Innovator Award Program

Program Objective

ISB was built on the core value of collaboration and a vision for inventing the future for human health and environmental sustainability. Accordingly, we have created the Innovator Award Program to stimulate creativity, innovation and collaboration among our researchers so we can continue to pioneer scientific breakthroughs. This internal program is designed to support innovative research ideas that cut across disciplines and research groups. Through this program, highly motivated researchers from within ISB will have an opportunity to apply for a one-year funding award that will support high-risk, high-reward projects.

(View Program Overview as PDF).

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 four focus areas for 2018-19 are:

Novel experimental systems
Developing a tractable model system to investigate complex phenomena and testing hypotheses/predictions that come out of systems-driven approaches/models. For example: Host-pathogen interaction systems, animal models, etc.

Model-driven discovery of modulators of complex phenotypes. For example: Disease states, stable/unstable ecosystem states, physiological state of microbial communities, drug resistance, drug tolerance, etc.

Model-driven discovery of diagnostic biomarkers. For example: Pre-symptomatic blood/microbiome signatures for diseases, signatures for resilience for systems stability

Tracking spatiotemporal heterogeneity
Imaging, tracking, and sorting complex cell populations to understand heterogeneity in disease and environment


Projects addressing the priority areas to specifically explore Alzheimer’s disease, glioblastoma, infectious diseases, and innovative usage of Arivale data and electronic health records will be given priority in the review process, but reviewers will consider compelling projects outside those areas.

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.

Application and Review Process


Application Submission Guidelines:

The application deadline is March 2, 2018. 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 signoff and approval from Sponsored Projects.
          3. Detailed one-year timeline


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

  • March 2, 2018: Application deadline
  • March 14, 2018: Application review complete
  • March 19, 2018: Awards announced
  • April 2, 2018: Program start
  • July 2, 2018: Q1 progress report due
  • October 1, 2018: Q2 progress report due
  • October 3, 2018: Mid-award presentation
  • January 7, 2109: Q3 progress report due
  • April 1, 2019: Final report due
  • April 3, 2019: Final presentation


If you have any questions, please contact