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Seed Grants for Intercampus Collaborative Projects


Seed Grants for Collaborative Program/Center Projects between

Cornell University Ithaca, Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell Tech

Overall Objective

The purpose of this RFA is to catalyze collaborative interactions among Cornell faculty based in Ithaca and New York City, with a particular eye towards building multi-investigator programs that will be competitive for extramural support.


The recently established Academic Integration Initiative aims to promote collaborations between the Cornell Ithaca campus and our campuses in New York City with the goal of taking discovery at Cornell to the next level of eminence.  It is recognized that the strength and impact of discovery at Weill Cornell would be augmented by drawing on the outstanding and diverse work of Cornell colleagues based in Ithaca and Roosevelt Island.  Similarly, the science ongoing at Weill Cornell, with its orientation towards discoveries and translation related to human health and disease, has great potential to bolster investigation by faculty in Ithaca and Cornell Tech through collaborative efforts.  Fostering interactions between research units will leverage expertise on the three campuses and will result in improved research and educational opportunities university-wide.  Creating synergies among investigators will also enable laboratories to transform individual projects to larger programs with increased impact and visibility.

Recognition by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a Center of Excellence is achieved through the award of program grants, designated as P30’s, P50’s, or P60’s.  Nearly all NIH institutes have such award programs that generally require applicants to present a combination of basic, translational, and clinical research programs for review.  In addition to the stature institutions receive from such awards, Centers of Excellence also provide recipients with flexible resources for research cores and administrative costs, critical research components that are difficult to fund through other mechanisms.  Program grants also provide an outstanding mechanism to build synergies among investigators, bring scientists together from different disciplines around a common theme, and attract the best trainees.  When these programs work optimally, the result is truly a sum that is greater than the component parts. 

In addition to P30’s, P50’s, and P60’s, the NIH supports other multi-investigator grants (including other P grant mechanisms, U grants, SPORES, etc.) that provide similar benefits to the institution and its investigators.  Beyond the NIH, there are other federal agencies and numerous private foundations that have program grant mechanisms that our faculty should be poised to compete for successfully.   Importantly, such grants often serve as a springboard to achieve Center of Excellence status, with more ambitious proposals as programs grow and develop.  It is noted that Cornell University and Weill Cornell have fewer such program grants than peer institutions.  Achieving such programs would not only provide our faculty additional sources of funding and opportunities to build synergies, but would also add stature to the institution among its peers.  This is especially important for the nascent translational centers at Weill Cornell, as each focuses on a domain important to the NIH and the mission of each would fit well into a Center of Excellence.  Additionally, building programs that incorporate proposals from innovative investigators being recruited to the Tech campus and social scientists, engineers, and others on the Ithaca campus in underrepresented or absent areas at Weill Cornell will enrich the environment for discovery on all three campuses and provide a unique flavor to applications we submit to funding agencies.

It is appreciated that achieving program grants involves considerable lead time for establishing critical collaborations and planning compelling proposals.  The goal of this RFA is to incentivize faculty at Weill Cornell and Cornell Ithaca/Cornell Tech to work together to imagine potential program projects, then submit and successfully achieve awards.  The immediate goal (within two years) of the grants stemming from this RFA will be submission of such grants (i.e., P, U, or SPORE) with the proviso that each will include investigators from both New York City (Weill Cornell or both Weill Cornell and Cornell Tech) and Ithaca. 

Important Dates

  • RFA release: October 5, 2017
  • LOI* due: December 15, 2017
  • LOI decision: January 2, 2018
  • Full application due: May 4, 2018
  • Application decision: June 2018
  • Earliest start date: July 1, 2018
  • Latest start date: September 1, 2018

*Submission and approval of an LOI is not a requirement for full application submission.  Applications submitted without a prior LOI will be subject to an initial review for responsiveness to the RFA.


This mechanism will provide the following three levels of longitudinal support per project:

  1. Travel grant ($2,000) for successful LOI’s that can be used for transportation (campus to campus bus) and accommodations for PIs to meet as they plan their full submission.  The Academic Integration Office ( will work with recipients to plan travel.
  2. Seed grant ($200,000 for up to two years) plus $4,000 intercampus travel funds
  3. $100,000 for projects that have submitted—within 24 months of initiating the seed grant—a scored or funded Program/Center grant application to the NIH or other federal agency.

Eligibility Requirements

  • All proposals must include at least four co-principal investigators with representation from both WCM and Cornell Ithaca. Participation from Cornell Tech, where appropriate, is strongly encouraged.  One individual must be named as the contact PI.
  • It is recognized that an investigator from outside of Cornell might bring a unique feature to a program being considered by a Cornell-based team.  If the team chooses to include a faculty member from another institution, this should be discussed in advance with Vice Dean Koretzky.
  • Each proposal should include at least four projects.
  • While potential cores for an eventual proposal that will be submitted to an external funder should be described (see below), this RFA is not designed to provide support for such cores.
  • At least two of the Co-PI’s must each hold at least one active federal grant award at the time of full application submission and seed grant launch.  
  • All awardees are expected to submit a Program or Center grant application for competitive review to the NIH or another funding agency within 24 months of initiating the seed grant.
  • This RFA is designed both to build new collaborative research programs between the campuses that have significant promise for future success and to help propel developing collaborations to reach the level that extramural support can be obtained.  Hence, investigator teams that have not collaborated before, as well as those already working together are encouraged to submit applications.

Application Guidelines

LOI (due December 15th, 2017):

The following items should be submitted, in the order listed, as a single PDF in the following order: 

  • Microsoft Office document iconName and contact information for contact PI and Co-PIs
  • Briefly, describe the anticipated focus of the seed grant and the ultimate Program/Center grant (two-page limit) including:
    • The anticipated projects for the seed grant, and the lead PI(s) on each
    • Describe the synergies, between the labs and the campuses that the team plans to realize, how does the sum add up to more than the parts?
    • What novel areas of research does the team plan to explore?
    • What NIH or other Program/Center grant applications could the seed grant culminate in?

Submit your LOI through the Intercampus Seed Grant Submission Tool.

Full application (due May 4, 2018):

The following items should be submitted, in the order listed, as a single PDF in the following order:

  • Cover page: including full contact information of the contact PI and each Co-principal investigator, abstract of up to 250 words, a list of relevant approved or pending IACUC/IRB protocols for both campuses.
  • Overall Program Research Strategy: (two-page limit, excluding references):
    • brief description of the component projects and how they work synergistically
    • planned cores or other shared resources
    • one paragraph description of how extramural funds will be sought: include funding agency, grant type, and projected date of submission
  • Individual Research Projects: For each component project, provide (one-page maximum, excluding references) a description of the research plan including:
    • Aims
    • Significance and Innovation
    • Preliminary Results
    • Experimental Design  
  • File NIH-style biographical sketch for each investigator
  • File NIH-style other support for each investigator
  • FileNIH-style budget and budget justification anticipating an allocation of $200,000 for up to two years.  Note, resources cannot be used for faculty salaries or travel.

Submit your full application through the Intercampus Seed Grant Submission Tool.

Selection Criteria

A peer review committee will be convened to evaluate each LO1 and then each full proposal and make recommendations about funding priority using the following criteria:  

  • Quality of the collaborative research proposal
  • Potential to lead to cross-campus program/center grant applications
  • Focus on emerging areas of science that constitute high priority funding areas for the NIH and other federal funders
  • Creative bridging of divergent scientific niches that have either not traditionally come together or have not done so effectively
  • Potential to create clear synergies and long-term collaborations
  • Maximizes training opportunities for postdoctoral fellows and students across the campuses
  • Tech Campus participation, if appropriate, would strengthen an application. 

Funding Terms

To maximize use of these resources to obtain data for a Program/Center grant application, the $200,000 seed grant funds may not be used for PI salary support or travel. However, a separate award of up to $4000 will be provided for intercampus travel for co-PIs and trainees in addition to the seed grant funds.  The Academic Integration Office ( will facilitate travel planning. 

If a non-Cornell faculty member is named as part of the team, any resources directed towards that individual or his/her institution must be discussed in advance with Vice Dean Koretzky.

All awardees are expected to submit a Program or Center grant application for competitive review to the NIH or another funding agency within 24 months of initiating the seed grant.

Funding will be contingent on obtaining the appropriate IACUC/IRB protocol approvals for the projects.

Awardees must inform the WCM Vice Dean’s Office when an application for external grant funding is submitted and the outcome of the review.

Evaluation of progress

Awardees must file a progress report one year after funds are dispersed, and a final progress report at the end of the funding period, if more than one year of support was provided.  


Gary A. Koretzky, MD, PhD
Vice Dean, Weill Cornell Medicine
Tel: 212-746-1361