Collaborative Research Fund

Signing of Fund

The Collaborative Research Fund is a $3,000,000 funding program sponsored by the Virginia and L.E. Simmons Family Foundation and completed its fifth year of proposal review in 2012. The fund is not currently continuing submissions at this time.

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 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. Two-four new grants have been awarded each year of the program and the funding is expected to be the same this year.

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. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact one of the following:
    • Rice University: Dr. Cindy Farach-Carson (; 713-348-5052)
    • Texas Children's Hospital: Dr. Susan Blaney (; 832-822-1482)
      NOTE: Baylor faculty who wish to apply must have their primary clinical or research affiliation with Texas Children's Hospital
    • The Methodist Hospital Research Institute: Dr. James Musser (; 713-441-5890)
  2. Each application must propose original, innovative research in the biological/biomedical sciences that is best done across institutional boundaries. Highly ranked proposals from previous years that have addressed reviewers concerns may be resubmitted for review;
  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. A working title and short description of the research project is due Friday, August 24 at 5:00p.m. (CST). This information can be entered online in the proposal submission system. You will also need to indicate your role on the project and whether or not you will be requesting faculty salary. All other information can be added at a later date and the title information can be updated.
  2. The proposal submission deadline is Friday, September 28 at 5:00p.m. (CST). Awards are expected to be announced on or around December 15, 2012.
  3. The initial review will be done by a committee of outside referees assembled with the help of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The AAAS has an office dedicated to helping universities do such reviews and the committee that is appointed will have the breadth necessary to review proposals across the disciplines represented by the submitted proposals. 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. The outside reviewers will also provide written feedback to the authors of all the proposals.
  4. The CROs of the three institutions or their designees will 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 Foundation, 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.
  5. Rice University will initially administer the logistics and paper work associated with the review process and disbursement of funds and information. If an award is made, there will not be subcontracts. PIs and CoPIs will receive awards directly from their institutions.

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 must be submitted in NIH format.
  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 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 rests 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 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.
  2. The PIs and co-POs of each funded grant will be expected to present the outcomes of their projects 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 foundation 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.
  3. 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?

Website Questions: Contact Kelly Cline (, 713-348-4062) with questions or issues about the website only.

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 December 15, 2012.

Submissions are no longer being accepted as of September 28, 2012.
If you submitted a 2012 proposal and have been asked to make changes, please click here.

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