been obtained.


--PHS 398 Biographical Sketches for the PI, Co-PIs and significant collaborators. An eRA Commons ID is requested for all Co-PIs.


--For applications with Co-PIs from affiliate institutions, a letter from the Co-PI’s department or institution verifying matching support.


b. Scientific Proposal (to be uploaded as a PDF) is limited to 4 pages not including references: Use Arial, black font color, and a font size of 11 point only. The full application (covering items 1-4 below) should be single-spaced, with 0.7 inch margins. All figures and tables must be included in the body of the application and count towards page limits.  References are limited to 1 additional page. Appendix material will not be accepted.

            1. Project Title and Specific Aims

                        -Briefly describe the context and impact of the proposed research.

                        -List the specific aims of the project and briefly describe each.

                        2. Background and Significance

                                    -Summarize why the project is innovative, why it will have a potentially major impact, the limitation of current knowledge, and how work will address this problem.

                        3. Experimental Approach

-Provide detailed information about the work to be carried out in each specific aim

-Explain the nature of the collaboration (if any proposed)

            4. Long-Range Objectives

                        -Describe how the proposed project will lead to follow-on projects that could be supported in the future via external funding opportunities


Part 2 – Confirmation

There will be a confirmation page displaying all information entered. You will then be able to submit the application. All application materials can be reopened and resubmitted before the deadline.


Paper copies of the application or any other accompanying documentation will not be accepted. All application materials must be submitted no later than 5:00 pm EDT on May 16, 2018.

Successful submissions will result in an automated email response sent to the submitter of the application. This email acknowledgement will contain an application ID number that should be used in all future correspondence regarding the application. It will also include a URL that allows you to access the application within Apply Hub. Review of the full applications will take place in late June 2018 and award announcements will be made soon afterward.


VIII. Review Process and Criteria

Completed proposals submitted by the specified deadline will be reviewed for scientific merit and technical feasibility.


Reviewers may consider questions such as the following:

  • Is the proposed research innovative and does it have the potential to make a major impact?
  • Would a successful outcome enable the applicants to apply for follow-on funding from other sources within 18-24 months?
  • Do the investigators have the requisite skills, experience, and resources to execute the project within the funding period?


IX. Contact Information

All inquiries related to the application process, eligibility, and/or scientific research areas should be directed to Anna Frye,  A copy of this RFA is available online at


PDF Version of the RFA