In order to pursue new research directions, researchers must have flexible resources available to initiate new and innovative areas of research prior to seeking full-scale funding from NIH or other external sources. For many research ideas, especially those promising to break new ground, it is useful to first have a small experimental phase. Results from this pilot phase can then be used to refine and enhance plans for a full-scale research project. This approach can substantially reduce the lead-time from concept development to full-scale project funding because many uncertainties about research methodologies and scientific merit can be resolved early.
To actively promote innovation and cross-disciplinary collaborations in new research directions, the PRC has a program of internally peer-reviewed seed grant projects that allows researchers to work on new ideas as a first step toward seeking external funding. The Seed Grant program is led by Michael Rendall.
The objectives of the seed grant program are threefold:
- To have a mechanism for exploring interesting new research avenues without undue delay
- To support new (typically junior) members of the research staff in developing their research agenda within RAND
- To foster interdisciplinary research by giving priority to proposals based on collaboration of researchers with different disciplinary backgrounds
Thus, although the award of seed grants will be based on peer-reviewed quality assessment of short proposals, we anticipate that new staff members and those engaging in multidisciplinary projects will especially benefit from the program. In recognition of the importance of this activity as a catalyst for defining the future direction of demographic research at RAND, RAND funds will be used to match the R24 seed grant funds. The RAND funds will allow the investigator(s) to extend the research initiated under the R24 seed grant and to seek external funding.