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Find the best funding source for your research
By Daniel (Randy) McMillan, Ph.D.
Grant & Proposal Writer
Assist. Prof. (Adjunct)
One of the most important steps in your search for research funding is to find the correct funding agency – a well-conceived, novel, and well-written grant will not be funded if the topic is not in line with the funder’s interest. While the bulk of research funding is from federal sources, nonprofit foundations are an important, if often overlooked, source of research funds. A few noteworthy examples of foundations that fund biomedical research – with links to their grant programs – include: the American Heart Association, Gerber Foundation, March of Dimes, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Unfortunately, it’s a near impossible task to comprehensively search the more than 86,000 grant-making foundations (as of 2014) to find those potentially interested in funding your research.
One starting point is Fundsnet Services, which provides an extensive fundraising and grants directory that is freely searchable for visitors. Additionally, the Foundation Center provides a free, limited-service option that publishes requests for proposals and award notices for grant-making organizations and nonprofits in its Philanthropy News Digest. Of course, there are commercial organizations that gather information and maintain databases of grant making foundations, but most provide search data only on a fee-for-service basis – without personal experience, the actual value of these services remain obscure.
Information on all federal grant making agencies can be found here, but the largest and the foremost source of biomedical research funds is the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). The major operating divisions in HHS most relevant to biomedical research include, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ). In addition, the Department of Defense (DoD) provides a significant source of particularly relevant funding through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (>$1B in 2017). Current funding opportunities offered by all federal sources can be comprehensively searched at Grants.gov.