About the HITS Fund

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The Huck Institutes seeks to support truly innovative and transformational research within the life sciences arena at Penn State. Through this program, we hope to foster projects that are bold, have high impact, and would transform our understanding or provide a solution to a pressing issue. We expect high risk, but if the project works, a very high return.

We don’t require preliminary data or evidence of previous collaboration, and we definitely do not want to see proposals that are transitional, incremental, built on current research programs, or seek to bridge potential funding shortfalls in existing programs.

We are looking for ideas too innovative or risky to attract conventional NIH, NSF or USDA funding now, but with the expectation that conventional grant agencies would scramble to catch up if your idea pans out. High impact entrepreneurial projects too rudimentary to attract industry or venture support also welcomed.

There is no upper limit to what you may request in funding but requested funds should be justified to be cost-efficient and commensurate with potential for high impact or return. You may also request two-stage funding, with pilot funding followed by proof of concept.

Proposals can be in any area of life sciences — including genomics, infectious disease, plant sciences, neuroscience, metabolomics, food and health, and biomedical research — or at the intersection of life sciences and other strengths at the University, notably materials science, computational and data science, social science, and environmental science.

A panel of reviewers co-Chaired by Steve Benkovic and Andrew Read will rank the most exciting ideas and decide what level of funding would be appropriate with what milestones. Successful projects may be funded in full or in part, and project modifications may be requested based on review, oral presentations and feedback.  

The original call for HITS proposals ran in 2012; outcomes can be seen here. Currently funded projects initiated in 2020 can be reviewed here.

Subject to funding availability, this is an open-ended call with decisions made twice per year. We are currently considering applications received by May 1 and hope to run another call in Fall 2021. Applications should be submitted to InfoReady

Pre-submission inquires are welcome and should be directed to Huck director Andrew Read's office:

Andrew Read

Director, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences; Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology; Eberly Professor of Biotechnology