Charles E. Kaufman Foundation: Grants for Science Research


OVERVIEW: The Charles E. Kaufman Foundation is a relatively new funder housed within the Pittsburgh Foundation, giving to basic science in biology, chemistry, and physics at research institutions in Pennsylvania.

IP TAKE: This funder should be at the top of the list for Pennsylvania-based researchers looking for private backing. Awards are given through a competitive application process, with LOI deadlines early in the year. Those based outside of Pennsylvania are not eligible.

PROFILE: When Charles Kaufman passed away in 2010, he left his estate of nearly $50 million to the Pittsburgh Foundation, tasking the community foundation with overseeing giving in his name. It was the largest donation the foundation had received, and $40 million of it was set aside to form the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation, a supporting organization of the community funder.

Kaufman gives to biology, chemistry and physics, backing fundamental research for the betterment and understanding of human life. Similar to the Kavli and Simons foundations, Kaufman gives through cycles of competitive awards, with separate categories:

The New Investigator program is targeted toward researchers early in their careers, inviting applications for scientists “as they transition into academic positions as independent investigators.” The competition is looking for innovative ideas that will lead to transformative advances. Applicants must have received their Ph.D.’s within the past eight years. These grants max out at $150,000 over two years.

The New Initiative program is for “investigators with strong records of research accomplishments to establish collaborations that facilitate innovative interdisciplinary approaches” to their work. The collaborating researchers can be from separate departments or not, but different approaches must be combined to form a new project. Awards are for as much as $300,000 over two years.

It is important to note that in both cases, projects must be focused on “basic” or “pure” science, and that “applied or clinical studies are not supported.”

While the Kaufman Foundation is housed within the community foundation, they’ve assembled a team of experts to serve as a Scientific Advisory Board tasked with guiding the award decisions. The board has seven members from a variety of fields and universities, although at least four at any time must be in Pennsylvania, and at least two must be from outside the state.

So who wins the awards? While there have only been a few rounds so far, grants in some recent years have been heavy on biology and to a lesser extent chemistry and physics, while awards in other years were more evenly distributed across different fields. A full list of awards can be seen here.

To learn more about the eligibility requirements and timeline of the Kaufman awards, see the links below.


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