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COVID-19 Response: Drug and Vaccine Prototyping, Fall 2020

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Stanford University’s Innovative Medicines Accelerator (IMA) aims to accelerate the prototyping of innovative medicines, and to enable hypothesis-driven studies on human subjects. The purpose of this request for proposals (RFP) is to continue leveraging emerging capacity and infrastructure at Stanford to address the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Through this request for proposals, the IMA seeks to support translational research projects that will develop scalable drug screening assays, validate novel drug targets, or engineer new reagents that serve as drug or vaccine prototypes for COVID-19. Competitive projects will have a strong therapeutic or prophylactic hypothesis. Projects at all stages (lead discovery, lead optimization) and modalities (small molecule, large molecule) will be considered provided that the project is driven by developing a therapy or prophylaxis for COVID-19. Of particular interest are COVID-19 projects that:

  • Have made substantial progress through support from an earlier IMA RFP (May 2020);
  • Seek to utilize Stanford’s newly launched BSL3 laboratory; or
  • Seek to synthesize and evaluate a vaccine or adjuvant prototype designed to test a hypothesis that is not yet being evaluated in clinical trials

Basic research and pre-target identification/pre-assay development research are excluded from the current RFP.

Support Provided: Successful first-time applicants will receive $50K-$100K (total direct) for 6-12 months with the possibility to apply for follow-up funding, contingent upon progress and scientific needs to address the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Successful applications for follow-on funding will be eligible for a combination of financial and in-kind support, as dictated by the needs of the project. Projects may be fully or partially funded.

Deadline: All application materials must be received by 5pm on Monday, November 2, 2020.

Eligibility: All Stanford faculty with PI eligibility are welcome to apply.

Application Instructions: Submit one PDF file containing the following materials in the order indicated below. All documents should be single-spaced, Arial 11-point font with 0.5-inch margins.

  1. Title page (1 page)
    •  “COVID-19 Response: Request for Proposals for Drug and Vaccine Prototyping - November 2020 – [Insert either “First-Time Funding” or “Follow-On Funding”, as appropriate]”
    • Project title
    • Investigator(s): Name, department, address, phone number, email address 
    • Application summary (150 words) – Please provide a high-level description of the project that highlights the biological process/molecule(s) that will be targeted. Describe how it will impact clinical practice and patient outcomes for COVID-19 if successful. Emphasize what is novel about the approach.
  2. Proposal (2 pages maximum)
    • Therapeutic or Prophylactic hypothesis – Describe the therapeutic or prophylactic hypothesis and its supporting evidence. Provide preliminary data, if available.
    • Technical summary – Briefly describe the proposed research, such as the assay(s) to be developed, or drug or vaccine prototype to be engineered.
    • Research goals should be achievable within 6-24 months.
  3. References
  4. Budget with justification (PI salary support is not provided). Projects intending to leverage the BSL3 facility should incorporate appropriate rates, including training, materials, and usage fees as outlined here. We recommend you contact the BSL3 Director for input, First-time applicants should submit a budget of $50-100k for a 6- to 12-month work plan. Follow-on funding applicants should submit a detailed budget mapped to deliverables for a 12- to 24-month work plan.
  5. NIH-format biosketch for each investigator

Applications should be submitted directly to the ChEM-H SlideRoom portal. You do not need to submit your applications to your Research Process Manager (RPM) in RMG or through your Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) Contract and Grant officer (CGO) for their approval at this time.

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Selection Process & Timeline: Proposals will be reviewed by a faculty panel knowledgeable in translational research and evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Strength of the evidence for the drug or vaccine hypothesis for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19
  • Novelty of the therapeutic or vaccine hypothesis
  • Availability of needed materials and access to required facilities
  • Achievable goals within 6-24 months

Finalists will be selected by December 11, 2020 for immediate launch of research projects.


For questions about the funding opportunity, please contact: Elizabeth Ponder, Ph.D., Director of Planning and Operations, Innovative Medicines Accelerator,

For questions about IMA, please contact: Chaitan Khosla, Ph.D., IMA Faculty Lead, Professor, Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering,