UCLA DGSOM W. M. Keck Foundation Junior Faculty Awards

The W. M. Keck Foundation was founded with the goal of generating far-reaching benefits for humanity. Following the ideals of its founder, the Foundation supports outstanding science, engineering, and medical research, and, in Southern California, arts and culture, education, health, and community services 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 and have 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 develop a novel strategy for promoting and supporting high-impact biomedical research, the W. M. Keck Foundation made a gift to the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) aimed at supporting junior faculty in the DGSOM and in other schools engaged in biomedical research at UCLA. It is an honor for UCLA to be selected for this gift and represents a strong commitment from the W.M Keck Foundation for research at UCLA.

Strategic Vision

The goal of the W. M. Keck Foundation Junior Faculty Awards is to support outstanding early-career scientists who are 4-6 years into their first assistant professor position with a $500,000 grant ($250,000 per year for two years). Assistant professors report that they often hit a road block in resources for their research program 4-6 years after starting their professorship when their start-up funds have been spent down and their first NIH grant is up for renewal. There are very few funding opportunities outside of renewing their NIH grants or securing additional NIH funding. This limits the ability of these young faculty to pursue their most creative, bold, and potentially impactful ideas.

2023 UCLA DGSOM W.M. Keck Foundation Junior Faculty Awards Program

In recognition of the strategic vision described above, up to two W. M. Keck Foundation Junior Faculty Awards are being made to UCLA each year. In Phase I, eligible faculty from throughout the UCLA campus are invited to submit a 1-page Letter of Intent (LOI) by September 8 that outlines the proposed project, along with a biosketch in NIH format. Eligible faculty are those in the Regular Series or In-Residence series who were first appointed as an Assistant Professor at any institution in any series between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2019. These narrow criteria were selected to fulfill the strategic vision described above and because of the highly competitive nature of this funding opportunity, with only 2 awards available each year. Proposals are to focus on biomedical research and will be evaluated according to the following priorities of the W. M. Keck Foundation (see Evaluation Criteria below).

Important Dates

  • September 8, 2023:
    Letters of Intent (LOIs) due
  • September 29, 2023:
    LOI decisions released
  • October 23, 2023:
    Full proposals due at UCLA
  • November 10, 2023:
    Full proposal decisions released by UCLA committee
  • November 17, 2023:
    Full proposals due at W.M. Keck Foundation
  • January 3, 2024:
    Earliest funding date

The Review Committee will select between 6 and 10 applicants to proceed to Phase II. Candidates will be notified of the invitation to submit a full proposal by September 29, 2023. Full proposals will consist of a lay summary, a description of the transformative nature of the proposed research, a 5-page research proposal describing the specific aims, significance, background, preliminary data, and experimental approach, followed by cited literature, budget, budget justification, and NIH biosketch. The deadline for full proposals to be submitted to the UCLA Review Committee is October 23, 2023.

The internal review committee will evaluate the full proposals and select up to 4 that they believe meet the high expectations of the W. M. Keck Foundation. Selected proposals will be submitted to W. M. Keck Foundation by November 17, 2023. Up to 2 grants will be awarded each year, with funding available on January 3, 2024 or later.

Application Instructions and Other Information

LOI and full application reviews will not be provided to applicants.

Awardees must submit a report describing accomplishments at the end of the 2-year funding period.

Funds can be carried forward for a third year, but funds not used by the end of the 3rd year will be returned to the Foundation.

Contact Information

Please direct questions to Dion Baybridge at DBaybridge@mednet.ucla.edu

General Eligibility

  • The applicant must be a Regular Series or In-Residence Series UCLA faculty member on the Westwood campus at the time of submission.
  • The applicant’s appointment can be in any UCLA School or Department.
  • Applicants must be in the Regular Series or In-Residence series, with their first appointment as an Assistant Professor at any university in any series between July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019.

General Evaluation Criteria

  • Strength and future promise of the applicant, based on research accomplishments to date as a trainee and independent investigator, and established success securing extramural funding.
  • Extent to which the proposal and the applicant’s research in general focuses on important and emerging areas of biomedical research.
  • Demonstration that private philanthropy generally, and the W.M. Keck Foundation in particular, is essential for the project’s success.
  • Potential of the project to develop breakthrough conceptual insights, technologies, instrumentation, or methodologies.
  • High level of risk due to the use of unconventional approaches or by challenging prevailing paradigms.
  • Potential for transformative impact, such as the founding of a new field of research, the enabling of observations not previously possible, or the altered perception of a previously intractable problem.
  • The proposal cannot focus on clinical or translational research, treatment trials, or research for the sole purpose of drug development.
  • Evidence of innovation and use of interdisciplinary approaches.
  • Evidence of deep engagement in UCLA’s research enterprise and positive interactions with the research community.

The Letter of Intent should include the following 2 items assembled into a single PDF (please use Ariel 11 font for the LOI text with 0.5-inch margins):

  • A one-page document consisting of:
    • Project title.
    • Applicant name and UCLA department.
    • A brief summary of the applicant’s accomplishments as an independent investigator.
    • A brief summary of the scientific problem and the general, anticipated approach.
    • A brief description of why the proposed research should be considered to be transformative and suitable for funding from the W. M. Keck Foundation.
  • An NIH-style biosketch including current and past research support.

The PDF containing these 2 items can be uploaded here by September 8, 2023.

Submit now

Application Instructions

Full applications can be submitted only by applicants invited by the LOI review committee to submit a full application.

Full applications should include the following 6 items assembled into a single PDF (please use Ariel 11 font for application text with 0.5-inch page margins):

  • A cover page (1 page limit) containing:
    • Project title.
    • Applicant name and department.
    • 1-paragraph lay summary of the proposed research.
    • 1-paragraph description of the transformative nature of the proposed research.
  • A 5-page research proposal consisting of:
    • Specific aims.
    • Significance.
    • Background.
    • Preliminary data (with embedded figures, if appropriate).
    • Experimental approach.
  • A 1-page list of cited literature.
  • An NIH-style budget page covering the entire 2-yr funding period ($500,000 maximum).
  • A brief budget justification (1 page maximum).
  • An NIH-style biosketch including current and past research support.
  • ARC and IRB approvals do not need to be included with the application, but must be provided prior to funding; failure to provide approvals soon after grants are approved may jeopardize funding.

The PDF containing these 6 items can be uploaded here by October 23, 2023.

Submit now