W.M. Keck Foundation: Grants for Disease

OVERVIEW: The W. M. Keck Foundation offers generous grants for basic medical research in emerging areas of research that have high potential for breakthroughs, yet are not winning government support. It doesn't back clinical or translational research.

IP TAKE: If your research is a bit out there, this funder may be for you—especially if you're taking an interdisciplinary approach. Keck likes taking risks in its grant funding.

PROFILE: The W.M. Keck Foundation wants to support novel ideas: unorthodox and unconventional approaches to the research, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, or as the foundation puts it, those that challenge “the prevailing paradigm.” 

Disease related grants tend to come out of Keck’s Research Program. According to the foundation, historically grants have ranged from $500,000 to $5 million, but most are $2 million or less. To qualify for a Keck Research Program grant, you have to apply through an eligible institution, which includes research universities, medical colleges, and independent scientific and medical research institutes.

The foundation doesn’t require its grantees to study specific diseases of Keck’s choosing. However, all funded work must show some significant promise and breakthrough potential. It should be noted that the foundation does not fund “clinical or translational research, treatment trials or research for the sole purpose of drug development.”

All grant applicants must follow Keck’s two-phase application process or risk being disqualified. The process is relatively straightforward, but it should be noted that prior to submitting a Phase One application, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their ideas for grants in the form of a single-page concept paper. So be prepared to write a couple of drafts to pare down your approach into one page. Also, all applications must be certified by the President or CEO of the applicant’s institution.

PEOPLE:

  • Maria Pellegrini, Executive Director of Programs 
  • Robert Day, Chairman
  • Matt Day, Vice Chairmain
  • James Ukropina, Vice Chair
  • Allison Keller, Senior Vice President, CFO and Executive Director
  • Mercedes Talley, Program Director
  • Betty Liu, Senior Program Officer, Medical Research

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