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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Keck Foundation Medical Research Program 2020

To:Chairs and Administrators; Associate Deans for Research; Departments in the Biological Sciences; College/School Research Administrators
From:Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Education
Date:August 08, 2019
Subject:Keck Foundation Medical Research Program


Deadline for Proposal to your College/School Associate Dean for Research:September 15, 2019

Project Description

The Keck Foundation strives to fund endeavors that are distinctive and novel in their approach. It encourages projects that are high-risk with the potential for transformative impact. “High-risk” comprises a number of factors, including questions that push the edge of the field, present unconventional approaches to intractable problems, or challenge the prevailing paradigm. “Transformative” may mean creation of a new field of research, development of new instrumentation enabling observations not previously possible, or discovery of knowledge that challenges prevailing perspectives. Applicants may find it helpful to look over the abstracts of recent grants to understand funding priorities. Grant abstracts may be found on Keck Foundation website within the particular program of interest.

Amount per Award: Historically, grants range from $500,000 to $5 million, and are typically $2 million or less.
Duration of Award: Up to 5 Years
Number of Awards:  The number of grants made varies each year.


Funding is awarded to universities and institutions nationwide for projects in research that:

  • Focus on important and emerging areas of research
  • Have the potential to develop breakthrough technologies, instrumentation or methodologies
  • Are innovative, distinctive and interdisciplinary
  • Demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm
  • Have the potential for transformative impact, such as the founding of a new field of research, the enabling of observations not previously possible, or the altered perception of a previously intractable problem
  • Does not focus on clinical or translational research, treatment trials or research for the sole purpose of drug development
  • Fall outside the mission of public funding agencies
  • Demonstrate that private philanthropy generally, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in particular, is essential to the project’s success

The number of proposals UW-Madison may submit to the Medical Research Program is limited to one.

NOTE: Keck Foundation proposals require a substantial amount of institutional commitment (approximately 20-25% of the grant amount in non-sponsored flexible funds) from UW-Madison. For this reason, you must first route your proposal to your Associate Dean for Research.


Internal Competition Application Instructions

Applications for Internal Review

Please email your application to your School/College Associate Dean for Research by September 15, 2019.  Your application should include the following information:

  • Cover Page with PI Signature: Keck Cover Page
  • 1-2 page description of the proposed project.
  • 2-3 sentences on your plans for meeting the institutional commitment.

Your School/College Associate Dean for Research will complete the review process and submit one or two proposals to the OVCRGE via email to by September 30, 2019.

Proposals to the Keck Foundation are submitted through the UW Foundation. The PI of the selected proposal will work with the UW Foundation on submission.

Sponsor Deadlines

Concept Papers are due to Keck Foundation by December 30, 2019. Applications are due to Keck Foundation by May 01, 2020.