VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund


These resources contain material that may be of general use in writing research proposals.

Past Awardees

The VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund - the "Research Fund" - is grounded in the President's commitment to develop and enhance faculty scholarship across the institution. Formally known as VCU Presidential Research Incentive Program (or PRIP), its goal is to afford all faculty internal funding opportunities to support new, emerging, or continuing research. In part, the Research Fund addresses three initiatives in the Virginia Commonwealth University's 'Quest for Distinction' Strategic Plan: 1) increasing and diversifying the university's sponsored research; 2) increasing productivity in high impact and translational research; and, 3) increasing interdisciplinary research.

Proposals to the Research Fund are encouraged from all faculty regardless of their current research support. Research proposals that advance any discipline and area of research focus are appropriate for consideration. Requests for grant support may be based on a broad array of needs, from restarting an inactive research program to pilot studies that would produce preliminary results on which external grant applications could be based. Proposed work that helps advance interdisciplinary research and inter-campus collaboration as well as research that has the potential for translation to practice or market is especially encouraged.

All full-time VCU faculty, regardless of rank or tenure status are eligible to apply.

Applications to the Research Fund are due April 1, annually

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Research Fund Details [+][-]


All full-time VCU faculty regardless of rank or tenure status are eligible to apply. Faculty receiving a grant from the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund as either a Principal Investigator (PI) or co-Principal Investigator (co-PI) must delay subsequent applications to the Research Fund for a specified time depending on their rank. Junior faculty may submit a second proposal 3 years from the termination date of their first award. Senior faculty are required to wait 4 years. No faculty member may receive more than 2 Research Fund awards in a 10 year period.

Budget and allowable costs

Award amounts are variable and must consist of a cash component contributed by the investigator's chair and/or dean from school/departmental funds. In short, the Research Fund provides 60% of the total award, and the department or school provides no less than 40%. The typical award architecture is as follows:

Total Budget Requested Research Fund Contribution Department/School Contribution
$50,000 $30,000 $20,000
$30,000 $18,000 $12,000
$20,000 $12,000 $8,000

The application must have guaranteed unit-level cost-sharing. These must be unit contributed dollars, and they cannot be reallocated dollars from another extramural or intramural research funding source of the investigator(s).

The total budget may be for any amount up to $50,000, but must always reflect the 60/40% contribution scheme.

Allowable costs include those typically appropriate for grant budgets to federal agencies, including investigator salary. Where justified, a major portion of the budget can be used to offset faculty time and effort in order to allow significant effort to be applied to scholarly activities. Renovation costs are not allowable. Only direct costs are paid by Research Fund awards.

Proposal submission

Proposals must be submitted to the relevant Dean's Office by April 1 of each year.

Faculty whose appointment is not within one of VCU's academic schools (including the School of the Arts in Qatar) the College of Humanities and Sciences, or VCU Life Sciences should contact Ann Nichols-Casebolt in the Office of Research and Innovation ( to discuss submission and review options.

Proposal review

Incomplete applications or those submitted after the deadline will not be reviewed. Incomplete applications are those from ineligible faculty and applications deviating from the guidelines listed below.

There will be two levels of Research Fund review: first within the school/college and then recommendations are forwarded to the forwarded to the Research Fund Review Committee. The submission, review, and funding process is coordinated by the Vice President for Research and Innovation who will recommend proposals to the President for final approval.

The number of proposals recommended for funding is dependent upon the Research Fund dollars available each year.

Unit Level Review: All applications are first submitted to the dean (or his/her designee). While each school/college/relevant unit will establish its own review process, every application within the school/college/relevant unit must be reviewed using a common format and scoring criteria. Applications must be assessed in the following areas with percentage of score assigned as noted:

  • Scholarly merit of the project: 60%
  • Potential for extramural funding leading from the project: 10%
  • Contribution of the project to the scholarly trajectory/line of inquiry of the investigator: 10%
  • Extent of interdisciplinary and cross-campus collaborations: 5%
  • Potential for translation to practice or market: 5%
  • Additional school/college criteria as relevant to unit priorities: 10%

A written assessment must be completed on each application that is reviewed at the unit level. Assessments must be made available to the PI when the Research Fund award process is complete.

The unit-level review committees forward recommendations to the Research Fund Review Committee (RFRC) within 4 weeks of the application deadline. Applications forwarded to the RFRC must be scored (using the criteria and weights noted above), and, if there is more than one application forwarded from a unit, the applications should be ranked based on an assessment of recommended funding priority. The school/college process for reviewing will also be presented to the RFRC for review.

The Research Fund Review Committee: The Research Fund Review Committee (RFRC) will consist of the members of the Research Development Advisory Council (ReDAC). The RFRC makes recommendations for funding to the Vice President for Research and Innovation.

Only applications with assured matching funds from the unit(s) will be considered for funding by the PRC. Applications will be ranked to allow for final decisions based on funding available. In its ranking, the RFRC will consider such factors as distribution of awards across units and the alignment with VCU Quest for Distinction. If it is a collaborative project reviewed by more than one unit, rankings from all units will be presented to the RFRC.

Within 4 weeks of receipt of unit recommendations, the RFRC will make their final recommendations for funding to the Vice President for Research and Innovation who will communicate the recommendations to the President.

Funding period

The Research Fund award is 18 months, from July 1 to December 31. Awards are made on July 1.

Awardee responsibilities

IRB and IACUC approval (if needed) are required prior to release of funds.

A brief (2-3 pages) final report of the Fund-sponsored results and outcomes (e.g. grants submitted, papers published, presentations made, etc.) must be submitted to the Vice President for Research and Innovation within 60 days of the completion of the project. The report must be signed by both the Principal Investigator and his or her departmental chair.

All publications, presentations, etc. resulting from the project must acknowledge financial support from the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund.

Due Dates [+][-]

April 1 annually

Applications submitted electronically to the dean's office by close of business.

Applications are due on April 1, annually.

Specific questions about the submission process should be directed to your dean's office.
April 1-April 30 School/College reviews conducted.
May 1-May 30 Research Fund Review Committee reviews completed and awards recommended to Vice President of Research and Innovation and President.
July 1

Research Fund awards made.

Research Fund award period is July 1-December 31 (18 months).

Instructions [+][-]

VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund applications should be submitted electronically to the dean (or designee) of your school no later than close of business on April 1.

Application checklist: Complete all sections of the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund Application Form.

Cover Page: Include information for Principal Investigator, general project information, and appropriate endorsements of chair and dean. File entitled "Fillable application form for joint (multiple PI) applications" includes space for Co-Principal Investigator information.

Previous/Current Funding and Collaborators: Detail any external funding requests or awards that have been made to support this (or similar) project. List collaborators, their roles and percent effort on the proposed project, and certify that their participation has been approved by their unit heads.

Budget Data: List and justify costs in the areas of equipment, supplies, personnel, and additional expenses.

Response to prior critique (if applicable): If this application is a revision to a previous PRIP or Research Fund submission, detail the major changes. 1 page maximum.

Research Plan: It should be organized according to the following:

  • Background and significance
  • Specific aims
  • Preliminary results (if applicable)
  • Research/scholarship methodology that is well-designed and uses adequate statistical and sample size calculations as appropriate
  • Description of the contribution of the project to the investigator's scholarly trajectory/line of inquiry
  • Outcomes including specific information on how the award will be leveraged into external support

The Research Plan is limited to 8 pages. Space allocation is at the discretion of the Principal Investigator.

References: 2 pages maximum

Timeline: The timeline should outline major project milestones anticipated during the 18 month period of performance. The project start date is July 1 and the end date is December 31, 18 months later. 1 page maximum.

Alignment with VCU Quest for Distinction: Each application should include a statement addressing how this project aligns with/supports the VCU Quest for Distinction. 100 word maximum.

Biosketch(es): The Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator(s) must complete a biographical sketch, which includes include a history of education and training, relevant appointments, peer reviewed publications, a history of past and present research funding, pending grant applications, and a personal statement. Each biographical sketch is limited to 4 pages.

Mentor Letter of Support and Mentoring Plan (if applicable): Certain applicants for Program awards must include a mentoring plan. Submissions from junior faculty who have been employed at VCU for 3 years or less are required to include a letter of support from a senior faculty member who will serve as a mentor to the applicant. The mentor must be appointed by the department chair with the approval of the Dean. The mentor must be a VCU faculty member who is an experienced, externally-funded principal investigator. The mentor's letter should describe his or her plan for providing guidance and project oversight. This plan should be formulated in concert with the departmental chair and with the applicant. The defined participation of a mentor follows a number of external funding models, and is designed to help promote the success of the project and the positive professional development of the applicant. Exceptions to the mentoring plan requirement may be granted by the applicant's internal review committee.

Format specifications

Use 12 point font. Page margins must be at least 0.75 inches on all sides (top, bottom, left, and right) for all pages. The application must be single spaced. Consecutively number all pages in the application.

For documents with tracked changes, turn off the tracked changes function and accept all changes.

Research Fund application packages must be saved as a single PDF. Documents should be named PIlastname_date.pdf (e.g. Smith_August2009.pdf).


Please direct all questions to Ann Nichols-Casebolt, Senior Associate Vice President for Research Development, at

Forms [+][-]

Application Form for Single Investigator Projects
Application Form for Multiple PI Projects
Additional Biosketch Forms

All documents must be converted to PDFs before submitting.

Technical questions about the Presidential Research Quest Fund application forms should be directed to Jessica Venable, Grant and Research Analyst, at