The Dean’s Fund for Scientific Advancement: Incubation Award

The Dean’s Fund for Scientific Advancement expands the School’s internal research funding program and is designed to create a pipeline of support that facilitates the exploration of early ideas, the development of strong interdisciplinary team science, and the creation of new transformative research collaborations that advance the frontiers of science.

Incubation Awards represent a critical component of the funding program and are intended to support innovative ideas of particular promise.

Incubation Award

Deadline Extended: March 16, 2020 at 12:00 PM

The Incubation Award offers $50,000 awards (direct cost) for projects that are designed to be completed in a 12-month* project period and support innovative ideas of particular promise in addressing key public health challenges.

Please read and review the full RFA prior to application submission. Proposals should be submitted through the Harvard University Funding Portal (HUFP), which will be available in early 2020.

Award Details

The goal of the Incubation Award is to support strategic investments that foster rapid innovation and advance our shared vision for a stronger, more dynamic, and more globally engaged school. The award will establish a centralized seed funding infrastructure through which a suite of philanthropic innovation funds may be administered. Although we expect the suite of funds to expand in the future, this year, Incubation Awards will be funded solely through the McLennan Family Fund.

McLennan Family Fund

Key priorities representing pressing global health challenges will be identified annually as the focus of the McLennan Incubation Awards. Proposals will be accepted from across disciplines and may relate to a broad range of research topics. Although applications in the selected priority areas will be given special consideration, any faculty member who has a novel approach or innovative idea that is in need of seed funding is welcome to apply. This year, the three focal areas are:

(1) Anti-Microbial Resistance
Anti-microbial resistance is one of the most pressing public health challenges of our time and effects millions each year around the globe. Exploration of basic (biological and/or genomic), epidemiological (surveillance and modeling), economic, behavioral and other drivers of anti-microbial resistance is greatly needed along with approaches to prioritize microbial targets and design solutions, ranging from new drugs, diagnostics, vaccines, economic incentives, behavior change approaches, and policy solutions.

(2) AI/Machine Learning and Causal Inference
Bringing high-dimensional data together with new technologies and methodologies has the potential to revolutionize health promotion and disease prevention and improve the efficiency by which health services are distributed, especially to underserved or at-risk populations. Continued research and innovation are required to advance sound, scalable, and robust methods for the use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and causal inference in public health. Examples include ML/AI approaches with the potential to advance individualized treatment or diagnostic tools, methods to identify populations that face elevated health risks and to match those with appropriate interventions, and, more broadly, the application of new approaches in causal inference, AI, ML to improve public health outcomes.

(3) Health Care Quality and Safety
To effectively deliver high quality care to all patients in all settings, strengthening our health systems is imperative. In the U.S. and around the world, research is needed to evaluate current systems, develop effective policies and strengthen health care delivery. Particular attention is needed on the provision of care for vulnerable and underserved populations.


Primary Harvard Chan School faculty whose research operation is based at the Harvard Chan School are eligible to apply. Co-investigators or team members may include individuals with any academic appointment.  If you have any questions regarding your eligibility to apply for this award, please contact Heather Conrad at or visit the Dean’s Fund FAQ page.

Submission Process

Proposals are to be submitted through the Harvard University Funding Portal (HUFP). If you are using the application portal for the first time, you must complete a short registration process (see below). Please note, you can search for awards without logging in but you must be registered and logged in with your Harvard Key to submit an application. There is an option to assign a proxy for proposal submission but your grant manager cannot use your Harvard Key to submit your application. Please see below for more information on registering for an account and assigning a proxy.

Registering your HUFP Account: Select “Log-in” in the top right corner of the HUFP webpage, which will bring you to a log-in page with two options. Select the “with Harvard Key” icon, which will prompt you to enter your Harvard Key. You will be led through a short three-question registration process. Once registered, you will be able to log in with your Harvard Key to submit applications.

Assigning a Proxy for Submission: Before beginning an application, both proxy and PI must register for individual accounts in HUFP using their Harvard Key credentials. Once the proxy and the PI are registered, the proxy can begin an application on behalf of the PI. The Proxy will indicate that they are a proxy applicant and will be asked to locate their PI in HUFP. Proxies should never “Add User” in HUFP. Once this is done, both the PI and the proxy will be able to access and edit the application.

Please contact ORSD ( if you have any questions about using HUFP.

Proposal Contents and Page Limits

You must complete all sections within the application portal before submitting your applications. The sections within the application portal are as follows:

    1. Applicant Information
    2. Collaborators
    3. Project Information: In this section, you must complete a 200-word research abstract and upload the following documents as a single PDF:
        • Project Proposal: Maximum of 4 pages of text, not including items listed below. Figures and references are allowable in addition to this page limit. No other appendix material will be accepted.
        • Biosketch: Current NIH Biosketch for each participating investigator
        • Budget Request: Budget estimates should be submitted on NIH PHS 398 detailed budget form with major divisions of funds (personnel, equipment, etc.). PIs may include effort and salary support commensurate with their effort. The full amount of the award may be used for direct costs.
        • Budget Justification

4. Electronic Signature

*An automatic 6-month no-cost extension will be granted if needed, after which no additional extensions will be allowed.