Portage Health Foundation Research Awards

The Portage Health Foundation (PHF) and the Vice President for Research (VPR) have committed to $220,000 of internal research awards to health-oriented researchers. The PHF research awards utilize existing application processes, with minor modifications to required grant elements and review process as described below.

New in 2017 - a mid-career mechanism (PHF-MC) designed to support tenured faculty with an active NIH grant and/or a consistent history of external funding with NIH or a related agency.

Portage Health Foundation Research Excellence Funds (PHF-REF)

Using our existing REF program requirements, the goal of PHF-REF is to: 1) advance early career research designed to collect impactful preliminary data necessary to be competitive for external funding from federal agencies and foundations, particularly NIH; 2) facilitate applications for health-related patents and accelerate the establishment of viable start-up businesses aimed at commercializing a new technology; 3) and elevate Michigan Tech’s health-research visibility to state and federal officials who impact policy and determine funding. The following REF mechanisms are eligible for the PHF research awards:

Portage Health Foundation Core Facilities (PHF-CORE)

Using our existing CORE application process, which is restricted to recognized Core Facilities, the goal of PHF-CORE is to: 1) provide substantial infrastructure efficiencies (which can include personnel) and state-of-the-art equipment for health-oriented faculty and students, and 2) transform synergistic, interdisciplinary health-related research on campus.

Portage Health Foundation Mid-Career (PHF-MC)

The goal of PHF-MC is to: 1) advance mid-career research designed to collect impactful preliminary data necessary to be competitive for NIH R01 grants or other external funding; 2) provide bridge/seed funding for faculty with strong records of external funding for health-oriented work; 3) provide seed funding for health-oriented faculty that have traditionally pursued non-NIH funding agencies (i.e. NSF, DoD, etc.), but are committed to pursuing NIH R01 funding; 4) and elevate Michigan Tech's health-research visibility to state and federal officials who impact policy and determine funding. The PHF-MC is open to tenured faculty (associate and full professors) with an active NIH grant and/or consistent history of external funding with NIH or a related agency. PHF-MC will utilize the same proposal guidelines as REF-RS.

Portage Health Foundation proposals require an additional Impact Statement.

To be considered for PHF-REF, PHF-CORE, or PHF-MC funding, the proposal must include a separate section with a clear 1-pg statement of impact relevant to the five Portage Health Foundation pillars. This section should also describe project timeline and plans to secure funding from NIH and related agencies or foundations. 

In addition to established REF and Core Facilities review criteria, PHF research award considerations will include:

  • Potential to secure additional external funds (note the PHF and Michigan Tech have set an aggressive goal to achieve a 20% growth of NIH funding per year during the next five years).
  • Potential to submit competitive NIH R01 applications (particularly important for PHF-MC applications).
  • Impact on the health research, education, and community health and wellness, as well as, our local and state economy.
  • Extent of enhancement of the University's health research capability.

PHF research award applications will undergo a two tiered review process

The proposals will first be evaluated and scored via established REF and Core Facilities review processes.  For REF proposals, this includes a panel review coordinated by the VPR office. Core Facilities proposals are directly reviewed by the VPR. After these initial reviews, the PHF Steering Committee will assess health-related relevance and make recommendations to the VPR given the funds available. All review comments will be shared with the PI including a brief explanation of the final funding recommendation. 

Requirements for PHF research award recipients

Faculty who receive PHF research awards will be expected to participate in an annual social event hosted by Michigan Tech aimed at engaging researchers and physicians and clinicians in strategic conversations that translate research and practice into better health understandings and community collaborations.

Awardees of the Commercialization Milestone Grants will be expected to participate in “Smart Start” training through the SmartZone.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Am I eligible for the PHF-REF, PHF-CORE, or PHF-MC awards?
If you believe your research addresses issues relevant to advancing human health, and your proposal addresses PHF research awards criteria described above, then we encourage you to submit to mechanisms you are eligible for.  Please consult REF and CORE guidelines to determine eligibility; each is unique.  For example, REF-Seed grants are only open to tenure-track faculty and nontenure research faculty within 6 years of initial appointment; REF-IE can be submitted by chairs, deans, center/institute directors; Core Facilities proposals can only be submitted by directors of recognized Core Facilities.  Finally, PHF-MC is a new category that is only open to tenured faculty with an active NIH grant and/or a consistent history of external funding with NIH or a related agency.

If I plan to submit a health-oriented research proposal, do I have to submit my proposal through PHF-REF, PHF-CORE, or PHF-MC?
No, you are not required to designate your proposal through the PHF research awards mechanism.  You are free to submit through the established REF and CORE processes, which do not entail the additional 1-pg impact statement and additional PHF requirements (i.e., participation in annual social event with local physicians/clinicians).  However, given the estimated commitment from the VPR (~$110,000/year) and the PHF match (~$110,000/year), it is unlikely that additional health-oriented proposals will be funded through the normal process due to anticipated needs to fund other strategic areas across campus with limited funds (i.e., water, energy, transportation, computing, etc). Note that there is not a mid-career category for established REF processes, so PHF-MC is unique to health-oriented research at this time.

If my research entails some health-oriented dimension, but my primary goal is to submit a NSF grant, should I submit my proposal through the PHF research awards program or the existing REF or Core Facilities program?
As outlined in the awards description, a primary goal of the PHF investment is to advance research designed to collect impactful preliminary data necessary to be competitive for external funding from federal agencies and foundations with a human health focus, particularly NIH. As such, proposals are expected to have such external funding programs as a primary endpoint.  

If I have additional questions about the PHF research awards program, whom should I contact?
There will be a campus-wide forum hosted by the PHF steering committee in January 2017 in which this program will be discussed.  However, if you have additional questions prior to that campus forum, please contact Jason Carter at jcarter@mtu.edu.