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W.M. Keck Foundation - Fall Cycle

Internal Due Date: Past Due - Contact Lucy Grantham for details

Foundation Due Date: 11-01-2015

Number of Applications: 4


What Keck Wants:

The Keck Foundation welcomes projects in all fields of basic science and basic medical research, but it is important to emphasize Keck is most interested in projects that will be transformative across multiple fields.  Of special interest are “great leap” projects whose breakthrough discoveries will substantially change fields or establish and define entirely new fields.  The Foundation is often interested in projects that create new technology, instrumentation, and/or methodology.

The Foundation appreciates comprehensive but succinct descriptions of what the research team members will do and exactly how they will do it methodologically.  The text should be written for a highly trained audience familiar with reading scientific proposals, but whose members are not necessarily trained in the same field as the applicant.  The potential transformative impact of the project should be clear to all readers.

Keck likes to see proposals that explain how the team and its approach will be distinct from – and will add improvements to – others in the field.  Demonstrating strong awareness of competing and similar research teams nationally and internationally is important. 

Given the often high-risk nature of transformative rather than incremental projects, it is important to describe the collateral benefits that will be produced by the project, across multiple fields, even if the focused, principle aim of the project is not achieved during the grant period. 

Keck is a private funder with limited resources, and therefore expects proposals that will convincingly describe why Keck funding is essential, compared to other private funders.  Projects that are eligible for any federal funding are by definition not fundable by Keck.  Federal agency rejection letters are often helpful to include in applications to Keck.

Keck is not interested in clinical or translational research. Bricks and mortar projects and establishment of core facilities are not eligible for Keck funding.  For other limitations and additional information, go to:

Grant Programs

The W. M. Keck Foundation was founded with the goal of generating far-reaching benefits for humanity. Following the ideals of our founder, the Foundation supports outstanding science, engineering and medical research, undergraduate education; and, in Southern California, arts and culture, education, health and community service projects that will have a significant impact in addressing complex issues and problems.

The Foundation strives to fund endeavors that are distinctive and novel in their approach. It encourages projects that are high-risk with the potential for transformative impact. "High-risk" comprises a number of factors, including questions that push the edge of the field, present unconventional approaches to intractable problems, or challenge the prevailing paradigm.

To make grant determinations, the Foundation relies upon a wide range of input, including assessments by its professional staff, site visits (where appropriate), peer reviews, the latest available scientific information, and presentations by experts in scientific, medical and health and human service fields.

Research Program

Supporting pioneering discoveries in science, engineering and medical research has been our mandate from the beginning. By funding the high-risk/high-impact work of leading researchers, we are laying the groundwork for new paradigms, technologies and discoveries that will save lives, provide innovative solutions, and add to our understanding of the world. Both Senior and Early Career investigators are encouraged to apply.

The Research Program seeks to benefit humanity by supporting projects in two specific areas: 1) medical research and 2) science and engineering, that are distinctive and novel in their approach, question the prevailing paradigm, or have the potential to break open new territory in their field.  Past grants have been awarded to major universities, independent research institutions, and medical schools to support pioneering biological and physical science research and engineering, including the development of promising new technologies, instrumentation or methodologies.  Historically, grants range from, $500,000 to $5 million and are typically $2 million or less. 

The W. M. Keck Foundation employs a two-phase application process. Applicants are urged to follow the process carefully to avoid disqualification. Grants are awarded twice annually, in June and December. Only applications that reflect institutional priorities as certified by the applicant's President/Chief Executive Officer will be considered.


ONE-PAGE Abstract Requirements:

In one page only, with a highly trained but lay audience in mind, include the following:

(1) abstract/overview of the research proposed emphasizing any unique aspects;

(2) mention of pilot studies or data, if any – including unpublished findings – that support the idea;

(3) brief description of the key personnel and methodologies;

(4) brief justification of the particular need for Keck’s support; and

(5) estimated budget broken down, if possible, by major areas, e.g., personnel, equipment, consumable supplies, etc. (Budgets can be rough approximations at this stage.)

Researchers are free to add other details (e.g., background to put the research into perspective, description of the institution’s prominence in the field, etc.) if there is room.

Researchers should avoid illustrations in these single-pagers; they will need all the room for text. If a reference is absolutely necessary, abbreviate it as (Science, 323, 45, ’11).

Lucy Grantham, Director of Development II
Emory University, Development and Alumni Relations
Office of Foundation and Corporate Relations
1762 Clifton Road, Suite 1150, Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Office: 404.727.4096, Cell: 202-413-1793, Fax: 404.727.4492