Funding Spotlight

Funding Spotlight RSS - Subscribe for funding opportunity updates!

Questions about any of the funding opportunities listed below can be addressed to Erin Hale or Susan Gomes on 617-496-9448.

Internal Harvard Opportunities

Limited Submission Opportunities

External Opportunities

Internal Harvard Opportunities

Deadline: February 28, 2020 by 5:00PM
Award Amount: $150,000 maximum for single investigator projects; $300,000 maximum for multi-investigator projects
Eligible Applicants: Ladder faculty members in SEAS, FAS, HMS, and HSPH
The Star-Friedman Challenge for Promising Scientific Research provides seed funding to interdisciplinary high-risk, high-impact projects in the life, physical, and social sciences. Early-stage projects that are unlikely to receive funding from traditional grant-making agencies are encouraged. Applications will be evaluated for their significance, innovation, potential impact, interdisciplinarity, and the ability of the applicant or team of applicants to successfully carry out the project.

Fund for Research on the Foundations of Human Behavior
Deadline: 11:59pm on the last day of February, May, August, and November
Award Amount: Maximum $40,000 for ladder faculty, $5,000 for doctoral students and post-docs
Eligible applicants: Harvard University full time doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows, and ladder faculty

These research funds support proposals that promise to advance understanding of the social, institutional and biological mechanisms shaping human beliefs and behavior. The funds will be used to support interdisciplinary social science research projects based on innovative experimental or observational designs that make use of sophisticated quantitative methods. The Fund also supports seminars, conferences, and other research-related activities.

Dean's Competitive Fund for Promising Scholarship
Deadline: March 10, 2020 by 5:00PM
Award Amount: $5,000 - $50,000

The Dean's Competitive Fund for Promising Scholarship is a targeted program that provides funding in the following categories:

  • Bridge funding, to allow faculty to continue work on previously funded research, scholarship, or creative activity that does not currently have external funding. Faculty who apply in this category should demonstrate that efforts have been made or will be made to obtain new external funding.
  • Seed funding, to encourage faculty to launch exciting new scholarship or research directions that might not yet be ready to compete in traditional funding programs.
  • Enabling subventions, to provide small funds to purchase (or upgrade) critical equipment. Applicants for such funds must have no existing startup funds on which they could draw for this purpose.

In addition, the Inequality in America Initiative is providing an additional increment of bridge and seed funding to support basic research and applied projects aimed at advancing the understanding of the causes and consequences of inequality, testing interventions, and developing and disseminating resources. The Initiative is especially interested in supporting research projects that engage with the core themes of the initiative and that involve any of the following: interdisciplinary collaboration among departments or Harvard schools; new and early career investigators; training opportunities for undergraduates and graduate students.

The William F. Milton Fund
Deadline: April 1, 2020
Award Amount: Up to $50,000
Eligible Applicants: Applications are invited from individuals who hold a junior faculty appointment. This includes Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, and Junior Fellows of the Harvard Society of Fellows.

The Milton Fund supports research projects in the fields of medicine, geography, history and science that promote the physical and material welfare and prosperity of the human race, investigate and determine the value and importance of any discovery or invention, or assist in the discovery and perfecting of any special means of alleviating or curing human disease.  The Office of the Vice Provost for Research administers the Milton Fund.  

Limited Submission Opportunities
For upcoming competitions, see our list of annually recurring limited submission opportunities

Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Foundation Grants Program
Harvard Pre-Proposal Deadline: June 1, 2020 by 12 PM
Sponsor Deadline: August 1, 2020
Award Amount: $60,000 per year for up to three years

The Mallinckrodt Foundation supports early stage investigators engaged in biomedical research that has the potential to significantly advance the understanding, diagnosis, or treatment of disease. The funds are designed to provide faculty members who hold M.D. and/or Ph.D. degrees, and who are in the first to fourth year of a tenure-track position (appointed on or after August 1, 2016), with support to move the project forward to the point where R01 or other independent funding can be obtained. Applicants with current R01 funding are not eligible to apply.

This is a limited submission opportunity and Harvard may put forward only one nominee to submit a proposal. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research will conduct the internal competition to select the Harvard nominee. To be considered for the Harvard nomination, potential applicants must submit an internal pre-proposal via the link above.

External Funding

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Program
Deadline: March 18, 2020
Award Amount: Investigators receive salary and benefits from the Institute, and are provided generous financial support for research as well as access to capital equipment funds.

The HHMI Investigator Program supports nearly 300 Investigators, located at more than 60 research institutions across the United States, who are widely known for their scientific discoveries, their innovation, and their success in pushing the bounds of knowledge in biomedical research. HHMI seeks independent researchers and physician-scientists who are pursuing discoveries in basic biology and biomedicine nationwide. HHMI provides Investigators with unusually generous and flexible support for renewable seven-year terms. Investigators maintain their academic appointments and labs at their home institutions across the US.

The Investigator Program is open to individuals who:

  • hold a PhD and/or MD (or the equivalent).
  • have a tenured or tenure-track position as an assistant professor or higher academic rank (or the equivalent) at an eligible US institution. Federal government employees are not eligible.
  • have more than five but no more than 15 years of post-training, professional experience. To meet this requirement, the applicant’s first professional appointment must have begun no earlier than March 1, 2005, and no later than April 1, 2015.
  • are the principal investigator on one or more active, national, peer-reviewed research grants with an initial duration of at least three years as of April 1, 2020. Mentored awards and training grants do not qualify. Multi-investigator grants may qualify.

Although they retain academic appointments at their respective institutions, Investigators must become full-time employees of HHMI, which provides full salary and benefits. Investigators are appointed for a seven-year, renewable period. Investigators are required to devote at least 75% of their professional activities to the direct conduct of research. Applicants with administrative responsibilities or other duties inconsistent with this time commitment may apply but must reduce those other commitments prior to their appointment.

Breakthrough Prizes – Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences, and Mathematics
Sponsor Deadline: April 1, 2020
Review by Harvard OSP not required
Prize Amount: $3,000,000

The Breakthrough Prizes recognize major achievements in life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics, with special attention to recent developments.

One Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics ($3 million) will recognize an individual(s) who has made profound contributions to human knowledge. It is open to all physicists – theoretical, mathematical, and experimental – working on the deepest mysteries of the Universe. The prize can be shared among any number of scientists. Nominations are also being taken for the New Horizons Prize in Physics, which awards $100,000 to junior researchers who have already produced important work in their fields.

Up to four Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences ($3 million each) will be awarded to individuals who have made transformative advances in understanding living systems and extending human life. One prize per year is for work contributing to the understanding of Parkinson’s Disease & Neurodegenerative Disorders.

One Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics ($3 million) will be awarded to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of mathematics. Nominations are also being taken for the New Horizons Prize in Mathematics, which awards $100,000 to early career mathematicians who have already produced important work in their fields.


  • Anyone may nominate a candidate at the online nominations page during the open nominations period.
  • Self-nominations are not allowed.
  • A valid nomination will have basic biographical information on the nominee and nominator and at least one third-party letter of recommendation.
  • Candidate citations (up to 10) from a specified academic publishing database are required.
  • Nominations can be made online at

While institutional review is not required, nominators are asked to provide the names of any FAS or SEAS nominees to Erin Hale at