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Raising the Bar for Science

A new initiative will fund faculty projects that combine basic and applied science.

By Isabella Gomes • Illustration by Rapeepon Boonsongsuwan/Getty Images

The path from basic discovery to lifesaving interventions in the field is about to get a lot shorter.

A new pilot program called SCIBAR—Support for Creative Integrated Basic and Applied Research—will award $1 million over four years each to up to four faculty-led projects that combine basic science research with meaningful application on the ground. Sponsored by the Dean’s Office and the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, SCIBAR aims to realize the power of science in public health—a major objective of the School’s strategic plan launched in 2018.

“The SCIBAR initiative emphasizes the importance of placing basic and applied science at the forefront of public health solutions,” says Janet DiPietro, PhD, vice dean for Research and Faculty. “By investing in our faculty and leveraging the breadth of expertise across our departments, we celebrate the cell-to-society perspective that has always been in [the School’s] DNA.” 

The new program plans to begin accepting proposals this summer and award grants to start July 2020. A key requirement is that faculty members from at least two departments play significant roles in the project.

SCIBAR is our chance to dream big and make a real impact.

“This grant is designed to foster collaboration among the school’s many amazing faculty,” says Joshua Sharfstein, MD, vice dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement. “Engagement with communities and policymakers will also be helpful in drawing the connection between new scientific insight and impact.”

SCIBAR applicants must also showcase an “ambitious goal” within their proposals, says DiPietro.

“In today’s funding climate, traditional funding sources have become more risk-averse,” she says. “We’ve designed SCIBAR to welcome proposals that are riskier or engage more big-picture, blue-sky thinking.” 

“SCIBAR is our chance to dream big and make a real impact,” says Nina M. Martin, PhD ’17, assistant scientist in International Health and SCIBAR program manager. “SCIBAR projects will capture the imagination, celebrate team science and have the potential to open up new areas of research and collaboration.”