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University Research Foundation: Research Grant

General Information

Program Description

The University Research Foundation (URF) is an internal funding program that supports the research mission of the university.  While the details of structure and funding have evolved over its 37-year existence, the goals have remained the same: to support faculty as they start their careers; to help established faculty pivot into new research directions; to compete for external funding; and, to facilitate collaborations across disciplines


Schools may submit an unlimited number of applications for Penn’s internal competition.


  • Biomed: Research Grant eligibility is limited to Penn assistant and early-stage associate professors (first 3 years) who have not previously received a URF research grant. Full professors may apply for Conference grants.
  • Natural Sciences & Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences: All Penn assistant, associate, and full professors are eligible to apply to both programs.
  • Instructors, Research Associates and Lecturers must provide a letter from their Department Chair establishing that the applicant will receive an appointment as an Assistant Professor by the time of the award. (The letter must be included with the application materials as part of the appendix.)
  • Applicants who have received funding in the past three cycles will be less competitive.
  • Adjunct and Emeritus Faculty are not eligible to apply.
  • Only one application per PI per cycle.
  • CHOP-based faculty are eligible to apply. However, awards must be expended on Penn facilities, equipment and/or associated University technical staff, postdocs and undergraduate students.
  • 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.  

Award Information

A research award of up to $75,000 for 1 year.


Review Process

Selection Criteria

  • Scholarly merit, creativity, impact, and innovation
  • Feasibility
  • Significance of the research
  • Prospects for future extramural funding
  • Matching support from other sources
  • Career development at early stages of career
  • Advancement of school or institutional objectives, such as interdisciplinary research
  • Overall impact to investigator’s research program
  • Undergraduate participation: As part of the University’s commitment to providing research opportunities to scholars across our campus community, URF applicants are encouraged to include undergraduate student participants within the framework of their proposals. URF Review Panels will take undergraduate participation under strong consideration when evaluating and scoring proposals. Should applicants require assistance in identifying interested and qualified undergraduates, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) will be glad to provide support:

OVPR Internal Review Process

The University has been invited to nominate 1 Postdoctoral Fellow. A committee, established by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR), will determine the final nominees to represent the University.

Applications must include the following:

  1. Cover Page which includes:
    • Proposal Title
    • Candidate’s name, academic rank, department, email address, phone number and campus address.    
  2. Abstract (200-word limit): Complete online. Write in simple (non-technical) language a description of the proposed work that is suitable for a lay audience. State the objectives. The description should explain the compelling reason for the proposal. Do not include your PI name or proposal title.
  3. Letters of Recommendation (maximum 1 page): Three Letters of Recommendation assessing the scientific abilities and potential of the applicant are required and must be uploaded to the application at the time of submission.
  4. Research Proposal (maximum 3 pages):
    • Include your name, your department, and the proposal title on the first page.
    • Include background, hypothesis/purpose, methods used, work to be undertaken, and outlook for future (continued research and external funding). 
    • Applications to the biomed panel are expected to include an appropriate description of the statistical analysis and power calculations which support the proposed studies. Please be mindful of the interdisciplinary backgrounds of the reviewers and make the proposals accessible to these readers.
    • References are not included in the page limit and should be included in this section. 
  5. A Biosketch (Using NIH format, if relevant) (maximum 3 pages). Additional key personnel biosketches can be uploaded as appendices, but are not required.  Biomed Biosketches must use the new NIH format and can be up to 5 pages.
  6. Research Support: Include any previous URF’s, start-up funds (remaining balance) and other support (such as named or endowed chair). Failure to provide an accurate description of other support available to the PI will disqualify this application from URF funding.
  7. Undergraduate Research Mentorship Description (maximum 1 page): Optional and encouraged.
  8. Budget (maximum 1 page): Download the budget template. Complete the information.
  9. Appendix: Additional documents. Do not use the appendices to circumvent page limits.
  10. Co-PI biosketches (not CV’s) are required; key personnel and/or collaborator biosketches are optional. Instructors, Research Associates and/or Lecturers must include a letter from the School Dean or Dept Chair confirming that they will be appointed to the faculty by the time the award is made.
  11. Home departments must have a 26-digit budget code.
  12. All materials must be submitted in a single PDF document in the above order to
  13. Subject line of the email should be: URF_SCHOOL_applicant LAST name_ applicant FIRST name.