OVPR SARS-CoV-2 Seed Grants

Cornell Rapid Research Response to SARS-CoV-2. Seed Grant Request for Applications.

The closing date for applications has passed.

Rationale and Scope: The current COVID-19 pandemic crisis relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus requires research institutions such as Cornell to play a leading role in finding effective solutions to understanding the fundamental biology of this virus, combating the disease and reducing the burden on our medical (and other) establishments. To this end, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, the Center for Vertebrate Genomics, the Center for Immunology, and the Office of Academic Integration have joined forces to provide seed funding to invest in innovative research ideas that address this critical global need. The intent of this program is to generate preliminary data for future applications for extramural support. Topics may include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Animal models (mouse, ferret, cat, other)
  • Evolution and ecology of SARS-CoV-2
  • Therapeutics
    • Small molecule screens
    • Vaccine development
    • Anti-viral drug discovery and development
  • Diagnostics for humans and animals
  • Pathogenesis (including both viral and immune-mediated components of disease) of SARS-CoV-2
  • Cryo-EM and structural analysis of the virus and viral proteins
  • Population genetics – susceptibility of different patient cohorts, predictive modeling of resistance and susceptibility
  • Economic and health impact at state, domestic, and global levels (includes health communication)

Please note that separate but related seed grant programs are being implemented by the Cornell Center for Social Sciences (CCSS) and by the Atkinson Center for Sustainability. Applications that are suitable for those seed grant programs should proceed via their submission processes. Once reviewed, all participating units will collaborate to cross-fund the strongest proposals. Similarly, we encourage proposals that include collaborations with investigators and clinicians at Weill Cornell Medicine. In general, we strongly encourage applications from collaborative teams that leverage multi-disciplinary approaches and utilize state-of-the-art technologies that are available on the Cornell Campus. We will prioritize applications that articulate creative, innovative ideas and leverage the unique strengths and capabilities of your laboratory, work of your Cornell colleagues, and the resources available at Cornell. This seed grant program is not intended for the development of biomedical equipment and testing methods for immediate use in the community, but is aimed at basic research strategies to address the aforementioned subject areas.

Application Process: The review will be carried out in two phases, with a rolling acceptance policy, subject to the availability of funds. In Phase I, applicants will provide a one-page research project description that addresses the following:

  1. The Big Idea
  2. Project Rationale and Methodology
  3. The Team: why are you uniquely positioned to do this?
  4. Collaborations and Roles of Collaborators
  5. Phase I Budget Outline (plus Phase II amount to be requested)
  6. Expected/projected target for extramural grant applications resulting from these seed grant efforts. Include link to RFA and deadline dates.

Budget Restrictions: With our limited budget, our aim is to fund as many exciting proposals as possible, so please be reasonable with your budget request. We expect most proposals to be in the range of $10,000 - $30,000 (including both Phase I and Phase II budgets). In Phase I, applicants can apply for up to $10,000, with the remaining amount to be requested in the Phase II application. These resources are intended to support experiments that provide preliminary data for extramural applications, however limited salary support for staff can be provided, up to 50% of the full (Phase I and II combined). Faculty salary, stipends and travel are not eligible expenses, and no indirect costs can be recovered. Please note that Phase II funds will not be released to the applicant until a successful Phase II application has been awarded.

Review Process for Phase I: Applications will be reviewed by a multi-disciplinary committee that has been specially convened for this purpose. We aim to review the applications within one week. Due to the volume of applications anticipated, we will not be able to provide review summaries to applicants. We hope to provide applicants a yes or no response and an approved budget allocation within one week of applying. No revised applications will be accepted for review.

Note: Phase I applications will be reviewed every 2 weeks. While we are eager to fund excellent projects in a timely fashion, we anticipate that we will have funds to support proposals over the next few months.  Hence, we urge applicants to take the time necessary to hone their proposals before submitting.

Compliance Requirements: All SARS-CoV-2 research requires approval from the SARS-CoV-2 Essential Research Approval Committee (SERAC) and from your College-specific approval committee. SERAC review, if not already obtained, can be requested concurrent with submission of your proposal but must be submitted through the SERAC rapid research approval process. Additionally, you are required to fulfill any compliance obligations such as approval for your research activities through IACUC, IBC, IRB, etc., prior to allocation of funds. All research performed under this seed proposal mechanism is subject to all university policies pertaining to COVID-19.

Phase II Process: In order to be considered for Phase II funding, Phase I awardees will be required to submit a Progress Report and Phase II application within 6 weeks from the commencement of the research. This time frame can be negotiated through direct communication with the Review Committee Chair, especially if the proposed activities are expected to require more time to achieve initial goals, or if time is needed to obtain the necessary approvals. If a Phase II application is approved, remaining funds approved in the Phase I application will be dispersed. If rejected, the committed funds will go back into the pool. Phase II applications will consist of a single document, instructions for which will be issued later. All funds must be used within 6 months of the initial award, with extramural grant applications submitted within one year.

For questions and comments, please email Carmel Lee or Paula Cohen.


Note: External funding related to COVID is being posted on the SARS-COV-2 COVID-19 Funding Opportunities and Agency Guidance page.