HSCI supports ideas that are not typically funded from traditional sources--either because the research is too early-stage or because it came from a scientist who is still too junior to compete with larger, well-established laboratories.
Some of these "high risk" projects that HSCI funded 5 or 10 years ago are now paying back, such as in the form of a new treatment for hernias or an advance in our understanding of early-stage Alzheimer's disease.
HSCI has two areas of early-stage research investments:
The purpose of the HSCI Seed Grant program has been to provide early-stage funding for novel research projects that address challenges from across the field of stem cell and regenerative biology. Over the past nine years, the Seed Grant program has served as an important community-building tool, helping junior researchers to establish their labs, and providing senior researchers new to stem cell science with a community of peers. Throughout its history, the Seed Grant program as placed a particular emphasis on projects that were not yet suitable for consideration by traditional funding sources.
In 2013, the HSCI awarded nine seed grants to scientists within the local research community working in many different areas of stem cell biology. The grants provided more than $1.6 million in critical, early-stage funding for stem cell research and were awarded to investigators at five Harvard-affiliated institutions.
The 2013 seed grants supported stem cell research in a variety of targeted disease areas such as diabetes, nervous system, and cardiovascular diseases. The grants will also support research in areas of stem cell and regenerative biology that are broadly applicable, such as tissue regeneration and gene mapping. Applications in both basic and translational science categories were considered, and were received from nine research institutions in the Boston area.
The HSCI Junior Faculty Programs are unique in their support for highly collaborative, "high risk/high return" projects. The research proposed by the faculty members typically explores new approaches in which their individual labs can accelerate their own work by collaborating with others to tackle a large question. By pooling their efforts, junior faculty members can secure funding from HSCI to pursue their ideas, which can then be further supported with outside grants as the results roll in. The programs not only offer a chance to make bold new discoveries, but they also serve as an important bridge to stability at the early stage of a scientist's career.