Laura and John Arnold Foundation: Grants for Science Research

OVERVIEW: The Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s major vehicle for funding scientific research is its Research Integrity program. Most funding from this program has gone to two major recipients, but large awards have been made to other grantees as well.

IP TAKE: This foundation’s science giving is all about changing the status quo by increasing the rigor, reliability, and transparency of research. Inquiries can be solicited online, but unsolicited applications are not accepted.

PROFILE: The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) is very much about transformation and reform, looking for innovative new models and especially championing openness and transparency. Specifically, the foundation seeks “to address our nation’s most pressing and persistent challenges using evidence-based, multi-disciplinary approaches...that target the root causes” of these issues with solutions that are “both scalable nationally and sustainable.” This objective is probably most apparent in the foundation’s work in education reform, its biggest priority.

Other programs include Criminal Justice, Other programs include Criminal Justice, Evidence-Based Policy and Innovation, Research Integrity, Sustainable Public Finance, and a catch-all area called New Initiatives.

But a large focus area, Research Integrity, carries a similar zest for shaking things up. Instead of just supporting individual researchers, the Arnolds want to see increased rigor across all research. Research Integrity is all about improving the reliability of published studies, with an emphasis on openness and participation among peers.

LJAFs program seeks, from the start of the process, to bring research out in the open before the greater science community. Toward that goal, they fund watchdog programs promoting open science, efforts to replicate existing studies, and researchers who can provide robust and meaningful work in areas where it is currently lacking.

The general pattern appears to be that the Arnolds and their staff keep an eye out for qualified parties who have big ideas and ambitions to improve their fields, and then back them in a big way.

Recent grantees have received support for research in areas such as climate change, the health effects of sugar, lung cancer screenings, workshops on publication standards, the creation of a searchable database to “rank” newly-approved medicines and vaccines, and studies related to K-12 education.

Grants out of the Research Integrity program are rather substantial, ranging anywhere from $100,000 to $24 million. To get a broader sense of the types of projects and organizations LJAF supports, browse through its recent grants page.

All of this suggests that Arnold’s science research giving is very targeted and strategic, meaning they are looking for just the right project to back heavily. The initiative does make grants, but by invitation only.

This will be a foundation to watch very closely, especially if your work involves reproducing existing studies and/or nutrition science in order to verify their validity.

The foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, but it will review inquiries, which can be submitted online, and it also issues calls for proposals.

PEOPLE:

  • Denis Calabrese, President
  • Stuart Buck, Vice President, Research Integrity
  • Meredith McPhail, Manager, Research Integrity

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