Making a Difference in Real-World Bioethics Dilemmas

Current Request for Proposals: Spring 2020


The Greenwall Foundation is requesting proposals for the Spring 2020 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, biomedical, or public health decision-making, policy, or practice.

The Foundation’s vision is to make bioethics integral to decisions in health care, policy, and research. Our mission is to expand bioethics knowledge to improve clinical, biomedical, and public health decision-making, policy, and practice. Projects funded under the Making a Difference program should promote the Foundation’s vision and mission through innovative bioethics research that will have a real-world, practical impact.

Letters of intent are due January 6, 2020 by 11:59 pm ET, for projects to begin on or after July 1, 2020

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

  • Developments in artificial intelligence;
  • Responses to the opioid epidemic; 
  • Bias and discrimination in clinical care against patients or clinicians, based on a broad range of characteristics;
  • Advances in biomedical and clinical research and their translation into clinical practice; and
  • Healthcare access, costs, and resource allocation. 

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

Projects may be empirical, conceptual, or normative. All proposals should explain how they will help address a real-world bioethics dilemma. Projects to analyze the normative implications of already-completed empirical research are encouraged. The Foundation will support mentored projects in which a postdoctoral fellow or junior faculty member works closely with an experienced bioethics scholar. 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. 

The research team needs to have relevant and appropriate expertise to carry out the proposed project. Successful teams commonly involve a bioethics scholar and persons with on-the-ground experience with the bioethics dilemma, for example, in clinical care; biomedical research; biotechnology, pharmaceutical, big data, and artificial intelligence companies; or public service. Such collaboration can specify the bioethics problems that clinicians, researchers, policymakers, public health officials, and others face in their daily work, and facilitate practical resolutions to these problems. Applicants are also encouraged to engage with relevant lay or community stakeholders throughout their project.

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).

In evaluating proposals, the Foundation will consider:

  • The likelihood the project will promote the Foundation’s vision and mission. Importantly, projects that aim to impact public policy should not constitute advocacy projects with predetermined conclusions.
  • The innovative nature of the project’s approach and how it goes beyond previous work on the bioethics 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 to stakeholder audiences beyond academia and key individuals who can change practice or policy.
  • The professional background of the team of investigators, including the team’s expertise in relevant disciplines, and their close, practical familiarity and real-world experience 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 who actively collaborates 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 disseminating the results of their research to relevant stakeholders.
  • The reasonableness of the budget and project timeline. Projects with smaller budgets and shorter timelines will receive priority.

The Greenwall Foundation will fund 10% indirect costs 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.

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

  • Projects for which bioethics is not the main focus.
  • Projects that simply describe or analyze bioethics issues or provide a conceptual framework, without making practical recommendations for resolving the issues.
  • 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 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 major peer-reviewed publication with consensus recommendations, guidelines, or best practices that have a strong likelihood of real-world implementation. The applicant must have a strong record in convening similar successful impactful meetings.
  • Projects to support or extend ongoing or core activities of an organization.
  • Projects with a principal investigator who does not have a PhD, JD, MD, or an equivalent doctoral-level degree.

In addition, The Greenwall Foundation only makes awards to affiliated individuals at institutions with tax-exempt status in the United States.

Working with The Greenwall Foundation is a collaborative process. Our goal is to help applicants to develop strong proposals that are positioned to have the greatest impact in real-world, practical settings. Experienced bioethics researchers serve as peer reviewers. 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 aligning their research interests 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. More detail about the review process can be found here.

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