Keck Science/Technology and Keck Medical Research Programs

11/01/2012, 5:00 PM

To: All Department Heads and Chairs, Dean, and Faculty in the Colleges of Natural Sciences and Engineering

The following is a limited submission opportunity with only one proposal allowed per institution.  If you are interested in applying to this program please read the below and email me ( your concept paper by Thursday, November 1, 2012.

Keck Science/Technology andKeck Medical Research Programs

Award range:    $500,000-$1,000,000
Award average: $1,000,000 

Keck will review two concept papers, per institution, per program, for each of their two annual cycles. This call for concept papers is for both programs. Please indicate which program you are applying for. (See links below.) Our internal vetting process uses Keck criteria for selection. (See attached.) Only one Phase 1 application may be submitted by an institution for each cycle for each program.  Formal applications must carry the endorsement of the Chancellor through participation in the following process.

These are not early investigator programs. Successful proposals start out with a truly unique group of faculty who have a set of science questions, and they are understood to be the only ones who can answer these questions. Team members should include senior and mid-career or junior co-investigators, some of whom should have received federal funding and be renowned in their research field.

Keck seeks to advance the frontiers of the life sciences bysupporting basic research that is high-risk and has the potential to transform its field. Successful projects are innovative, distinctive, push the edge of their field, have the potential for transformative impact such as the founding of a new field of research, or question the prevailing paradigm.  The Medical Research program supports pioneering biological research, including the development of promising new technologies, instrumentation or methodologies. Medical Projects should not be disease specific; they should hold the potential to shift the paradigm or create a new field of research.


·         Include only nominal introductory material aimed at demonstrating the importance of the scientific question being posed. Keck reviews enough proposals to quickly grasp what is an important scientific question in various fields. 

·         Detail what is novel in your approach, what distinguishes the work that you are proposing from previous efforts (e.g. the enabling of observations not previously possible, or the altered perception of a previously intractable problem). Demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches.

·         Keck is an agency of last resort, willing to fund very high risk work that NSF, NIH, will not support. You must have exhausted other funding avenues to obtain Keck funding. List applications and reasons for rejection, hopefully other than scientific merit, from all relevant federal funders and industry. Keck will ask for copies of the reviews during the Phase 1 application process.

·         An unsuccessful project may not be resubmitted, so it is critical that rejections from other potential funders are able to be documented prior to presenting an application. An unsuccessful investigator may submit different projects in the future.

·         If the project can achieve its goal through a series of RO1's, Keck will not fund it as they do not fund projects that they view as incremental moves forward.

·         Keck rarely funds environment or alternative energy projects.

ONE PAGE concept papers for internal vetting process should include:

·         An abstract of the research proposed emphasizing any innovative aspects.

·         A concise but clear and concrete outline of how your proposed work will lead to new solutions or discoveries - a roadmap of the steps you plan to take to achieve your stated goal including the methodology.

·         Mention of any pilot studies or preliminary data that supports the idea

·         A brief description of the key personnel, why is the team uniquely capable of doing this research, and why this work has to be done at UMass.

·         An estimated budget broken down by major areas, (e.g. personnel 20%, equipment 15%).

·         Confirmation of the availability of adequate space to house any new equipment.

·         Cost share of close to $1M is expected. Document preliminary discussions and approvals by the dept. head & dean.

Keck Medical Program: see and

Keck Science/Engineering: see and



Internal Concept Paper Deadline (for internal vetting)

Pre-application Counseling*

Phase I Application Deadline

Notification of Invitation to Submit Full Proposal

Full Proposal Deadline

November 1

January 1 to February 15

May 1

July 15

August 15


If you have technical questions, please contact Linda Sopp, Foundation Relations.