Research Grants may cover pursuits in the area of hard sciences and social sciences as well as technology. As with other grants, applicants participate in a highly competitive process. In this process their proposed research projects are evaluated and grants are awarded to those deemed most promising. There is of course a subjective element in the judgment here, based on the intent and values of the grantor.
Most research funding comes from the government and from corporate R&D departments. Significant scientific research is also underwritten by philanthropic foundations working on cures for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, malaria, AIDS and others. Read more about Medical Research.
While many research grants go to organizations, there are in fact some which are awarded to indivduals.
For example, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation awards grants in the range of $15,000-40,000k per year, most often to individuals, to address questions concerning “violence and aggression in relation to social change, intergroup conflict, war, terrorism, crime, and family relationships.” Discover more:
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Though not always “grants for research” the MacArthur Foundation gives out annual awards called “Genius Grants” . These are gifts of $625,000 paid out over five years to allow selected individuals complete freedom in pursuing their projects. The most recent awards were announced September 21 and went to 24 people in a wide variety of fields. Interestingly, you can’t apply for these grants. The foundation draws nominees from a continually changing pool of nominators who are invited to submit names. Awards are made not for past accomplishments but for each individual’s “orginality and potential.” So — you can’t apply — but if you’re doing some brilliant, innovative things be sure your work is being seen. You never know when someone could be a “nominator.”
News January 2017 The amount of money available for research grants took a big leap upward recently. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC created by Mark Zuckergerg (Facebook CEO) and wife Dr. Priscilla Chan will be investing up to $3 billion in Facebook stock over the next three years. And their first investment - in the amount of $600 million - will be used to create a research lab in San Francisco. It will be dedicated to creating tools to help rent and treat diseases, and to empower scientists worldwide in their efforts to make advances in this area. The lab will be staffed with research scientists and engineers from nearby schools UCSF, Stanford, and UC Berkeley. Together with the recent $500 million gift made to UCSF by the Diller Foundation, this will make San Francisco the place to be if you’re looking for grants for scientific healthcare related research.
News: While grants.gov can be confusing, it has updated its start page to make things easier on you. Check out our review of grants.gov to learn more. A particular item of interest to note is that you can filter your search results when looking for a research grant that you might actually qualify for. In the search area click “eligibility” for a drop down menu where you can select categories including “individual” and “small business”. Then you will only see results for grants that individuals or small businesses (or both) can win. Choose any category that applies to see results relevant to you. For example, two very different current research grants that individuals or small businesses could win include research and development regarding Photovoltaics ($20 million to support 30-35 research projects!) and research about different types of caregiving for those with Alzheimer's Disease!
More on Medical Research
While medical research grants and scholarships are very competitive, there is a lot of money available from a variety of organizations. These include the federal government, private corporations and non-profit agencies and foundations. The NIH and pharmaceutical companies typically account for over half of medical research funding. You will maximize your chances of an award if you put in the time and effort to identify available grants that best match your area of expertise.
Grants.gov and the websites of individual agencies are a great place to look for grant announcements related to your specialty. A web search specific to medical research grant opportunities in your field may also return unexpected and profitable results.
The federal government is the #1 source of medical research grant dollars. The National Institute of Health (NIH), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the largest source of research funding for medical research in the world. Its definitiveGuide for Grants and Contracts is “the official publication for NIH medical and behavioral research grant policies, guidelines and funding opportunities.” As a result of the federal stimulus program, the NIH has received $8.2 billion in “extramural funding to help stimulate the economy through the support and advancement of scientific research.”
The EPA is also a major grant maker. For instance, just this past January (2017) the EPA awarded about $4 million to two universities. The grants are for research related to the quality of drinking water. As part of their mission to protect public health, the EPA wants to learn how “premise plumbing” — that is, the portions of the water distribution system that is inside the building — is affected by low flow conditions. Those conditions are more prevalent now due to water conservation practices. We’re not sure what all that means but we’re sure the four million dollars mean a lot to the recipients of the grants at Drexel University in Pennsylvania and Purdue University in Indiana.
If you are a post-graduate student or professional seeking a grant from the NIH, you would do well to peruse the very readable Guide to Effective Grant Writing: How to Write a Successful NIH Grant Application by Otto O. Yang.
Dr. Yang writes from his experience sitting on grant review boards and directly addresses the problems he typically sees in grant applications. The book receives glowing reviews for its brevity and clarity as well as for the specific examples provided and the concrete tips for presenting your ideas in the very best light. It is a particularly valuable resource as it provides the perspective of a grant reviewer who does the reading and scoring of grants.
Grants.gov To find available grants on any topic including medical research, it is useful to start with grants.gov. There you can browse by category or do very specific searches.
International Opportunities: Interested in research outside the United States? Newton’s List is a site that promotes international science cooperation. It offers a way to connect both grant makers and those seeking grants. A collaboration by CRDF Global and the U.S. National Science Foundation, Newton’s List is a good place to look for grant opportunities in social science and natural fields.
Web searches You can also find valuable sources of information by simply doing web searches in your particular field of interest. Don't forget to check out sites of corporations (such as Pfizer, Inc.), non-profit organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and non-profit organizations you might not think of, such as NFL Charities. NFL Charities is a non-profit making charitable organization, established by the member clubs of the National Football League (NFL) in 1973. It enables the clubs to collectively make grants to charitable and worthwhile causes at the national level.
GrantsNet GrantsNet is part of the AAAS (the American Association for the Advancement of Science). It describes itself as a “one-stop resource to find funds for research and training in the sciences.” In addition to a search function which lets you look for science-related grants, it also offers a weekly RSS feed, updated weekly, called Funding News. Information includes an up-to-date index of sceince research funding as well as scholarships, fellowships and internships along with near-term due dates for those awards. Information on new grant opportunities can also be received via a weekly email alert. Take advantage of all these resources on the GrantsNet website.
The Spencer Foundation provides grants for research that will improve education. They have a fairly broad definition of what this means so they probably cover a more extensive range of possible topics than other funders. They appreciate the complexity of education and are therefore open to new ideas. Those ideas must be backed up by solid research approaches and strong methods of analysis. Interestingly they have a Small Research Grants program as well as larger awards, so it is worth checking out if you have a creative idea and would like to move forward with it. The next deadline for the Small Research Grants program is May 2, 2016. You can get details about the guidelines and apply online at their website at spencer.org. You can also search their Grants Library to find a funded project byTitle, Author or Book Title.