Research News

Limited Submission Opportunity: W.M. Keck Foundation Research Program–Concept Papers (Winter 2024)

Applications due Nov. 30

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 and Innovation is currently soliciting concept papers, which will be presented to the Keck Foundation for feedback in a concept counseling call in the winter of 2024. 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 to $1.3 million over three years. Indirect costs are not allowed. Abstracts from previously funded proposals can be found here.

Program priorities for funding

Projects must be consistent with the Keck Research Program’s funding priorities:

  • 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 challenge the prevailing paradigm
  • Have potential for transformative impact, such as the founding of a new field of research, enabling of new observations, or altering perception of a previously intractable problem
  • Fall outside the mission of public funding agencies
  • Demonstrate that W. M. Keck Foundation support is essential to the project’s success

The Keck Research Program does not fund medical devices, clinical or translational research, treatment trials or research for the sole purpose of drug development. See the Funding Guidelines for more information.

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
  • Must include a brief justification of the need for Keck support
    • Concept papers should provide evidence that the proposed research is a poor fit for federal funding, i.e. summary of 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 Nov. 30, 2023.

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