The Greenwall Foundation is requesting proposals for the Fall 2017 cycle of its bioethics grants program, Making a Difference in Real-World Bioethics Dilemmas, to support research to help resolve an important emerging or unanswered bioethics problem in clinical care, biomedical research, public health practice, or public policy. Our aim is to fund innovative projects that will have a real-world, practical impact. Letters of intent are due July 12, 2017 by 11:59 p.m. ET, for projects to begin on or after January 1, 2018.  

Priority for funding will be given to collaborative projects involving a bioethics scholar and persons with on-the-ground experience in organizations where bioethics dilemmas arise, for example, in clinical care, biomedical research, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, or public service. Collaboration is important to identify specific bioethics problems that clinicians, researchers, policymakers, public health officials, and others face in their daily work, and to develop practical resolutions to them. Reviewers will be looking for evidence of a history of collaborative research and a strong collaborative plan. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to engage with relevant lay or community stakeholders throughout their project (including the planning phase).

While we welcome all innovative proposals that will have a real-world impact, we are particularly interested in proposals that address the following priority topics:

  • Ethical and policy issues related to patient or clinician behavior that belittles or demeans other people during the provision of medical care. For example, patients may demean individual health care workers because of their ethnic or religious background, gender, or sexual orientation. Or health care workers may speak about patients or family members in similarly demeaning ways. Projects might address how to implement expectations regarding such behaviors or gather empirical data on the extent and impact of such behaviors. Collaborations addressing this priority topic might involve a bioethics scholar and, for example, a physician or nurse, or the leader of a health care organization.

  • Ethical and policy issues surrounding community-based responses to the opioid epidemic, including the role of faith-based groups in decreasing opioid abuse and responding to its consequences. Collaborations addressing this priority topic might involve a bioethics scholar and, for example, a clergy member who provides pastoral care to affected individuals and families, a leader of a community substance abuse program, or representatives of families affected by substance abuse.

  • Ethical and policy issues related to advances in biomedical research and the translation of innovative research into clinical practice, including:

    • Clinical trials of somatic cell human gene editing in serious diseases for which good treatments currently do not exist. Collaborations addressing this topic might involve a bioethics scholar and, for example, a scientist developing a specific clinical trial using human gene editing.

    • The increasing use of big data, precision medicine, and mobile health applications in clinical care and research. Collaborations addressing this topic might involve a bioethics scholar and, for example, a computer scientist developing mobile applications or working in big data analytics.

  • Ethical and policy issues related to healthcare access, costs, and resource allocation. Because healthcare access and affordability continue to be unresolved problems in the United States, the Foundation welcomes proposals that develop and implement innovative, practical approaches to these issues. Collaborations addressing this priority topic might involve a bioethics scholar and, for example, a leader in an organization with responsibility for providing or paying for care.

  • Ethical and policy issues related to operating within existing legal and regulatory frameworks, including those concerning public health; regulation of drugs, devices, biologics, tobacco, and food; privacy protections; and human subjects research. We are particularly interested in projects exploring novel and creative ways to operate within existing frameworks to achieve desirable ethical outcomes. We are also interested in projects that explore unaddressed ethical issues in the interpretation or implementation of laws and regulations. Collaborations addressing this priority topic might involve a bioethics scholar and, for example, a government agency official or leader in an organization operating within the relevant legal framework.

Proposals for projects that address real-world, practical bioethics problems in other topic areas are also welcome.

Projects may be empirical, conceptual, or normative. While all proposals should explain how they will help address a real-world bioethics dilemma, this is especially the case for conceptual proposals. Projects that analyze the normative implications of already-completed empirical research are of particular interest. The Foundation will support mentored projects in which a postdoctoral fellow or junior faculty member works with an experienced bioethics scholar, provided that the mentor is closely involved in all phases of the project. The Foundation will also consider pilot or feasibility projects to evaluate an innovative intervention to resolve a bioethics dilemma, with the goal of obtaining funding from other sources for a larger evaluation or demonstration project. Some highly promising projects may be funded for an initial phase, with additional funding contingent on achieving clear milestones.   

We expect grantees to disseminate their research through practical articles in peer-reviewed journals that reach the appropriate audience for the topic studied, through presentations in relevant professional meetings, and in other ways that will increase real-world impact. Applicants should describe, for example, how they will disseminate their results beyond academic audiences, such as to lay and community groups or to leaders of institutions who could implement the project’s recommendations or act upon empirical findings (e.g., leaders of clinical services, research programs, institutional review boards, or medical education). Successful applicants will be expected to present their research to peers and senior bioethics scholars at a meeting convened by The Greenwall Foundation. 

In evaluating proposals, the Foundation will consider:

  • The real-world importance of the bioethics problem to be studied and the likelihood the project will have a constructive real-world impact. Importantly, projects that aim to impact public policy should not constitute advocacy projects with predetermined conclusions, but, rather, remain policy-oriented bioethics research with carefully targeted research questions and dissemination plans.

  • The innovative nature of the project’s approach and how it goes beyond previous work on the issue.

  • The appropriateness and rigor of the methods, analysis plan, strategy, and approach.

  • The appropriateness and inclusiveness of the project’s planned approach to dissemination and implementation, including how stakeholder audiences beyond academia will be targeted and include key individuals who can change practice or policy.

  • The professional background of the proposed investigators, and their close, practical familiarity with the bioethics problems to be addressed.  

  • The previous success of the proposed investigators in carrying out similar projects. Young investigators who have not previously published results from a bioethics project are advised to apply with a mentor that is actively involved in all phases of the project.

  • The success of the investigators in publishing practical bioethics articles, similar to what is proposed, in top-tier journals with a broad audience, and in otherwise disseminating the results of their research to relevant stakeholders.

  • The value added by interdisciplinary collaboration, as discussed above.

  • The reasonableness of the budget, including the amount and duration of funding requested. All things being equal, projects with smaller budgets will receive priority.

The Greenwall Foundation will fund 10% indirect costs to the grantee institution for salary and benefits only. Salaries for investigators are capped at 1.5x the current NIH cap for the basis of the percent effort allocation and fringe rates will be capped at 35%.

Projects with the following characteristics will not be funded under this program: 

  • Projects that implement or make incremental improvements in established approaches to bioethics problems, build institutional infrastructure, or provide bioethics education, training, or coursework.

  • Projects that simply describe or analyze bioethics issues or provide a conceptual framework, without making practical recommendations for resolving the issues. However, projects that present normative recommendations that are based on previous empirical research are encouraged.

  • Projects that have predetermined conclusions or advocate for predetermined positions.

  • Projects whose main goal is to convene or enhance a meeting, unless there is a well-developed plan to produce a peer-reviewed publication with consensus recommendations, guidelines, or best practices with a strong likelihood of real-world implementation.

  • Projects to support or extend ongoing or core activities of an organization.

  • Projects with a principal investigator who does not have one of the following graduate degrees: PhD, JD, MD, or an equivalent doctoral-level degree.

  • Applications from unaffiliated individuals, or from institutions that do not have tax-exempt status in the United States.

Working with The Greenwall Foundation is a collaborative process. Our goal is to work with applicants to develop strong proposals that are positioned to have the greatest impact in real-world, practical settings. After reviewing letters of intent, reviewers typically provide specific feedback and suggestions for consideration along with invitations to submit full proposals. Through this feedback, the Foundation seeks to assist applicants in presenting the best possible proposals and to ensure that their research interests align with the Foundation’s funding priorities. After review of full proposals, the Foundation may request additional clarifications, for example, about the adequacy of human subjects protections or the project’s budget.

In addition to grants awarded in response to this RFP, The Greenwall Foundation may directly initiate some grants.

For instructions on how to apply, please follow this link. Please e-mail inquiries about this program to rboxt@greenwall.org.