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.  Proposals should answer the question, “What is the new science this project enables?”  UCI has had remarkable success with this Foundation in the past 10 years.  Grantees include Rob Spitale and John Chaput, Filippo Capolino and Eric Potma, Derek Dunn-Rankin, John Hemminger, Tony James, Enrico Gratton and Michelle Digman, and Kumar Wickramasinghe.   A summary document with additional information about applying to the Keck Foundation may be found here.


Budget requests may be for up to $1 million and may be expended over 3 years.  The Keck Foundation does not pay indirect costs, nor does it allow for tuition and fees for graduate students.

Projects 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.  If Keck funded it recently, it is likely they will not fund a related project again.  Abstracts for funded projects are found on their website (  Research that could be funded by the federal agencies (NIH, NSF, DoD) will not be competitive.

Internal Application Process

Interested applicants are asked to submit a preliminary concept paper to the VCR’s office by May 28, 2018, via UCI Review, with the following information:

  1. One-page project summary (consistent with Keck’s requirements for a Phase I app.) containing:
    • Abstract:  Provides an executive summary of this project.  Must include overall goal (what will you do?), methodology (how will you do it?) and significance (why does this matter?) written for a well-educated lay audience.  Clarify what your new science is, and if you are developing new technology, what questions this technology will help answer (and who is interested in using it besides your lab.)
    • Unique Aspects:  Describe unique or distinctive aspects of this project. (Why here?  Why now?  Why your lab?)
    • 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. The amount that would be indirect funds if this were a government grant count as institutional support. Briefly 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 important (a conversation with a program officer, a declined proposal, lack of appropriate RFPs etc.) and should be referenced.
  2. Brief Biosketch or CV (no more than 2 pages)

After the internal deadline, if necessary, an ad hoc committee will convene to review the preliminary proposals.   After the Office of Research consults with Keck in July-August 2018, the selected PI(s) will be notified in time to meet the W.M. Keck deadline of November 1, 2018.

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 at  Questions regarding our internal campus review procedure should be forwarded to Greg Ruth at or x4-0372.

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