Making a Difference in Real-World Bioethics Dilemmas

New Bioethics Funding Opportunity

New Bioethics Program, Spring 2015

Making a Difference in Real-World Bioethics Dilemmas


The Greenwall Foundation will fund a 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. We hope these grants will have a real-world, practical impact.


Under this RFP, we will fund four types of bioethics research grants to begin on or after July 1, 2015:

  1. Mentored projects
  2. Senior collaborations,
  3. Normative analyses of implications of empirical research conducted with other funding,
  4. Empirical projects.

The first three types of proposals generally will receive priority if the requested time frame is one-year or less, and the annual budget is below $60,000. Because of the nature of empirical projects, the fourth type of proposal may have longer timelines and larger annual budgets.  Additionally, The Greenwall Foundation will fund 10% institutional costs for the salary and benefits.


1. Mentored research projects. Awards to a senior bioethics researcher to carry out a mentored bioethics research project with a post-doctoral fellow or junior faculty member. The close mentoring will help ensure that the project is completed within a year. The Foundation will provide salary support for the effort of the mentor on the project. Projects where the mentee already has salary support will receive priority. Proposals in which the mentee has other responsibilities that compete with carrying out such a research project, like courses for a degree program and clinical responsibilities by resident physicians or fellows, will be considered only in exceptional circumstances. Mentored research projects may analyze the normative implications of empirical research conducted with other funding (as described in #3).  For projects that involve secondary analysis of existing data sets, the team must include expertise in the obtaining, merging, and analysis of such datasets. For mentored projects, primary data collection will be considered only in exceptional circumstances. Proposals to collect pilot or preliminary data for a larger project will not be considered.


2. Senior collaboration projects. Grants to allow innovative biomedical or clinical researchers or leaders of health care organizations or government agencies to partner with an established bioethics scholar to carry out research on the intersection of their primary work with bioethics. For example, a leading researcher in an innovative biomedical field could bring deep knowledge of that field to help analyze important unresolved bioethics problems in it. As another example, a physician-leader in a safety-net hospital or a public health agency could analyze ethical problems she or he had encountered and struggled with. Both collaborating senior scholars are eligible for salary support.


3. Analyzing the normative implications of empirical research you are conducting with other funding. Researchers able to obtain funding from other sponsors to carry out empirical research on a bioethics dilemma or issue, may lack support to write about the conceptual or normative implications of the findings of this empirical research. We will fund investigators to write conceptual or normative analyses, providing that the empirical study is well-designed and the findings interesting.


4. Empirical bioethics research involving primary data collection.  We invite projects that involve the collection of primary data, are tightly linked to an active real-world bioethics problem or policy dilemma, and likely to contribute to its resolution. Priority will be given to important bioethics problems or policy questions, particularly those being actively debated by policy makers. The research team must demonstrate the ability to carry out such projects within the proposed time frame. Methodology should be rigorous, (e.g. attention to response rates, representativeness of the sample, and minimizing bias). These projects may have extended time frames and annual budgets larger than $100,000, however, all other things being equal, cost conscious projects will receive priority; for example by adding questions to already-funded survey projects or using cost sharing arrangements such as with existing grants or research trainees whose salary is supported from other sources (provided that trainees do not have conflicting classwork or clinical responsibilities). Proposals to collect pilot or preliminary data for a larger project are discouraged. Partial salary support may be requested for staff to manage the budget/finances and administration as appropriate. 


We expect grantees to disseminate their research through practical articles in one or more peer-reviewed journals that reach the appropriate audience for the topic studied, through presentations in relevant national and international professional meetings, and in other ways that will increase real-world impact.


Examples of the kinds of real-life bioethics problems grantees might address include:

  • Ethical and policy implications of advances in neurosciences and related disciplines. This is a new emphasis area for this funding cycle. These advances are transforming concepts of health and disease, understandings of what is normal human development and aging versus disease, and our capacity to intervene on brain function to change human behavior. These advances are having clinical impact, for example in concepts of “preclinical” or “prodromal” disease stages and technologies that can alter brain function. The Foundation encourages projects that will address two ethical and policy challenges related to these advances: (1) the design and conduct of research; and (2) the translation and dissemination of research results into clinical practice and daily life; including legal, social, and cultural issues.
  • Dilemmas raised by innovative biomedical research and by new communication technologies in clinical medicine.
  • Dilemmas from major changes in the delivery of U.S. health care resulting from the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Acts, changes in the FDA regulatory process, and private initiatives.
  • Dilemmas that are particularly salient -- and particularly ripe for analysis -- in certain cultural and ethnic communities, although they also involve people across the population.


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.
  • The appropriateness and rigor of the methods, analysis plan, strategy, and approach
  • The innovative nature of the project's approach and how it goes beyond previous work on the issue.
  • The professional background of the proposed investigators, and their close, practical familiarity with the bioethics problems to be addressed.
  • The previous success of the principal investigator in carrying out similar projects (mentoring, collaboration, normative implication of empirical research, or primary data collection).
  • The success of the investigators publishing practical bioethics articles, similar to what is proposed, in top-tier journals with a broad audience.
  • The value added by interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • The reasonableness of the budget. All things being equal, projects with smaller budgets will receive priority.


While we will give strong preference to proposals that meet these criteria, we will also consider exceptional proposals outside these criteria that meet our strategic goal of supporting bioethics research that will have a real-world impact. More than one applicant may apply from each institution, but primary investigators may submit only one letter of intent per funding cycle. 


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

  • Projects that implement or make incremental improvements in established approaches to bioethics problems, build institutional infrastructure, or provide bioethics education, training or course work.
  • 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 (project category three).
  • Proposals to gather pilot or preliminary data for a larger project.
  • Projects whose main goal is to convene or enhance a meeting.
  • Projects to support or extend ongoing or core activities of an organization.
  • Projects with a principle investigator that does not have one of the following graduate degrees: PhD, JD, MD, or its equivalent
  • Applications from unaffiliated individuals and from institutions outside the U.S. The Greenwall Foundation awards grants only to tax-exempt institutions in the U.S.

We welcome e-mail inquiries about this initiative to


Application Process: Spring 2015


Letters of Inquiry Due by January 12, 2015

Full Proposals Due by March 9, 2015

Projects to commence on or after July 1, 2015


Directions for Submitting a Letter of Intent

Please follow this link to access the online application. 

In order to access the online application, you must allow cookies in your browser.  If you have any issues accessing the online application, a common fix is to clear your browsing history. 


You will need to create a username and password by clicking on “New Applicant?” under the “email” box on the left side of the page.  Please store your login credentials in a secure place because you will need them to access your application.  If you have applied for a Greenwall grant previously using our online platform, please enter your credentials. 


You will need to save your application frequently so that your input is captured; any unsaved information will be lost.  There is no option to save and continue working, so you must select “Save and Finish Later”. You can return to your “In Progress” application by clicking on the blue link on the new page that will appear in your browser.  Upon clicking “Save and Finish Later,” you also will be emailed a link to the application portal and a copy of your application will appear in the body of the email. 


To access your application after you have logged out of the online application system, use the link that was emailed to you when you clicked “Save and Finish Later”.  It is important to use the link that is emailed to you to resume work on an application.  If you use the link listed here, you will always be brought to a NEW application, not the one you were previously working on. 


If you have any questions or concerns regarding the online application process, please contact Rebekkah Boxt by email at or phone at 212-679-7266. We will not accept late applications because of technical issues with the online application portal, so please try logging in and entering your information in advance of the deadline.


Letters of intent require the following information be entered into our online application from:

  • PI Contact information
  • Title
  • Type of project: senior collaboration, mentored project, normative implications, primary data collection, and clinical trials data sharing
  • The amount and duration of funding requested (Salaries for investigators are capped at 1.5x the 2015 NIH cap for the basis of the percent effort allocation and fringe rates will be capped at 35%)
  • A one sentence summary of the project for a lay audience
  • Names of the proposed research team and copies of CV's (no more than 3 pages each, highlighting publications relevant to the application) of the two main investigators (or mentee and mentor), all in NIH-style biosketch format with one-inch margins (left, right, top and bottom).
  • A narrative organized around the following headers:
    • The bioethics problem to be addressed
    • The specific aims or research questions of the project
    • How the proposed project is innovative and goes beyond the current work on the problem, particularly in its potential to have a real-world impact
    • The nature of peer-reviewed publication(s) expected from the project and how the target journal audience includes key individuals who can change practice or policy.

This narrative should be no longer than 3 double-spaced pages plus references. Please do not send any additional information. Please title it: “PI Last Name, Institution, Project Title."


Letters of intent for this cycle must be submitted online by January 12, 2015 at 4:00pm ET.  However we strongly encourage applicants to submit letters of intent earlier, so that they have more time to respond to feedback from reviewers, if invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals will be due March 9, 2015, with project periods to start on or after July 1, 2015.  Because of the relatively tight deadline for full proposals, with financial information approved by an appropriate officer, there may be some allowance for budget deadlines.  However, priority will be given to fully completed proposals.


We will fund another cycle of grants in Fall 2015. The request for proposals and due date for this cycle will be announced in the Summer of 2015.