February 13, 2009

New site helps researchers locate non-federal funds

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Julie Koh, Ph.D.

New site helps researchers locate non-federal funds

Thanks to “FIND Grants,” a new Web site that helps Vanderbilt Medical Center faculty, clinicians and scientists find sources of non-federal funding, the days of inefficient Google searches are over.

FIND Grants, short for Foundation INitiatives Database, allows researchers to hone search criteria by factors such as experience level, citizenship, award amount and deadline to find the funding opportunities for which they are best suited.

“Researchers are well educated on how to get a National Institutes of Health grant, but most may not know that this non-federal funding is out there,” said Julie Koh, Ph.D., director of Development for Biomedical Research, the program that produced the database. “This is an avenue to drive information to researchers who wish to apply to foundations that fund biomedical research with strong grant structures.”

Koh said it is important that researchers apply for grants in the private sector because foundations can support research in ways the government can't.

“The focus of these organizations is funding transformative research that will impact knowledge and treatment of human diseases. They are more likely to fund high-risk projects that, if they pay off, will lead to a scientific leap. Often, they're funding initial work necessary to get to that NIH grant,” she said.

FIND Grants was launched in October after the Development for Biomedical Research program realized there was no comprehensive place for a researcher to find information on private sector grants. Rather, they often resorted to those inefficient Google searches.

The growing database currently has nearly 600 grants from 130 foundations, which offer a total of more than $70 million in funding. Opportunities include clinical research awards from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and a new investigator grant from the Scleroderma Foundation.

“We want to make this as definitive a Web site as possible,” Koh said. “The intent is to collect information, simplify site navigation and provide accurate data. The last thing we want is for a researcher to spend time writing a grant that won't be funded because eligibility requirements have changed.”

The staff of three that maintains the Web site is constantly updating the listings and exploring new funding opportunities.

Since its launch, visitors to FIND Grants have been steadily rising, but Koh hopes to see more.

“We want people to use the site in their daily work lives because it is constantly updated. New foundations and grants are always added, information is updated and grants with expired deadlines are reevaluated,” she said.

The site was developed exclusively for VMC researchers, and requires log in with a VUNet ID and password. Visit www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/findgrants to access the database.