CALL FOR PROPOSALS: W.M. Keck Foundation Research Program

The W. M. Keck Foundation supports groundbreaking fundamental research in the areas of biological and physical sciences.  Basic research that seeks to establish new paradigms, develop innovative new technology and/or methodology, remove roadblocks that restrict progress in a field, or answer intractable problems, is given priority.  UCI has had remarkable success with this Foundation in the past 10 years.  Grantees include Derek Dunn-Rankin, John Hemminger, Filippo Capolino and Eric Potma, Tony James, Enrico Gratton and Michelle Digman, and Kumar Wickramasinghe.   A summary with additional information about applying to the Keck Foundation is attached.

Research Teams:  As big questions seldom fit into traditional silos, Keck encourages but does not require interdisciplinary research, such as an engineering-based approach to a biological question.  Where interdisciplinary teams are involved, the Foundation will examine carefully whether the appropriate expertise is included.  For example, biological research should include biologists to ensure the approach is biologically appropriate.  Where data analysis is an integral component of the project, a computer scientist as a research partner is important.  Young investigators are encouraged to apply or to be included in interdisciplinary research teams when their expertise is appropriate.

Research not funded:  Research that is the next logical step for an investigator’s program, or that would be considered incremental, will not be successful.  Translational or clinical research, vector and drug development, alternative energy and biodiversity studies, and miniaturization of existing technologies are not considered.  Research that could be funded by the federal agencies (NIH, NSF, DoD) will not be competitive.

Budget:  Budget requests may be for up to $1 million and may be expended over 3-4 years.  The Foundation has relatively few grant dollars compared to the federal agencies, hence proposed research should not be fundable by federal or state agencies.  The Keck Foundation does not pay indirect costs, nor does it allow for tuition and fees for graduate students.

Deadline:  UCI may submit one Phase I proposal for each of the Medical and Science & Engineering tracks by the November 1st deadline. UCI has been encouraged to discuss preliminary concept papers with Keck Program Staff, facilitated through UCI’s Keck liaison: Executive Director of Foundation Relations, Roxanne Ford.

Interested applicants are asked to submit a preliminary concept paper to the VCR’s office by Friday, July 1, 2016, via the UCI Review competition management system: with the following information:

  1. One-page project summary (consistent with Keck’s requirements for a Phase I app.) containing:
  • Abstract:  Provide an executive summary of this project, including overall goal, methodology and significance, for a well-educated lay audience.
  • Unique Aspects:  Describe unique or distinctive aspects of this project.
  • Key Personnel:  Name the key personnel and describe their expertise, role in this project, and any collaborations/partnerships.
  • Budget:  State total cost of this project, amount requested from the Keck Foundation, and the amount of institutional support. Describe how funds requested from Keck will be allocated among capital, personnel and equipment. .
  • Justification for WMKF support:  Explain why support from the Keck Foundation is essential for this project (i.e. this project cannot be, or is not likely to be supported by NIH, NSF or other typical funding agencies). Evidence that the research project is beyond the scope of governmental funding agencies is helpful (a conversation with a program officer, a declined proposal, lack of appropriate RFPs etc.) and should be referenced.
  1. Brief Biosketch or CV (no more than 2-pages) of the PI

After the internal deadline, if necessary, an ad hoc committee will convene to review the preliminary proposals.   After consultation with Keck, the selected PI(s) will be notified in time to meet the W.M. Keck deadline of November 1, 2016 for the Phase I application.

For the complete W.M. Keck criteria for these awards, please refer to  Questions about the Keck Research Program may be directed to Executive Director of Foundation Relations, Roxanne Ford, or Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives, Jacob Levin.  Questions regarding our internal campus review procedure should be forwarded to Greg Ruth at or x4-0372.
James W. Hicks
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research
Professor of Biology

Scroll to Top