Fundamental research, also called discovery-driven basic research, is investigation into the essential truths of the natural world. Such research advances the boundaries of human knowledge and furthers the frontiers of science. Findings from fundamental research provide the foundation upon which all technological and biomedical advances are built. As such, philanthropic investment in fundamental research has the potential to result in immeasurable benefit to humanity.
One of the world’s leading public research universities, UCLA has a deep, rich history of exceptional fundamental research. Among their many contributions, UCLA faculty have discovered the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy; uncovered the enzymatic mechanisms that generate ATP (the currency of the cell); elucidated the molecular mechanisms that give rise to blood, breast and prostate cancers and used these insights to develop highly effective and widely used therapies; participated in the development of the Internet; made illuminating insights into the mathematics of prime numbers and harmonic analysis; performed large-scale human genetic studies to identify risk genes for autism spectrum disorders; developed the first PET scanners for human patients; and developed the groundwork for the development of computer-assisted tomography (CT scans) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Housed on a single campus with a history and culture of collaborative research, the very architecture of UCLA fosters the type of interdisciplinary science that gives rise to high-impact fundamental discoveries.
UCLA scientists are not always able to pursue their most compelling ideas because the current federal funding climate is conservative, generally supporting research projects that promise incremental progress rather than transformative advances. Philanthropic investment has the potential to introduce new funding streams and alter the landscape of fundamental research at UCLA – allowing investigators to pursue more ambitious, creative, and collaborative questions. To facilitate philanthropic investment in fundamental science, UCLA established the “Fundamental Research Fund.” This fund will accelerate outstanding fundamental research with the potential to expand human knowledge and unlock new fields of inquiry. In keeping with UCLA’s proud tradition of fundamental scientific discovery, the Fund will stimulate groundbreaking research at the forefront of science.
The UCLA Fundamental Research Fund is comprised of four opportunities for philanthropists to make an impact and transform the UCLA research landscape. Funding may be directed to the following basic research fields: biological sciences, biomedical sciences, engineering, mathematics, or physical sciences. Individuals can specify the opportunity and field they would like to support.
1. Catalyst Funds for New Directions will allow scientists to pursue their most compelling fundamental research questions outside of the scope of their current research. When scientists are empowered to explore novel areas, research blossoms in new ways. There is currently a great need for funding streams to support researchers in pursuing their outside-of-the-box ideas. Projects will be funded at $50,000 to $500,000 per year for up to three years.
2. Cross-Generational Collaborations will fund research collaborations between early career investigators and more senior faculty. Established faculty often have depth of knowledge in a particular area and the wisdom that comes from decades of research. Younger scientists bring new technologies and strength in systems and computational approaches. A differential of at least 10 years of tenure-track research experience will be required for teams to compete. Projects will be funded at $50,000 to $500,000 per year for up to three years.
3. Training the Next Generation of Scientists Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Fellowships will allow UCLA to attract and train the brightest, most creative young scientists. Graduate students are the engines of research in university laboratories and represent the future of scientific discovery. Graduate Fellowships of $75,000 per year will support outstanding scientists at the outset of their careers. Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowships of $90,000 per year will provide funding to support a pathway to research independence for exceptionally promising investigators at this critical stage of career development. Fellows having completed three years of postdoctoral work will be eligible to apply.
4. Grand Challenge Fundamental Research Fund will support basic research projects related to the UCLA Grand Challenges. Under the leadership of the Chancellor, hundreds of UCLA scholars have joined forces in two mega-research collaborations called Grand Challenges. Each Grand Challenge unites scores of UCLA experts under the premise that by setting the sights of many on a common goal, we will have more impact than we ever have before. These are the biggest, most collaborative, and potentially most transformative efforts UCLA has undertaken to date, and the discoveries and scholarship produced are expected to deliver real benefit to California, the nation, and the world. Both Grand Challenges have basic, discovery-driven research at their cores and place special emphasis on the benefits of cross-disciplinary collaboration. This fund will support collaborative basic research projects funded at up to $250,000/year for up to three years. Individuals may elect to support one grand challenge, or both.
PURPOSE AND FOCUS:
UCLA’s Fundamental Research Fund will catalyze research ventures with broad potential for impact in the fundamental sciences. Through fellowships and research grants, this fund will infuse essential capital to exceptional researchers, allowing them to pursue their most audacious goals.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE:
Scientists from all fundamental research disciplines (biological sciences, biomedical sciences, engineering, mathematics and physical sciences) will be eligible for funding.
APPLICATION AND REVIEW:
Funds will be managed by the UCLA Foundation and the grant process will be administered through The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, The Graduate Division or the Dean, depending upon the fund.