Incrementalists Need Not Apply: $110,000 a Year for T1D Breakthroughs

Woe be to the champions of the incremental improvement. Many, many researchers are out there plugging away, making tweaks to hypotheses that already exist, or engineering better technologies to improve what’s already standard treatment delivery systems, or cutting the nasty side effects out of good drugs. No one seems interested in supporting these kinds of projects, helpful as they may be. Most foundations, and especially the ones that are handing out hefty awards, want the medical research equivalent of the Big Bang: a breakthrough.

Thing is, it can be hard to encourage researchers, especially young researchers, to stick with the road that may lead to breakthroughs. Veering off the well-traveled road and into the bushes to try untested hypotheses may seem noble and daring at first, but months of research can go by without much progress at all. Years can pass. Working for incremental advances at least has the advantage of gratification—not exactly instant gratification, but still. 

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has never been about that approach. From the beginning, the JDRF has been about curing type 1 diabetes, and its breakthrough-chasing approach is most evident in its Innovative Grant Program. The RFP for 2015’s round was just announced. “Grants of up to $110,000 over twelve months will be awarded for research that addresses key outstanding questions and has the potential to lead to a change in the current paradigm or conventional wisdom and/or lead to a groundbreaking discovery in the treatment, prevention, or cure of T1D,” reads the RFP. “The program does not support proposals aimed at incrementally advancing existing hypotheses, ongoing areas of research, or proposals with the sole goal of generating novel reagents or resources.” Just in case it wasn’t clear.

Both domestic and foreign organizations are eligible to apply, and there is no citizenship requirement. JDRF does clarify that this is for innovative, but not pilot or research tool projects.

Visit the website for a full RFP.