Skip to content

Mathers Foundation Grant Program

General Information

Program Description

For many years the Foundation has enjoyed special recognition in the research community in supporting “basic” scientific research, realizing that true transformative breakthroughs usually occur after a thorough understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying natural phenomena. More recently, and with the advent of newer investigative methodologies, technology, and tools, the Foundation now embraces innovative translational research proposals. Immunology, microbiome, genomics, structural biology, cellular physiology, neuroscience, etc., are some noteworthy examples of current research support.


Schools may submit four (4) applications for Penn’s internal competition.


  • Open to faculty at all levels.
  • Open to faculty involved in life science research in areas such as (but not limited to): Immunology, microbiome, genomics, structural biology, cellular physiology, and neuroscience. It is important to note that any interdisciplinary project proposals may require additional information regarding collaborator(s)’ achievements and relevant expertise.
  • For any sponsored research projects, the applicant must be eligible to serve as Principal Investigator for the project, unless otherwise noted in the LSO. Please see Penn’s PI Eligibility requirements to ensure you are eligible.

The Foundation does not support:

  • Covid-19 related research projects (aims or sub-aims).  
  • Medical imaging technology related projects and/or electrical engineering technology development projects.  
  • Plant Biology Research, Oceanography, Space Exploration and Global Warming related research.  
  • Requests for support of clinical trials or drug discovery will not be approved. The Foundation will not support projects which they consider pre-clinical drug development.

Award Information

  • Grant duration must be three years. 
  • Grant budgets cannot exceed $600-750K (including indirect costs capped at 10%) over three years.  
  • Preliminary Budgets are required during the LOI phase and should include an estimate of the major costs for compensation, supplies, etc. 
  • Budget justification in Formal Proposals (if invited) should provide detailed costs of the investigator’s salaries, including all personnel involved, laboratory supplies, miscellaneous costs, etc., and will be highly scrutinized: 
  • The Foundation’s grant award is not intended to be utilized for purchasing capital equipment (“bricks and mortar”) for the lab and is intended only to support the actual investigation.  
  • Tuition expenses (remission) may not be covered for personnel (graduate students involved in the project) if considered excessive. 
  • Expenses for core services (e.g. Cryo-EM, sequencing) may not be approved if considered excessive. 
  • Expenses for computers, computer-generated systems/and AI data generation cannot be expensed. 

Review Process

Selection Criteria

Letters of Intent (LOI) are required and due by the OVPR deadline for each spring and fall cycle. Nominees will be selected from an internal competition managed by the OVPR. If you are invited to submit a proposal, you will be notified via email to log into the portal and complete your application in June or December.

OVPR Internal Review Process

Applications must contain the following:

  1. Cover Page which includes: 
    • Project title
    • Candidate name, department, address, phone, email
    • Date of faculty appointment to the University, including Month and Year 
  2. A Letter of Intent that must include the following (maximum 2 pages):
    • A preliminary set of aims.
    • A discussion of previous or related work,
    • A preliminary budget estimate should include an estimate of the major costs for compensation, supplies, etc.
  3. A CV (maximum 4 pages).
  4. All materials must be submitted in a single PDF document in the above order to
  5. Subject line of the email should be, Mathers_applicant LAST name_applicant FIRST name.