The Dean’s Fund for Scientific Advancement: Acceleration 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.

Acceleration Awards represent a critical component of the funding program and are intended to nurture collaborations in research, develop platforms, and support educational projects.

Acceleration Award
DEADLINE EXTENDED: June 28, 2021 (11:59 PM)

Awards will be made for up to $100,000 (direct cost) for projects that are designed to be completed in a 12-month* project period and cultivate collaborative/transdisciplinary research, develop cross-cutting research platforms, and support pedagogical advancement. This award is open to Harvard Chan School faculty of any rank who have a primary appointment at the Harvard Chan School, but applications will require the substantial engagement of at least two Harvard Chan School Departments or Centers and must include collaboration from at least one other Harvard School.

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 June, 2021.

Award Details

These collaboration-focused grants support the advancement of research, research-enabling platforms, and pedagogical innovation. Grant applications will require the substantial engagement of at least two Harvard Chan School Departments or Centers and must include collaboration from at least one other Harvard School. Up to three awards will be distributed across three focal areas: Research Grants; Research Platforms; and Public Health Pedagogy.

Research Grants ($up to 100K) are aligned with School priorities, which overlap with Incubation Award priorities from last year. The goal of the staggered, overlapping topic is to create a true pipeline structure of internal funding support. Please note, grant applications that align with priority areas below will be given special consideration. However, any faculty member who has a novel approach or innovative idea in need of funding is encouraged to apply. This year, the priority 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.

Research Platforms, (up to $100K) defined broadly, are research resources that can be accessed by multiple faculty to support projects in a variety of disciplines. The goal of these awards is to provide one-time support for the development of research platforms that can be funded in the future by other mechanisms. Examples include support for developing a publicly available database of cancer genes, bio-banking samples accessible to multiple research groups, platforms to increase access to shared datasets or software programs, writing shared code for complex data sets, or pooling expertise on health inequities research to incorporate diversity aspects into grant applications.

Public Health Pedagogy awards are intended to produce scalable innovations that will improve the quality of teaching and learning at the Harvard Chan School. Because pedagogical advancements tend to be structured differently than research awards and because they frequently involve work at either the level of the course or the program, this year we will be piloting two different kinds of smaller awards within the Public Health Pedagogy category:

  1. Development Awards for up to $15K: Development Awards are meant for individual faculty, instructional teams, or collaborations between faculty to develop a new solution for an educational problem toward improving the quality of teaching and learning in a particular course or domain at the School. Applicants should state the teaching and learning problem they intend to solve, the new development they propose in order to address the problem, and how the work involved with the award could be a model for others or be scaled after being developed and piloted.
  2. Enhancement Awards for up to $25K: Enhancement Awards are meant for departments, degree programs, or other educational programs to make a significant enhancement to their current teaching and learning activities, for example engaging in a curriculum review and renewal, creating a new pedagogical training initiative, etc. Applicants should state the impact the project would have, the process and steps they propose to make the enhancement, and how the work involved with the award could be a model for others or be scaled after being developed and piloted.


Principal investigators must be:

    • Primary Harvard Chan School faculty whose research operation is based at the Harvard Chan School. Coinvestigators or team members may include individuals with any academic appointment.

Applications for Research Grants and Research Platforms must include:

    • Coinvestigators from at least two Harvard Chan School Departments or Centers representing interdisciplinary collaboration
    • Collaboration with at least one other Harvard School (see below for more details)

For Public Health Pedagogy awards:

    • Collaboration is encouraged across departments, units, and even schools.
    • Demonstration of such collaborations will enhance an application but is not required.


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 the proxy and the 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.


You must complete all sections within the application portal before submitting your application. 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 b. – e. listed below. Figures and references are allowable in addition to this page limit. No other appendix material will be accepted.
      • Within the project proposal, please describe any key challenges that may arise during the course of this project and how you will manage them.
    • Additional Required Forms by Award Type:
      • All Applications: Interdisciplinary Approach & Coordination Form. Maximum of 1 page of text. Use this Downloadable Form as a template.
      • Research Platform Applications: Sustainability Form. Maximum of 1 page of text. Use this Downloadable Form as a template.
      • Public Health Pedagogy Applications: Scalability Form. Maximum of 1 page of text. Use this Downloadable Form as a template.
    • 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. PLEASE NOTE: Indirect costs, including indirect costs on sub-contracts, cannot be charged to internally funded awards.
    • 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.