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 updated for 2024 applicants. 


The goal of the New Initiative Research Grants program 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 in Pennsylvania or at the same institution in Pennsylvania, provided that different approaches are combined to address a new research initiative.  Proposals are required to address basic (fundamental, pure) questions addressing core principles in biology, physics and chemistry or at the disciplinary boundaries between these fields. Competitive submissions 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 identified on the research project.  All principal and co-investigators must hold primary appointments within a Pennsylvania institution of higher education. One faculty member must be identified at the Principal Investigator, and the PI’s institution as the lead institution. Other investigators should be identified as co-investigators. 
  • All principal and co-investigators must be either United States citizens or lawful permanent residents by the LOI deadline.    
  • NEW FOR 2024 - Investigators must have one of the following: 
    • Full-time tenure. 
    • Tenure-track appointment.
    • Independent research faculty appointment (with evidence of an independent research program).
  • 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. Please indicate the discipline(s) in which the research is grounded.
  • The proposed research must be a new initiative and not currently funded from other sources.


  • Only one Letter of Intent 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 the investigator may be included as a co-investigator on more than one proposal.
  • Principal Investigators on grants previously funded in the New Initiative category from the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation are eligible to apply as a Principal Investigator in the New Initiative grant category after a final report has been received.
  • The research must be curiosity-driven, addressing fundamental processes but in the context of their potential application for the betterment of humankind.  The research must be focused within the disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics or at the boundaries between these disciplines.


The 2024 Letter of Intent submission deadline has passed. For questions, please call 412-394-2603 or email

The LOI should contain the following in a single PDF document:

Page 1:  A brief cover letter on institutional letterhead with bullet points confirming applicant eligibility for the proposal as noted above. Please address the Letter of Intent to the Scientific Advisory Board of the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation. The cover letter may be signed by the PI.

Page 2:  A one-page description of the proposed research with project title.  Competitive LOIs:

  1. Are written for an educated, scientific generalist with a broad range of expertise.
  2. Focus on the fundamental aspects of the research.
  3. Present a clear experimental design.
  4. Convince the Scientific Advisory Board that the researchers are well positioned to successfully complete the proposed research.

Page 3:  A one-page (or less) budget proposal must be included. Budget items not supported are tuition or student fees, construction or renovation costs, consultants or salary for the Principal Investigator or co-investigators.

Page 4:  Literature cited.

Page 5: Please include a list of the lead investigator and each co-investigator’s last three relevant publications. 

Formatting must be single-spaced with one-inch margins in all directions and no less than 11-point Times New Roman font.


For questions, contact or call 412-394-2603.

The Scientific Advisory Board and Kaufman Foundation staff will review letters of intent, and the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation will notify applicants by May 20, 2024, whether they have been selected to submit a full proposal 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.


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

Full proposals must be received by July 26, 2024, at 5 p.m. and will include the following components in this order:

Page 1:  A cover letter confirming each item of eligibility, as stated in the guidelines.

Page 2:  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 written for educated, nonscientific lay readers, such as members of The Charles E. Kaufman Foundation Board of Directors and media.

Pages 3-7:  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 proposal 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. Projects that are high risk but with a high potential return are encouraged. Proposals should contain Specific Aims, Background, Significance and Experimental Design.

Pages 8+: The following pages should also be included:

  • References:  Any references related to the 5-page research proposal can be included here.
  • Budget: 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 (i.e.: total costs, including indirect costs, may not exceed the total award amount of $300,000). 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. 
  • Other Research Support: A description of other research support for all investigators, including both pending proposals 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  
  • CV/Biosketch: An NIH-formatted biosketch or a CV (5-page maximum per investigator), for all investigators.
  • If awarded, all Charles E. Kaufman recipients must submit official IRB and/or IACUC approval or formal exemption. The Foundation requires this documentation for all medical research and research awards. 

Letters of Support

Two letters of support from colleagues familiar with the investigator(s) and the proposed work must be uploaded by the colleagues submitting letters of support no later than the application deadline of July 26, 2024, at 5 p.m. EST. Both letters must be from sources external to the primary investigator's institution and no more than one letter may be received from a prior mentor. If invited to submit a full proposal, the applicant will receive detailed instructions on this process.


Successful applicants will be notified by the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation by Nov. 1. Payment for year one of the grant will be sent to the grantee institution upon notification of acceptance of the terms and conditions of the Foundation’s grant agreement, for funding to begin in December. 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.


Submissions are reviewed through the following process:  

LOI: Staff of the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation will screen LOIs for eligibility, and all eligible requests will be reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Board. The Scientific Advisory Board will meet to deliberate on the merits of each request and will recommend a group of applicants to advance to the full proposal stage.  

Full Proposal: At the full proposal stage, Foundation staff will review submissions for eligibility, and all eligible proposals will be reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Board. During deliberations on the proposals, the Scientific Advisory Board will recommend a group of full proposal applicants for funding to the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation Board of Directors.  

Board of Directors:  The Board of Directors of the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation will make final decisions on funding, based on recommendations from the Scientific Advisory Board.   

Feedback: Because of the large number of requests, the Foundation is regrettably unable to provide panel comments from the Letter of Intent stage. If invited to submit a full proposal, all applicants will receive brief summary comments from the Scientific Advisory Board’s deliberations, upon request.