NEW Seed Grant Opportunity

Technical Questions

Please direct any inquiries regarding the proposal process to Michael Hickner (814-867-1847)

FRAPP/Administrative Questions

Please direct any inquiries regarding FRAPP or other administrative issues to Donna Lucas (814-863-8407)


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NEW Seed Grant Opportunity

Convergence Seed Grant Opportunity

Convergence of Materials and Life Sciences – NIH and Imaging Focused Seed Grants 2018-2019

Breaking News: The deadline for submission has been extended to February 9th, 2018.  We are welcoming the College of Medicine as a funding partner to join MRI and Huck in this important program.

The Materials Research Institute (MRI) and Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences (Huck) have identified themes of convergence where we are asking faculty to develop high risk, high impact, transformative ideas that will enable Penn State faculty to obtain preliminary data that can be used to pursue NIH grants with the various NIH institutes in the areas of:

  1. Understanding living cells and tissues as self-adaptive, self-healing materials in development and disease for disease intervention (NIGMS/NIA/NIBIB).
  2. Mechano-, electro-, opto-, magneto-biology: understanding the cellular responses to different physical cues, and accordingly developing new materials and devices for disease diagnosis and therapy (NCI/NIAID/NIBIB/BIGMS).
  3. Novel materials and devices for cell sorting including filtration of cells, platelets, viruses, and other important blood components and pathogens; (NHLBI/NCI/NIAID).
  4. Developing multifunctional materials for bioenergy harvesting, biosensing, and biostimulation for powering miniaturized bioimplantable devices, disease diagnosis, and neuron repair, etc; (NHLBI/NIBIB/NINDS)
  5. Biomimetic materials design for biomedical applications; (NIGMS/NIBIB) 
  6. Immunology and regenerative medicine and tissues: harness innate human immune system to overcome the grand challenges in modern drug/gene delivery, disease targeting and treatment, wound healing; (NCI/BHLBI/NIBIB/NIAMS)
  7. 3D microenvironment, tissue models, and engineering tools (such as gene editing) to study cancer and (stem or progenitor) cell biology; (NCI/NHLBI/NHGRI)
  8. New materials, biomanufacturing tools and enabling devices for biosensing, biomedical imaging, surgery, and regenerative medicine. (NCI/NHLBI/NIAMS/NIBIB)
  9. Imaging.  Cryo electron microscopy, super-resolution microscopy, in-situ techniques, and developments in imaging to address NIH goals above.

Requirements for the proposed seed grant program:

  • Teaming. Multiple co-PIs (2 or more) will be required from different departments – preferably different colleges.  The teams will have to clearly demonstrate both their materials and life sciences expertise and ability to attract NIH funding.  Mentoring opportunities of junior faculty will be considered favorably.
  • NIH relevance.  The proposers must identify specific NIH programs that they are targeting and outline an approach and timetable for submission of a grant to NIH.  Examples are given below, but not limited to:

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Imaging-focused proposals that support NIH programs and goals are also encouraged.


Seed Grant Eligibility

All Penn State faculty members (tenured/tenure track, and fixed term research faculty) who hold an appointment of half-time or more at any Penn State location are eligible to submit a seed grant proposal as a Principal Investigator (PI). Researchers, students and staff from Penn State may be included as collaborators in seed grant proposals. Please note that while most proposals are expected to include multiple investigators, there can only be one responsible PI for each application.

Funding Availability

Funding is available through this seed grant solicitation for 2018-2019.   To encourage establishment of new collaborations and enhancement of networks, larger grants will require innovative partnerships of investigators from multiple colleges and/or campus locations. Grant funds will be available by April 1, 2018 and must be expended by July 31, 2019.  Typical grant size is targeted for $20,000 to $50,000 although larger and smaller amounts will be considered.

Submission Instructions

All proposals must be submitted electronically to MRI via  no later than 5:00 pm on Friday February 9, 2018. Each proposal is limited to a 2-page project description and additional pages for an appendix.

The project description must include the following:

  • Title of project (Please include "Convergence Seed" before your project title)
  • List of PI and collaborators
  • Short description of the project/why this is a significant opportunity
  • Short description of how this project will leverage seed funding
  • Nature of collaboration (new/existing; mentorship opportunities)
  • How will the team promote/leverage this work for significant external funding at NIH?
  • Total funding to be requested, including short description of anticipated expenditures

The appendix will include a list of all collaborators, their colleges and/or departments, and 1-page resumes for the PI and all co-PI’s.

Using Funding Request web site:

This is a short three-step process.

Step 1

  1. Unit – pick MRI

Step 2

  1. Enter required/relevant information on application page. Be sure to….
    • Enter title of project (Please include "Convergence Seed" before your project title)
    • Enter any co-PIs
    • Brief description of project
    • Dates: Start/end dates should be April 1, 2018 – July 31, 2019
    • Funding type is seed grant
    • Ignore Agency Information
    • Deliverables will be a final report to submitted to MRI and the due date will be August 30, 2019.
    • If there is other financial support that you will be leveraging please indicate
    • In step 3 put your total request amount in 2018 and $0 in 2019 and hit continue

Step 3

  1. List requests
  2. View your request
  3. About half way down you will see Upload files. Please complete brief information and upload your 2 page document as well as supporting information requested as either WORD or PDF documents
  4. Submit

Your application is complete. 

Review Criteria

Proposal reviews are based upon the following criteria:

  1. Intellectual merit of the proposal, including relevance to the call; creativity and innovation; significance of goals and results; soundness of research plan; likelihood of successful project completion; and NIH or imaging relevance.
  2. A credible and clearly articulated strategy for leveraging this seed grant investment into exceptional scholarship and/or significant external funding. Potential for additional/continued activity beyond the seed grant phase must include NIH targets and may include plans for continued activity such as applications for external support from federal, state or local government agencies, industry, private foundations, etc.  Targeting NIH funding is the primary goal of this seed grant program.
  3. Appropriateness of the budget request for supporting the proposed research. The intent is not to fund faculty salaries.

Please direct any inquiries regarding the proposal process to Michael Hickner (814-867-1847) for technical questions or Donna Lucas (814-863-8407) for FRAPP/administrative questions.