Innovator Award Program

Program Objective

The Innovator Award Program was created in 2017 to catalyze collaborative research for innovation and discovery within ISB. This internal program is designed to support novel research ideas that cut across disciplines and research groups. Through this program, highly motivated researchers within ISB will have an opportunity to apply for a one-year funding award that will support high-risk, high-reward projects.

Program Details and Focus Areas

  • Projects must support interactions between research groups within ISB.
  • The funding duration for this award is one year.
  • A total of $150,000 is available to fund up to three innovative projects that have the potential to be transformational in addressing critical scientific challenges or impediments.
  • Projects that address challenges in the focus areas below will be given priority.


The three focus areas for 2019-20 are:

Multiscale interactions
Develop and integrate novel emerging technologies and algorithms to generate and mine multi-omic data (RNA seq, metagenomics, single cell, etc.) to delineate interactions across disparate cell types (including host-host, host-pathogen, host-commensal, microbe-microbe, etc.) for multiscale characterizations of biological phenomena.


Quantitative definition of uniqueness and states
Develop and generate tools to mine multi-omic data (from genomic, to epigenetic and proteomic) to study interindividual heterogeneity, cell-to-cell heterogeneity, etc. Develop and integrate novel technologies and algorithms for making diverse & new types of multi-omic measurements (cellular interactions, metabolites, etc.) with greater precision, higher spatiotemporal resolution, higher throughput, in real time, and from diverse sample types including liquid biopsies, wearables, etc.


Concept to classroom
How do we drive innovation to improve effectiveness of translating leading edge scientific concepts and practices (from ISB or elsewhere) to a classroom? How do we ensure that our efforts are effective by developing new measurement and analytic techniques for monitoring learning?


Eligible Applicants

Any individual currently employed by ISB with the skills, knowledge and resources to carry out the proposed work is invited to submit an application – limit one – for consideration. Applicants applying for the “concept to classroom” focus area must partner with the ISB Education team (Logan Center or Systems Education Experiences).

Application and Review Process


Application Submission Guidelines:

The application deadline is March 1, 2019. The application package includes:

          1. A two-page research plan (download here) that contains:
            • Overview
            • Significance
            • Innovation
            • Research Strategy
            • Anticipated Outcomes/Deliverables
          2. Detailed budget: Please work with Sponsored Projects to develop a budget using this template (provide direct costs only; no more than 10 percent effort for each employee). Proposal cannot be submitted without getting sign-off and approval from Sponsored Projects.
          3. Detailed one-year timeline

If you intend to submit an application, you should send an email to Ujwal Sheth and your respective grants and contracts manager letting them know (the email is not binding and will only be used for planning purposes).

Application Review:

A faculty committee will evaluate research proposals in a NIH-style review.

Review Criteria

          1. Significance:
            • Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?
            • How will successful completion of the project be transformational (i.e., change concepts, methods, and/or technologies?)
            • Does the project cut across research groups at ISB?
            • Does the proposed work take advantage of technologies and instrumentation available at ISB?
            • Could the proposed work lead to future funding?
          2. Innovation:
            • Will the proposed work lead to transformational or incremental advancements?
            • Is the proposed work high-risk/high-reward?
            • Examples:
              • Challenges current research paradigms
              • Generates novel theoretical concepts, insights, or technologies
          3. Approach:
            • Is the overall strategy, methodology, and analysis appropriate to accomplish the project?
            • Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented?
            • Does the budget align with the scope of the project?


Key Dates

  • January 18, 2019: Focus areas announced and application is open
  • January 23, 2019: Innovator Award Q&A (Research in Progress)
  • February 8, 2019: Last day to send notification of intent
  • February 26, 2019: Deadline to complete the administrative components
  • March 1, 2019: Application deadline
  • March 20, 2019: Application review complete
  • March 22, 2019: Awardees announced
  • March 29, 2019: Human Subjects Determination Form must be completed
  • April 1, 2019: Program start
  • July 1 2019, Q1 progress report due
  • October 7, 2019, Q2 progress report due
  • October 9, 2019, Mid Award Presentation
  • January 6, 2020, Q3 progress report due
  • May 1, 2020, Q4 progress report due
  • Date TBD, Final presentation


If you have any questions, please contact