Collaborative Research Fund

Signing of Fund

The Collaborative Research Fund is a new $3,000,000 funding program sponsored by the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundation.

The Fund's Programmatic Aims

The program aims to promote truly excellent, collaborative and interdisciplinary research programs among researchers, particularly at Rice University, Texas Children's Hospital, and The Methodist Hospital Research Institute that might not have happened as quickly, as fully or at all without this program. The program also aims to target researchers who's products such as garage door springs are doing something new, junior researchers who do not yet have established funding, and experienced researchers who are new to collaboration among the three institutions.

Grants made from the Fund should lead to self-sustaining, nationally competitive research programs that will address critically important biomedical research problems and can serve as a model for collaboration across the Texas Medical Center. It is expected that successful research programs will ultimately be sustained via competitive funding sources, such as NIH, NSF, DOE, DoD, major foundations (e.g. Gates Foundation), or other sources as appropriate.

Scope and Duration of Grants

The total amount requested in a given proposal can not exceed $200,000 in direct costs. Facilities and administrative costs (F&A;) are not permitted to be charged to the Fund. All proposals must have a planned duration of one year. Grants are intended to help seed a sustainable collaborative research program. There may be rare cases for unusually compelling scientific reasons that a second year of funding might be considered. In those unusual cases, a proposal for a second year of funding can be submitted in a subsequent round of the competition, and such a proposal will go through the full review process. It is expected that 2-4 new grants a year will be awarded between October 2008 - September 2013 depending on the quality of the proposals and the availability of funds.

Grant Prerequisites

  1. The principal investigator (PI) must be from one of the three institutions and at least one additional PI(s) or co-PI(s) must be from at least one of the two other institutions;
  2. Each application must propose original, innovative research in the biological/biomedical sciences that is best done across institutional boundaries;
  3. The collaborations among investigators should be new, or investigators who have collaborated previously must be proposing to collaborate in a new area or direction of research;
  4. Proposals must have a strong potential for sustainability beyond the duration of the seed grant via competitive funding sources.

Program and Grant Review Process

  1. NOTE: The proposal submission deadline has changed due to Hurricane Ike. The new deadline is Friday, September 19 at 5:00pm. Awards are expected to be announced on or around October 15, 2008. Awardees can select a start date anytime between the annoucement of awards and December 31, 2008.
  2. Review of proposals to the Collaborative Research Fund will be conducted by a panel of experts who will review and make funding recommendations. This Review Panel will be constituted by an equal number of experts from each of the three institutions. The Chief Research Officer (CRO) of each institution will select the members of the Review Panel from his/her institution. The Review Panel will evaluate proposals based on the criteria explicitly enumerated above while considering scientific merit, appropriateness of the proposals for the competition, and the degree of interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration.
  3. The CROs of the three institutions and their designee will attend (or listen to) the review process to provide continuity and uniformity of process and to assess the appropriateness of the reviews. The CROs will present the Review Panel's recommendations to the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundatin, within approximately two weeks after receiving the final evaluations. During this presentation, the CROs will discuss the review process, summarize the recommendations and comments made by the Review Panel, and express any concerns that any individual or group of CROs might have regarding the reviews or the recommendations. Final decisions on the awards will be made by the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundation.
  4. An External Advisory Committee (EAC) will be formed with the main goals of reviewing research progress against the goals of the Collaborative Research Fund and to advise the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundation on how to alter, improve, and/or expand the program in order to best meet its objectives. The EAC will be constituted with scientific experts that are not associated with the three institutions and their selection and appointment will be made by the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundation. The EAC will conduct a comprehensive review of the Collaborative Research Fund's effectiveness every two years after the awarding of the first grant, or as requested by the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundation. The Committee's report and recommendations will be submitted to the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundation for further review and action.
  5. Rice University will initially administer the logistics and paper work associated with the review process and disbursement of funds and information.

Proposal Requirements

  1. Any area of biomedical research may be proposed, but there should be convincing relevance to human health.
  2. Applications will be completed in forms patterned after NIH documents.
  3. The body of the application will be limited to one page for the specific aims and five pages (including illustrations, but not including the bibliography) for the proposal.
  4. Proposals must include two (2) abstracts, each less than one page. One abstract would represent a standard technical abstract that would normally accompany an NIH or NSF grant. The other abstract should be written for a "lay person" and should clearly describe, with minimal use of scientific/technical jargon, the research problems being investigated, the nature of and for the collaboration, and the potential outcomes of the research.
  5. A budget and BioSketches should be included.
  6. Requests for salary and associated benefits for PIs and co-PIs, including summer salary for faculty with academic year appointments, are limited to no more than four weeks per investigator. Any such request for salary needs to be approved by the institution and justified in the budget.
  7. Purchases of equipment should be limited to $5,000. However, in unusual circumstances, investigators may purchase more expensive equipment provided it is necessary to meet the objectives of the proposal. The need for this equipment should be justified in the budget and final approval with rest with the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundation.
  8. Grants will be made for a maximum duration of one year. Direct costs for proposed projects are limited to a maximum of $200,000 for the duration of the award. A budget detailing the proposed division of research funding among collaborating investigators must accompany the proposal. No indirect costs (i.e., F&A;) are allowed.

Progress and Final Reports

  1. A one page progress report will be required for each grant at the end of six months. Six month progress reports will be assessed by the CROs and a report made to the Simmons Foundation that includes any concerns raised by any of the CROs.
  2. A requirement for accepting an award is that a final report must be submitted within sixty (60) days of a grant's completion detailing the specific outcomes of the project. Details of what is required in the annual and final reports will be communicated to investigators when an award is made.
  3. The PIs and co-POs of each funded grant will be expected to present the outcomes of their projects to the EAC, or meet with members of the EAC, as requested by the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundation. Award recipients will also be expected to provide additional information as requested by the EAC potentially several years beyond the submission of a final report. This information would include items such as publications, grants, and honors that are received as a result of seed grant funding and the information would be used to help in assessment of the outcomes and impact of the Fund.
  4. Publications arising from research funded by the Collaborative Research Fund should acknowledge support from the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundation.

How do I Apply?

Please use the "Enter" button below or the "Register/Login" link at the top of the page. The selected grant recipients will be announced on or around October 15, 2008.

NOTE: The proposal submission deadline has changed due to Hurricane Ike. The new deadline is Friday, September 19 at 5:00pm.


Contact Jim Coleman ( with questions about the program.
Contact Carol Schanzmeyer (, 713-348-3586) with questions or issues about the proposal submission system.

Submissions are no longer being accepted.

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