Research Funding

Foundation for a Smoke-free World Issues RFP for Research at Nexus of COVID-19, Smoking

Deadline: December 15, 2020

The Foundation for a Smoke-free World seeks to conduct research at the nexus of COVID-19, smoking, and nicotine that requires significant collaboration and research involving outside experts and organizations.

Selected organization(s) will be expected to implement a range of projects relevant to the global pandemic, including well-designed and comprehensive pre-clinical, clinical, and epidemiological studies, to better understand the associations between smoking and/or nicotine use, and COVID-19 infection and outcomes.

The spread of COVID-19 has demanded that governments around the world take unprecedented steps to protect their citizens. This has meant restricting the movement of hundreds of millions of people around the world in an effort to limit the transmission of the disease. The situation has created unique challenges for people who are dependent on nicotine, including smokers, nicotine replacement therapy users, and users of alternative nicotine delivery products. There is emerging evidence that both nicotine use and smoking status may have an impact on COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations, as well as disease severity and mortality.

The underrepresentation of smokers in the available COVID-19 patient data and potential selection and measurement biases within existing research outputs requires well-designed epidemiological studies in order to obtain clarity about the true nature and impact of the relationship(s) between COVID-19 and smoking and/or nicotine use. To address current knowledge gaps, this RFP seeks to accelerate research in the following areas: the impacts of tobacco and nicotine products on COVID-19 outcomes; opportunities for interventions aimed at preventing or reducing COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and disease progression; and/or interventions aimed at promoting healthier lifestyles (including but not restricted to nicotine use) in the wake of the pandemic.

To maximize the chances of getting results fast, the foundation seeks to undertake work in settings with sufficient COVID-19 cases and where smoking/nicotine use rates are in excess of 25 percent of the population for men or women. (The foundation will consider regions in which there are existing cohorts of smokers under observation for other reasons and where adding the above research plans are possible.)

Grants of up to $150,000 for scoping/pre-clinical studies, up to $250,000 for epidemiological studies, and up to $500,000 for clinical studies will be awarded. Recommended duration of the grant funding is up to three months for scoping/pre-clinical studies, three to six months for epidemiological studies, and up to twelve months for clinical studies.

The foundation encourages participation by groups whose work aligns with the foundation’s mission to eliminate smoking within a generation. These groups include institutions of higher education, nonprofits, commercial enterprises, governmental agencies, or other research-based organizations. Applicants should have a proven track record suitable for the area of research proposed. Previous research of tobacco and/or nicotine is appreciated but is not a requirement for funding. Successful applicants will likely have an interdisciplinary group of key personnel who can approach this project from their individual fields of expertise (e.g. epidemiologists, clinicians, behavioral economists, basic scientists, and public health specialists). The foundation expects successful applicants to conduct research and publish findings according to Open Science principles, including: declaring hypotheses and proposed analyses up front; making raw data available for analysis; publishing all results, whether positive or negative; and publishing in journals that offer open access.

Applicants should be aware that the foundation’s Initial funding came from Phillip Morris International (PMI). The foundation has nonprofit status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and by law and policy must operate independently from PMI.

All interested parties should submit a detailed proposal for work to the foundation using its online application system. There is no page requirement for submissions, however the application form has links to three templates that must be fully completed for an application to be considered. Applicants will also have the option to upload additional relevant documentation.

The application portal will close at 6:00 p.m. EST on December 15, 2020. In order to capture studies that address various timeframes during the COVID-19 pandemic cycle, the foundation will review and evaluate submitted proposals monthly until closing.

For additional, and FAQ, and a link to the online portal, see the Foundation for a Smoke-free World website.

Link to complete RFP

UNMC Nebraska Neuroscience Alliance COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants

Deadline: Monday, May 18th (5 P.M. CST)
Funding Decisions: To be announced by Thursday, May 21st

Submission: Submit completed application to Doug Meigs ( Direct questions to Dr. Howard Gendelman (, Chairman, UNMC Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience.

Purpose: To immediately support groundbreaking, impactful research on the relationship between severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the central nervous system (CNS). Funding is available for UNMC interdisciplinary research teams working in basic science, epidemiology, natural history, and translational research to study neurological disease complications for individuals with the COVID-19 respiratory disease. CNS complications linked to laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection is often life threatening. Understanding neurological considerations for COVID-19 patients will improve differential diagnosis and best optimal clinical outcomes while facilitating prompt testing, isolation, and prevention of viral transmission.

Award Amounts/Budget: $80,000 is available from the Nebraska Neuroscience Alliance (NNA), endowed by the University of Nebraska Foundation. Funding must be commensurate with the work proposed. Leveraging other available funds, if possible, is encouraged; start-up, department, center and other such funds may be added/used. In order to share the available funds across multiple pilot studies, we ask investigators to request the smallest amount a study requires. We anticipate funding two pilot studies from the available $80,000 funding.

Eligibility: The Principal Investigator must be a full-time faculty member with primary academic appointment at UNMC. Team building is encouraged to assure necessary expertise.

Grant Duration: Up to 12 months (no extensions).

Eligible Expenses:

Requirements for Applications:

Funds are available for technical support, not Principal Investigator salary. Funds may support salary for research staff including trainees (but not faculty), University-based core and other support services, and supplies. Biostatistical analysis can be obtained through the College of Medicine’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CCORDA ( and does not need to be budgeted.

Requirements for Applications:

This is an expedited application process. Please prepare a document (PDF or Word) as follows: minimum of 11-point font such as Arial, Helvetica, Times, or similar, with minimum 0.75” margins on all sides:

Pages 1 and 2: A two-page document including one or two Specific Aims (no more than two), Significance to COVID-19, any relevant Preliminary Data, and Research Plan. Any relevant figures

with legends can be placed on the optional Pages 4-5 below, in large enough format to enable viewing and reading (see below).

Page 3: A budget with justification, and statement on the qualifications of research team, emphasizing ability to carry out the proposed work. Indicate the source of other funds to be used if applicable.

Pages 4-5 (optional): Compliance, References, and Tables/Figures: The work must follow all institutional policies concerning human and/or animal subjects and safety. State if IRB, IACUC, or IBC is required with an explanation of prior approval or communication with the regulatory body on the timeline for approval. Indicate whether the work requires special facilities or equipment (e.g. BSL-2 or BSL-3 labs, Class II Biological Safety Cabinets) and if you have access to those facilities. Guidance can be found on the CDC website ( and/or by contacting UNMC IBC ( Proper compliance and time to initiate project is a criterion for review in this rapid response mechanism. Pages 4-5 may also include optional References and any relevant figures/tables. Please do not shrink display items or text to a small size, two items maximum.

Review Process: All complete applications will be submitted to three independent reviewers with two days to determine award recipients. Nebraska Neuroscience Alliance funds will be dispersed through the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience.

Selection Criteria will include:

  • High impact outcome – scientifically, clinically, and/or locally
  • Clear links to neurological disease and syndromes
  • Likelihood of leading to long-term research program with extramural support
  • Uniqueness – lack of others known to be applying this approach, or if so, unique skills so project can be done better/quicker
  • Feasibility and ability of the Principal Investigator and team to carry out the work

Pioneering Ideas: Exploring the Future to Build a Culture of Health

Deadline: Open
Link to RFA


Pioneering Ideas: Exploring the Future to Build a Culture of Health seeks proposals that are primed to influence health equity in the future. We are interested in ideas that address any of these four areas of focus: Future of Evidence; Future of Social Interaction; Future of Food; Future of Work. Additionally, we welcome ideas that might fall outside of these four focus areas, but which offer unique approaches to advancing health equity and our progress toward a Culture of Health.

We want to hear from scientists, anthropologists, artists, urban planners, community leaders—anyone, anywhere who has a new or unconventional idea that could alter the trajectory of health, and improve health equity and well-being for generations to come. The changes we seek require diverse perspectives and cannot be accomplished by any one person, organization or sector. 

Please note: While this call for proposals is focused on broader and longer-term societal trends and shifts that were evolving prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, we recognize the unique circumstances and learning created by the COVID-19 pandemic may inform your response. It is at your discretion whether you propose a project related to the pandemic directly or indirectly.

Total Awards

The average Pioneer grant in 2019 was $315,031. However, there is not an explicit range for budget requests. Grant periods are flexible, though generally range from 1 to 3 years.

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