Research proposals sought for Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery

May 1, 2006 By Dennis Chaptman

A grant program aimed at stimulating collaborative research projects to be included in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery has begun with an open invitation to University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers to submit initial proposals by June 1.

The Discovery Program Seed Grant Initiative will provide a total of $3 million in private funding to help jump-start research projects, enabling collaborative research to begin well before the institutes’ doors open in late 2009.

“It is critical that these projects begin soon so that research is well underway when we are ready to move into this world-class facility,” says Martin Cadwallader, dean of the Graduate School. “We must start building the innovative partnerships that will carry our research agenda.”

The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, which will be located in the 1300 block of University Avenue, represents a dynamic public-private partnership. It was made possible by a $50 million gift from alumni John and Tashia Morgridge, a $50 million contribution from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and $50 million from state government.

Two institutes – one private and one public – will bring together scientists from a broad spectrum of disciplines to attack the problems of disease, advance regenerative medicine and solve other important problems.

Officials are encouraging proposals that could be best performed by faculty from different disciplines, and they say that research proposals that team UW–Madison researchers with those from other UW System campuses, private and technical colleges as well as researchers in industry are encouraged.

Creating a foundation for fundamental understanding and transformation of biological and biomedical research as informed by physical sciences, arts and humanities, social sciences and biological sciences is a key objective of the seed grant initiative.

Carl Gulbrandsen, WARF’s managing director, says the grants will promote the interdisciplinary work that will be a trademark of the institutes.

“We want to harness research creativity and use it to make life-altering discoveries, develop new inventions and strengthen Wisconsin’s economy,” Gulbrandsen says.

A selection committee will review the letters of intent and request full proposals from selected teams by Oct. 1. The panel will consider proposals of up to $200,000 a year for two years, or the same total of $400,000 over three years.

Letters of intent may be directed to Sandra Brekke at slb@warf.org as Word or PDF documents. For additional information about the seed-grant initiative, contact Michael Falk at (608) 265-4527.

In addition, two information sessions for the campus community have been scheduled to answer questions about the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. They will be held Tuesday, May 9, from 4-5 p.m. in Room 1610 Engineering Hall, and Wednesday, May 17 from 4-5 p.m. in the Fluno Center auditorium. Online registration is available.