Research News

Limited Submission Opportunity: W.M. Keck Foundation Research Program Concept Papers (Winter 2022)

Applications due Dec. 1

These instructions are for VU investigators. VUMC investigators should visit the OOR funding opportunity site.

Vanderbilt University may submit up to two proposals, one in medical research and one in science and engineering, for the W.M. Keck Foundation Research Program. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research is currently soliciting concept papers, which will be presented to the Keck Foundation for feedback in a consultation phone call during winter 2022. The goal of the program is to benefit humanity by supporting work that has a distinctive and novel approach, questions a prevailing paradigm, or has the potential to break open new territory in a field. Grants are typically awarded for roughly $1 million, and abstracts from previously funded proposals can be found here. Indirect costs are not allowed.

Program priorities for funding

  • Focus on important and emerging areas of research
  • Have the potential to develop breakthrough technologies, instrumentation or methodologies
  • Are innovative, distinctive and interdisciplinary
  • Demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm
  • Have the potential for transformative impact, such as the founding of a new field of research, the enabling of observations not previously possible, or the altered perception of a previously intractable problem
  • Does not focus on clinical or translational research, treatment trials or research for the sole purpose of drug development
  • Fall outside the mission of public funding agencies
  • Demonstrate that private philanthropy generally, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in particular, is essential to the project’s success

Concept paper requirements

  • Must be a single page with 12-point font and 1-inch margins
  • Please indicate the area of emphasis for the project: Medical Research or Science and Engineering Research
  • Include an overview of the proposed project emphasizing any unique aspects and pilot studies
    • Emphasize attributes that address program priorities, e.g. high level of risk, transformative impact.
  • Include a description of the methodologies and key personnel
  • Include a brief justification of the need for Keck support
    • Competitive proposals will provide evidence that the proposed research is a poor fit for federal funding opportunities, i.e. reviewer comments or program officer discussion
  • Include an estimated budget broken down, if possible, by major areas, e.g., personnel, equipment, consumable supplies, etc. (budgets can be rough approximations at this stage)

Internal application instructions

Interested faculty should visit to submit an application for the internal LSO competition and to find additional information about the opportunity. The deadline for the internal competition is Dec. 1, 2021.

Any questions about this opportunity or the LSO process may be directed to