Keck Foundation Research Program

W.M. Keck Foundation (Keck) - n/a

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Investigators: The following program summary is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It does not replace the sponsor’s actual proposal solicitation. Always review the most recent version of the sponsor’s full proposal solicitation to verify that the deadline has not changed and to identify the most current program requirements.

Program Summary

Biannually, the Keck Foundation will consider one proposal per institution per grant cycle per program area. Rice is eligible for both the Science & Engineering Research Program and the Medical Research Program.  To determine which project(s) from Rice get(s) pitched in a given grant cycle, we have developed the following internal application process.

The Foundation strives to fund collaborative endeavors that are distinctive and novel in their approach. Projects are typically team-based. Keck encourages projects that are high-risk with 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. In all programs, "transformative" may mean creation of a new field of research, development of new instrumentation enabling observations not previously possible, or discovery of knowledge that challenges prevailing perspectives.

Prior to Phase I written submission to the Foundation, the Vice Provost for Research is invited to conduct a concept conference call with Foundation program officers regarding Rice’s potential project(s). This process will serve to select project(s) to be discussed on that call. The Foundation requests that PIs not participate in the initial screening phone call.

Program Background

Keck Research Program priorities

Funding is awarded to universities and institutions nationwide for projects in research that:

  • Focus on important and emerging areas of research
  • Have the potential to develop breakthrough technologies, instrumentation or methodologies
  • Are innovative, distinctive and interdisciplinary
  • Demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm
  • Have the 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
  • Does not focus on clinical or translational research, treatment trials or research for the sole purpose of drug development
  • Fall outside the mission of public funding agencies
  • Demonstrate that private philanthropy generally, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in particular, is essential to the project’s success

Not eligible for funding:

  • General operating expenses, endowments or deficit reduction
  • General and federated campaigns, including fundraising events, dinners or mass mailings
  • Grants to individuals
  • Conference or seminar sponsorship
  • Book publication and film or theater productions
  • Public policy research

Internal application steps (for both Science & Engineering and Medical):

  1. Review the program priorities to determine if your project fits within Keck’s interests
  2. Review grant abstracts of funded projects. Medical:; Science & Engineering:
  3. Prepare a Concept Paper using the guidelines (under "additional comments").
  4. Submit concept paper to Margaret Guerrero, Director of Foundation Relations, at by November 30, 2018. Concepts submitted by this date will be considered by Vice Provost for Research Yousif Shamoo for submission to the Keck Foundation’s conference call period.
  5. Await notification

Program Details

Typically we discuss 3-4 concept papers per program during the conference call. Rice is allowed to submit up to one phase I proposal for each program following the conference call.
  • Research project
  • Engineering
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Natural Sciences
  • U.S. citizens may apply
  • U.S. permanent residents may apply
  • Foreign nationals may apply
Awards for this application cycle are expected to be for $1,000,000 per program (over three years).
Three years
5-6 per program
Voluntary cost share is allowed but not required

If your dean and/or dept chair are/is willing to contribute financially (cost-share) to your project at this point, please note that in your concept paper because it will strengthen your request.

Keck Foundation Concept Papers Guidelines (from

Single-paged (12 pt font) concepts for the Medical Research and Science & Engineering programs should include:

  1. an overview of the proposed project emphasizing any unique aspects and pilot studies;
  2. a brief description of the key personnel and methodologies;
  3. a brief justification of the need for Keck support, meaning why this project would not be fundable by a federal agency. If the proposal has been submitted to a federal agency and declined, please indicate so; and
  4. an estimated budget broken down, if possible, by major areas, e.g., personnel, equipment, consumable supplies, etc. (budgets can be rough approximations at this stage).

Additional required information for Rice purposes (need not fit on the single page):

  1. the program (Medical Research or Science & Engineering) that you would like to be considered for;
  2. list of current and pending grants for each PI, with particular note of any federal agency rejections;
  3. if your dean and/or dept chair are/is willing to contribute financially (cost-share) to your project at this point, please note that because it will strengthen your request.


Questions?  Contact Margaret Guerrero, Director, Foundation Relations, at or 713-348-5037.

Rice Internal Due Dates

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Sponsor Due Dates

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Application Instructions

To complete the letter of intent (LOI) form and apply for this limited submission funding opportunity, log in and then click the "Submit an LOI" button in the "Actions" panel above.

Upon submission, you should receive an automatic reply indicating that your submission was received. If you do not receive such a reply, please contact the Office of Proposal Development (OPD) or the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations (OCFR).