Request for Applications – Research Grants

Overview of Program Goals and Scope

The PKD Foundation’s principal mission is to support basic, translational and clinical research that will benefit patients with ARPKD and ADPKD. The Foundation accomplishes this in part through funding of basic and translational research.

Under this RFA, the PKD Foundation solicits research grant applications in the following areas:

  • Basic research – to enhance understanding of molecular basis of PKD and its pathobiology
  • Translational research – to accelerate the development of therapeutic strategies for PKD
  • Clinical research – small pilot studies
  • Epidemiology/data analysis research – to conduct secondary data analyses utilizing existing database resources, or to develop new statistical methodologies or test hypotheses using existing data


Special consideration will be given to proposed research in the following areas:

  • Autosomal Recessive PKD (ARPKD)
  • PKD in children
  • Biomarker discovery and validation
  • Readout assays for modeling of PKD pathway activity
  • Innovative techniques to apply gene therapy to PKD
  • Dietary interventions
  • PKD therapeutic drug delivery

Important Dates

Application Deadline – Jan. 6, 2020 (portal closes at 11:59pm CST)  

Review period- January to May 2020           

Applicant Notification – May 2020 

Funding Cycle – July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022

Program Specifics

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must have an M.D., Ph.D. or equivalent degree and hold a faculty appointment at the institution where the research will be conducted. Applicants need not be United States citizens. No fellowships will be awarded under this RFA, although salary support for personnel working on the project may be requested. Applicants may only submit one grant proposal per funding cycle.

Application Review Procedures

All applications are evaluated by the PKD Foundation’s Grants Review Committee, comprised of members of the Scientific Advisory Committee, a Stakeholder Review Panel and independent ad hoc scientific reviewers. The Grants Review Committee abides by the PKDF COI guidance policy for all applications. 

Funding of awards is based on the priority score, the recommendations of the Grants Review Committee and the Scientific Advisory Committee, and the availability of funds. Final review and approval rests with the Board of Trustees.

The approach for scoring of applications is based on the NIH scoring system, and the Stakeholder Review Panel is representative of PKD patients or caregivers following a process modeled after the DOD Consumer Reviewer program.

Download our Guidance for Reviewers with more details on how the Stakeholder Review may impact your application. 

The assigned reviewers will evaluate at least five individual criteria (e.g., Significance, Innovation, Approach, Investigator(s), Environment), considering the strengths and weaknesses within each criterion. Reviewers may also specifically consider:

  • The conceptual basis on which the proposal rests.
  • The novelty of the concept and strategy.
  • The clarity of the presentation.
  • The overall plan for transitioning research findings to clinical applications.
  • The likelihood that the proposed project will contribute to or result in a viable therapeutic intervention for PKD patients.
  • The experience, background, and qualifications of investigators.
  • The adequacy of the applicant’s resources and environment (facilities, patient population, data management, and data analysis).
  • The likelihood that successful completion of the proposed studies would result in further research funded by another agency (e.g. NIH, DOD, FDA).
  • The adequacy of provisions for the protection of human subjects (if applicable).
  • Institutional Review Board approval (if applicable).


Award amounts will equal $80,000 direct costs per year for two years, for a total grant award of $160,000 (or $240,000 for a three-year Young Investigator Award). Future-year funding is dependent upon the availability of funds and interim research progress. The funds awarded must be used solely for the purposes specified in the proposal submitted to and approved by the PKD Foundation as executed by the investigator and institution in strict compliance with the budget attached to the application. Please note the following restrictions on salary, travel and indirect costs:

  • No Indirect Costs are paid on this award.
  • No more than 50% of the Direct Costs ($40,000) may be used for the applicant’s or other personnel’s salary.  Any use of the award for salary support must be justified in the application.
  • Consultant costs cannot exceed $10,000; equipment costs cannot exceed $12,000.
  • No more than $1500 per year may be used for travel.
  • Successful applicants may not hold any other research funding from the PKD Foundation at the time funding of this grant begins.
  • Applicants with existing funding from other sources will be eligible to apply for this award as long as there is no scientific overlap between the new application and existing or anticipated funding.
  • All current or potential PKD Foundation funding must be disclosed at the time of application.

International Collaborations

Due to international PKD Foundation alliances, we especially welcome grant applications for research conducted in:

  • Canada (funding made possible by a collaboration with the PKD Foundation of Canada)
  • Australia (funding made possible by a collaboration with the PKD Australia)

Young Investigator Award

An optional third year of support will be available to a young investigator(s). The recipient(s) will be selected from meritorious grant applications to support the transition of a junior scientist to an independent investigator.

Specific eligibility criteria at the time of the beginning of this additional support include:

  • Faculty appointment not required at time of application but must be held by start of funding;
  • No other career development award may be held or accepted (e.g., NIH K-award or equivalent);
  • No major research award may be held or accepted (e.g., NIH R01 or equivalent)
  • No more than 5 years* from completing post-doctoral or clinical fellowship training
    • *If you have experienced a circumstance that puts you outside of the 5-year timeframe (e.g. maternity leave) but you feel that you still qualify for the Young Investigator Award, please check this box regardless and add a comment in the one-page description below.

Interested applicants will need to clearly outline their interest, eligibility, and scope of research for this third year of funding.

Grant Resubmissions

Applicants are restricted to one application resubmission and will be asked to provide a one-page response to reviewer comments. You must resubmit the resubmission application within 37 months of the application it follows. Thereafter, the application must be submitted as a new application.

Reporting Requirements

Grantees must submit an interim research and budget progress report 1-2 pages in length at the close of year one.  As part of this report, a brief (one or two paragraph) summary written for the lay public must be included.  Although Research Grant Awards are for a two-year period, the PKD Foundation reserves the right to terminate any grant if there has been inadequate research progress during the first year of the award.

Within thirty (30) days of the expiration of the final grant period, the grantee must submit a final research report which must include a detailed explanation of all research outcomes and a financial status report. As a part of the research report, there must be a summary (one to two pages) written for the lay public. Copies of all accepted and future publications and/or news releases concerning the research must also be submitted. 

The financial officer of the sponsoring institution must also submit a cumulative final accounting within 45 days of completion or termination of the grant.  Any unexpended funds must be returned to the PKD Foundation within ninety (90) days from the termination of the grant.


A stipulation to all awards is appropriate attribution of the PKD Foundation in any publication, news release, presentation, etc. that results from work funded by the award.  The PKD Foundation must also receive a copy of the publication and/or news release. This responsibility extends beyond the interval of provided funding.

Grantees are asked to please use language similar to the following: This research was funded by a grant from the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation, The Foundation had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Intellectual Property Policy

All research projects funded by the PKD Foundation are subject to its intellectual property policy. Details can be found at By accepting a PKD Foundation award for a research project, the Principal Investigator or other personnel contributing to and working on the project, as well as the Institution(s) with which they are affiliated, agree to be bound by the terms and conditions of this policy.

Liability Policy & Reporting Responsibilities

The PKD Foundation serves as a grantor not a sponsor for research grant projects.  For those involving human subjects, the responsibility for liability issues and all reporting requirements including local, state and federal regulations and requirements including those of the FDA, will reside with the sponsoring institution, not the PKD Foundation.

Conflict of Interest 

Any relationship between the investigators and any industrial collaborator must be disclosed in the application.

Grants Policy Statement Regarding Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Prior to releasing funding, the PKD Foundation will require an Authorized Organizational Representative to certify by means of a signed letter on institutional letterhead, institutional commitment to ensuring:

  1. Proper policies, procedures and oversight are in place to prevent discriminatory harassment and other discriminatory practices, and;
  2. Commitment to respond promptly and appropriately to allegations of discriminatory practices.

Failure to provide the signed letter will result in withdrawal of the application/funding. The full Foundation policy can be found here.

Application Instructions

The application cycle for 2020 has closed. See below for sections included in the application.

  1. Grant resubmission response to reviewer comments (one page, if applicable) [description: must describe nature and impact of the revision and summarize the changes made to the application since the last submission].
  2. Proposal Abstract (up to 30 lines) and its relevance to PKD research [description: Describe the project in a scientific abstract that is understandable to a multidisciplinary group of scientific reviewers].
  3. Lay summary (250 words) that is understandable by the general public.
  4. Resources and environment (one single page) [description: Include a brief description of laboratory space, equipment, clinical facilities (if relevant), access to patient populations (if relevant) and other resources necessary for the project].
  5. Specific Aims (one single page)
  6. Research Plan (up to 8 pages):
      1. Significance
      2. Innovation
      3. Approach (including Rationale, Background and Preliminary studies, Research design, Expected outcomes, Concerns, and Alternative strategies)
      4. Statistical Analyses
      5. Rigor, Reproducibility, and Transparency (including Scientific premise/Quality of prior research, and Scientific rigor/Strategies for unbiased experimental design)
  7. References (no page limit); citations of relevant publications
  8. Budget and Justification in United States dollars [description: no more than 50% of direct costs ($40,000/year) may be used for salary and fringe and must be justified. Consultant costs cannot exceed $10,000. Equipment costs cannot exceed $12,000. No indirect costs can be paid with this award. (online form will be used); see the provided template for guidance. Salary and equipment cost limitations may be waived on research involving epidemiology/data analysis research. Please contact with details of your project to be considered.
  9. Biosketch (no page limit) [description: new style NIH Biosketch format. Must include a biosketch for any individual whose salary is included in the budget or are otherwise key personnel]
  10. Letters of Support from Collaborators, Contributors, and Consultants (not required; quantity not limited). Those qualifying for the Young Investigators Award may also want to provide a professional reference letter speaking to the researcher’s individual quality as a scientist (maximum of 2 reference letters).
  11. Other support (no page limit) [description: new style NIH format including current funding, pending funding for all key personnel] (pdf upload)
  12. Signed IRB approval and summary of the clinical protocol (or letter confirming that IRB approval will be obtained before start of project/funds are awarded), if applicable (no page limit)
  13. Signed IACUC approval of animal use protocol (or letter confirming that IACUC approval will be obtained before start of project/funds are awarded), if applicable (no page limit)

Formatting Requirements 

Font size and types, margins and line spacing requirements are necessary to ensure readability. Applications that do not strictly adhere to the following guidelines will be administratively withdrawn.

  • Font size: Must be 11 points or larger. Smaller text in figures, graphs, diagrams, and charts is acceptable, as long as it is clearly legible when the page is viewed at 100%.
    • Some PDF conversion software reduces the font size. It is important to confirm that the final PDF document complies with the font requirements.
  • Text fonts: please use one of the following:
    • Arial
    • Georgia
    • Helvetica
  • Page margins: 1-inch margins from top, bottom, left and right aspects of each page.
  • Line spacing: No more than six lines per vertical inch (e.g., text using Arial font size 11 would need to be at least single (1.0) spaced).
  • Text color: No restriction. Though not required, black or other high-contrast text colors are recommended since they print well and are legible to the largest audience.
  • Headers and Footers: Please include headers, footers, page numbers and section description on each page of your PDF uploads.
  • *All images, graphs, charts, etc. should be included in the Project Plan section of the application. 

For general guidance how to structure and write a grant application consider NIH resources (e.g., Format and Write Applications or Research Forms)


If you have any questions, please contact