Tier 3: University-Wide Research Initiatives

A University-Wide Research Initiative (URI) brings together researchers with diverse backgrounds and disciplines from across multiple schools and departments.

This program aims to spur interdisciplinary research and address an existing challenge – the difficulty for our faculty teams to establish key criteria to be competitive from scratch in the short time between the call for proposals and the due date. These key criteria typically include (1) demonstrated support for the research area by the Institution (i.e. Institutional commitments), (2) a Center Director with prior demonstrated leadership experience in managing or directing a center, (3) established industry and community partnerships, and (4) preliminary data or prior evidence of a strong collaborative team. These criteria are common requirements for highly competitive funding from the NIH, NSF and DOE. The Tier 3 program (as defined below) is designed to be proactive in preparing our faculty teams to be competitive for these large federally funded centers and institutes calls for proposals. URIs will also have other benefits including generating visibility of WashU’s leadership and expertise in the thematic areas, helping to synergize activities in that area across campus, and enhancing community and local partnerships.

Tier 3 LOIs should focus on Here and Next priority initiatives in Research Excellence: Public Health, Global Health, Environmental Research, Digital Transformation, and Research Impacting the St. Louis Community.

Examples of research groups that may benefit from establishing a URI:

  • Interdisciplinary groups that have started collaborative discussions and projects around a critical challenge. Initial outputs from the group may include a white paper, publication, or submitted proposal.
  • Interdisciplinary groups that have previously received some external sponsored funding to support collaborative research and other activities, such as symposiums, but need URI funding to broaden the group’s activities and support elevating it to a nationally recognized research group.

A University-Wide Interdisciplinary Research Initiative (URI) is an interdisciplinary collaborative effort, organized to conduct research across multiple schools. URIs are expected to include multiple faculty members (e.g., generally 10 or more) that are actively engaged in its activities. New URIs should not duplicate, substantially overlap with, or subsume the mission of existing URIs. These interdisciplinary Initiatives may be at an early phase of development, formed in response to anticipated specific funding opportunity announcement, or some may be more advanced in their formation (e.g., have had some demonstrated success) and need support to sustain their activities. Requests for educational initiatives or facilities support would be separate requests and not included in Here & Next Tier 3 seed funding.

Centers, institutes, consortia, and programs that are housed within a single school are not included in the definition of a URI. Such research units should not duplicate, substantially overlap with, or subsume the mission of existing URIs.

This guideline is intended to address URIs that include members from different schools and that plan to receive university financial support.
Functions of a URI:

  • Facilitate research and research collaborations
  • Disseminate research results through conferences, meetings, and other activities
  • Support and strengthen graduate and undergraduate education by providing students with training opportunities and access to research facilities
  • Seek extramural research funds
  • Carry out university and public services programs related to the URI’s research focus
  • Bringing national awareness to the focus of the URI by hosting national symposia, workshops, etc. Positioning WashU to be a leader in the URI focus area.

Competition Details

Award Period: Up to 3 years from award

Award Cap: Up to $150,000 per year for 3 years

Project # of Awards: Up to 5 URIs during the 2023-2024 academic year

Deadlines: Applicants are encouraged to submit an LOI to researchseedfunding@wustl.edu in advance of submitting a proposal via InfoReady. Full proposals are accepted via InfoReady on a rolling basis until April 30, 2024.

Link to InfoReady Competition for T3: University-Wide Research Initiative