Charles E. Kaufman Foundation

New Initiative Research Guidelines Up to four awards at a maximum of $300,000 over two years ($150,000 per year)

NOTICE: Please read the guidelines carefully, as they have been modified for 2019 applicants.


The goal of the New Initiative Research Grants is to stimulate existing investigators with strong records of research accomplishments to establish collaborations that facilitate innovative interdisciplinary approaches towards a common research question and that require expertise beyond that of any single researcher.  Investigators may be at different institutions or in the same department and institution, provided that different approaches are combined to address a new research initiative. Proposals are required to address basic (fundamental, pure) questions addressing core principals in biology, physics and chemistry or at the disciplinary boundaries between these fields.  Applied or clinical studies will not be supported.  Competitive applications are expected to be rich in innovative ideas and approaches with the potential for generating transformative intellectual advances.

See Previous Award Winners


  • There must be at least two investigators both with primary appointments at a Pennsylvania Institution of higher education, who are either United States citizens or lawful permanent residents by the LOI deadline. One faculty member must be identified at the Principal Investigator, and his or her institution as the Lead Institution. Other investigators should be identified as co-investigators. All principal and co-investigators must hold appointments within Pennsylvania-based colleges and universities.
  • Investigators must have a full-time tenured or tenure-track appointment.
  • The investigators should reflect expertise in distinct disciplines or subdisciplines in biology, chemistry or physics. While these disciplines and subdisciplines can be broadly defined, it should be clear that different approaches are represented at addressing a specific research question.
  • The proposed research must be a new initiative and not currently funded from other sources.
  • Only one application from each team of investigators is permitted. An eligible institution may submit multiple LOIs from different researchers and distinct projects. A faculty member may not be a Principal Investigator on more than one proposal, but s/he may be included as a Co-investigator on more than one proposal.


The research must be basic and curiosity-driven, addressing fundamental processes but in the context of their potential application for the betterment of humankind. They should be focused broadly within the disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics. The LOI should contain a brief cover letter on university letterhead stating the intended program and confirming all applicants’ eligibility (page 1) and a one-page description of the proposed research with project title (page 2). Page 1 should include bullet points addressing and confirming each of the eligibility criteria noted above. A brief (not more than 1 page) budget proposal must be included (page 3). Budget items not supported are tuition or student fees, construction or renovation costs, consultants, or salary for the Principal or Co-Investigators. References may be included on additional pages. Formatting must be single-spaced with 1” margins in all directions and no less than 11 point Times New Roman font.  

The Letter of Intent submission period is closed. Please check back later this year for 2020 guidelines.

For questions, contact or call 412-394-2617.


The Scientific Advisory Board and Kaufman Foundation staff will review letters of intent, and the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation will notify applicants whether they have been selected to submit a full application following review of the letters of intent. Only applicants who have submitted an LOI and have been invited to apply will be considered for funding.


The 2019 full application submission period is closed.  You must first submit a Letter of Intent (see instructions above). Please check back later this year for 2020 guidelines.


If invited to apply, the applicant will receive detailed instructions on how to submit this application.

  • A cover letter stating the intended program and confirming each item of eligibility of the proposal, as stated in the guidelines.
  • A short summary with a research project title, about a paragraph in length, explaining your intended research and potential to a lay audience. This should be included on page 2 of your packet, and should not be included within the 5-page limit of the research proposal. This should be written for educated, nonscientific lay readers, such as members of The Kaufman Foundation Board and media.
  • A research proposal no more than five pages long (paginated, single-spaced with 1” margins in all directions and no less than 11 point Times New Roman font) describing an innovative project in the general areas of biology, physics, and chemistry that is curiosity driven rather than application based, and integrates multiple approaches. The need for an interactive, interdisciplinary program involving several investigators, and the means of achieving this, should be clearly articulated. The role and intellectual contribution of each investigator should be explained. Preference will be given to proposals with the potential to be transformative, and which effectively involve interdisciplinary approaches which are applied to a common question, involve the training of graduate and undergraduate students, and will provide the basis for extended in-depth studies beyond the expiration of the award. Proposals should contain Specific Aims, Background and Significance, and Experimental Design.
  • References related to the 5-page research proposal (Not included within the 5-page limit.)
  • A detailed budget proposal including justification. Budget components can include – but are not limited to – salaries of postdoctoral researchers and other research staff, stipends for graduate and undergraduate researchers, equipment, supplies, publication costs, and travel to scientific meetings. Indirect costs not to exceed 10% of the budget can be included, but not such as to increase the total size of the award; applicants should discuss this with their Institution. Budget items not supported are tuition or student fees, construction or renovation costs, consultants, or salary for the Principal or Co-Investigators. If more than one institution is involved, then the budget for the secondary institution(s) should be planned as a subcontract from the Lead Institution.
  • A description of other research support for all investigators, including both pending applications and any institutional support. With this list, please include a paragraph of explanation describing how the proposal submitted to the Kaufman Foundation is differentiated from current funding. Any pending support in which a decision becomes available after the submission of a full proposal should be immediately sent to A curriculum vitae for each investigator that includes a full list of publications.
  • A curriculum vitae for each investigator that includes a full list of publications.
  • A letter from an Institutional representative confirming the exempt status of the institution from federal government and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania taxes.
  • Two letters of support from colleagues familiar with the investigators and the proposed work. Letters should be sent by email directly to with the name of the applicant in the subject line. No more than one letter may be received from a prior mentor, and no more than one letter may be received from the primary investigator’s institution.

Successful applicants will be notified by the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation by Aug. 2019. Awards will be sent to the grantee institution upon notification of acceptance of the terms and conditions for Foundation’s award letter, for funding to begin by Sept. 2019. The host institution holds responsibility for research conduct, research integrity, general laboratory safety, biosafety, radiation safety, and for the safe disposal of hazardous waste materials.

NOTE: If funded, investigators are strongly encouraged to attend programs and events sponsored by the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation.