Call for Proposals: HSCI Collaborative Seed Grants 2020

December 2, 2019
Award amount: $100,000 per project per year for up to two years
Posted date: Monday, December 2, 2019
Deadline for application: Friday, February 28, 2020
Anticipated award date: Friday, May 1, 2020


The mission of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute is to find cures for human diseases. Through collaborative research in the fields of stem cell and regenerative biology, we seek to: 

  • Stimulate healing in patients by harnessing the potential of stem cells 
  • Create targeted treatments by combining new gene- and cell-based therapies with traditional medicines 
  • Accelerate drug discovery by developing novel stem cell-based tools. 

To advance this mission, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) invites applications for collaborative seed grant funding for its 2020 cycle. The purpose of this program is to provide funding for innovative, collaborative projects with the overarching goal of helping discover new drugs/medicines. 

New this year is the requirement that two (or more) investigators from different programs/institutions within the Harvard system collaborate on the project. The HSCI intends to award up to five grants in response to this call for proposals, contingent upon the number and quality of the proposals received, as well as the availability of HSCI funds. 

As part of the application process, applicants will be asked to verify whether their proposal fits the designation of translational science. In determining whether a proposal falls into the translational science category, please consider the aim(s) of your proposal. In general, proposals that fall into the category of translational science are those which aim at: 

  • Producing new therapies and/or therapeutic products (e.g. cellular products, large/small molecules, biomaterials, etc.), or 
  • Discovering the mechanisms, pathways, or models underlying such therapies/therapeutic products, or 
  • Manufacturing and testing stem cell-based therapies using studies designed to fulfill all applicable institutional, state, and federal regulatory requirements 

Any seed grants awarded during this cycle will be funded at up to $100,000 in total costs (including indirect costs, maximum 20% of total direct costs-basis) per year, for a period not to exceed two years. 

All proposals will be reviewed by the HSCI Executive Committee. 

The HSCI reserves the right to not award any seed grants in the 2020 cycle. 

Application due date: Friday, February 28, 2020 

Eligibility criteria

All investigators working in the field of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard and its affiliated institutions are welcome to apply. Investigators need not already be faculty of HSCI. In order to be awarded an HSCI seed grant, an investigator must meet all of the following criteria (as verified by a research/finance administrator at the investigator’s home institution): 

  • Have Principal Investigator status at their home institution 
  • Have independent laboratory space assigned to them in their own name (i.e. not assigned space via another investigator) 
  • Have independent funding sources in their own name (i.e. institutional start-up funds or sponsored awards) 
  • Have any necessary approvals for proposed research in place no later than May 1, 2020. 

Proposals for projects must include collaborating investigators (co-PIs - see “FAQ” document for additional details). Both PIs must meet all of the eligibility criteria listed above. 

Investigators who have previously received two or more HSCI seed grants or program grants (in aggregate) are not eligible to apply. 

Application requirements and guidelines

All proposals submitted in response to this call for proposals must contain the following components, each of which must include the enumerated elements: 

1. Proposal Title & Abstract (1 pg. max.)

1.1. Proposal title, PI(s) name(s), PI(s) home institution(s) 

1.2. Abstract (lay-oriented language, 2,500 characters, incl. spaces, max.) 

2. Research Proposal (3pgs. max., with pages numbered)*

2.1. Background/Rationale 

2.2. Specific research aims 

2.3. Preliminary studies (if applicable) 

2.4. Statement about the translational aspect of the research and how the collaboration will be managed 

* Pages listing references do NOT count against 3 pg. limit 

3. Annual Budget Pages

3.1. Total annual costs may not exceed $100,000, including indirect costs 

3.2. Indirect costs may not exceed 20% of total direct costs 

3.3. For proposals in which PIs have different home institutions, submit separate budgets which show the amount of funding called for each PI 

* Equipment is not allowed on HSCI seed grants 

* Travel may not exceed $1k 

* HSCI budget template strongly encouraged (click here to download template) 

4. Budget Justification (1 pg. max.)

4.1. Justify all proposed budget items at the line-item level of detail 

4.2. Describe effort committed by all personnel on budget, even if no salary called 

5. PI Biosketch (2 pgs. max. per biosketch)*

5.1. NIH format 

5.2. List recent financial support and indicate if directly applicable to the proposed project 

5.3. May include up to 10 listings of recent/relevant publications 

* Include biosketches for any co-PIs or co-I. 

6. Letter of Institutional Review & Approval*

6.1. Must be signed by an authorized institutional representative (as determined by investigator’s home institution’s policies for research proposal submission) as confirmation that the home institution has reviewed and approved the research and budget 

* For a collaborative proposal in which PIs have different home institutions, a letter from each institution is required 

7. Appendices (optional)

7.1. One copy each of no more than two relevant publications may be attached to the proposal 

Submission process

The 2020 HSCI Seed Grant application can be found here

The application accommodates up to three collaborating PIs. Please notify Robert Perez if you are submitting a project with more than 3 PIs. Applicants must complete the online application by the submission deadline. 

  • Complete all required fields 
  • Upload all proposal documents in PDF format 
  • Proposal components should be ordered according to the order listed above 
  • Proposals must be submitted by 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on Friday, February 28, 2020. 
  • You will receive an email confirmation of your submission; save this email for your records 

Incomplete applications will not be considered. 

Applications will be reviewed by the HSCI Executive Committee in mid-March, and all applicants will be notified of the outcome of the review process by mid-April. Successful applicants will be issued a seed grant with a funding start date of May 1, 2020. 

Review criteria

The goal of the HSCI is to improve human health by supporting basic, translational, or clinical work in any field of stem cell biology. Factors for reviewers’ consideration include: scientific quality, relevance to the HSCI mission and its goal to develop new drugs/medicines, potential to promote collaboration within the HSCI community, value for money, and regulatory issues. 

The HSCI Executive Committee will evaluate proposals primarily for their potential to advance these goals. However, the HSCI will also consider the potential of the proposal to secure funding from other sources as-is, and/or the potential of the proposed research, if successful, to secure follow-on funding from public, philanthropic, or commercial sources. 


Questions about the HSCI Seed Grant Program may be addressed to Robert Perez, HSCI Grants Officer, at

Thank you for your interest in the HSCI. 

2020_seed_grant_rfp.pdf231 KB
2020_hsci_seed_grant_faq.pdf194 KB
See also: Announcement