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Investigator Program

Applications closed January 15, 2024

Investigator Award Overview

The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Chicago will support Investigators at Biohub partner institutions (Northwestern University, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) to perform research on topics related to instrumented tissues as well as research linked to inflammation and the functions of the immune system. Investigators will pursue high-risk, high-reward research ideas representing new directions that are not currently funded by other sources. No preliminary data are required. Applicants must hold a faculty appointment at a partner institution.

The first cycle of applications will open on November 1, 2023, and close on January 15, 2024, at 5 pm CST. Awards will be selected for both single Investigators and teams of Investigators. Single Investigator grants will be funded at $200,000/year for 3 years. Team grants including two or more PIs from different disciplines (teams can span partner institutions) will receive $300,000/year for 3 years. Each Investigator can only be listed on one application irrespective of whether it is a single-PI or team project. The level of funding includes indirect costs (8%). Eligible expenses include salaries and consumables; capital expenditures cannot exceed 10% of research costs and must be justified towards the goals of the project. This is guidance on how to utilize this award, no budgets are needed at the time of application.

Funded Investigators will be required to attend quarterly meetings in person at CZ Biohub Chicago. Quarterly meetings will provide opportunities to build collaborative efforts between partner universities and the Biohub, present progress from ongoing work, interact with external speakers.

Examples of Areas of Interest

  • Instrumented tissue model systems with embedded sensors and actuators that enable new measurements
  • Spatiotemporal studies of inflammation at the tissue level
  • Metabolomic and proteomic studies of immune cells and inflammation
  • Bioelectronic devices for measurement of inflammation and the function of the immune system
  • New sensor paradigms such as quantum sensors for measurement of biological activities related to inflammation in tissues
  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning-based approaches to studying inflammation
  • Computational biology related to inflammatory pathways and instrumented tissues
  • Development of new tissue models for the study of inflammation (e.g., using bottom-up self-assembly of organoids, or top-down construction using bioprinting techniques)
  • Enhancing understanding of biology of inflammation
  • Technology development related to function of the immune system and inflammation

Faculty at the partner institutions can visit CZ Biohub Chicago to learn more about ongoing work to identify synergies that align with the thematic focus of the Biohub. We will have an open house at the Biohub (virtual option available) on December 18, 2023 from 11 am – 1 pm. Please register or contact

Examples of projects that are less likely to be successful in this RFA:

  • A project that represents an extension of current work
  • A project that is solely focused on technology development without a biological focus;
  • A proposal for a research project to mine, publish, or analyze research results rather than a project that will support the biomedical research process itself;
  • A project with a narrow focus with incremental impact;
  • A project lacking a link to inflammation or the function of the immune system.

Budget and Use of Funds

Applicants can request funding between $200,000 for single Investigator applications and $300,000 for team Investigator applications total costs per year for three years. No budgets are required at the time of application.

Only team Investigator applications will require a budget proposal (to be submitted after awardees are notified). Budgets will be evaluated for appropriateness relative to the scope of work proposed.

Acceptable use of funds includes, but is not limited to:

  • Salary support for staff (full-time, part-time, or contract): graduate students, laboratory technicians, postdoctoral fellows, staff scientists
  • Operational needs such as core facilities services, materials for experiments


Eligible Investigators must have a faculty position at one of our partner institutions (Northwestern University, University of Chicago, or University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. For questions about eligibility for this award or the application process, please contact us in advance of the proposal deadline at

Application Materials

  • Applicant Questionnaire – education, institution, contact information
  • 3-page proposal (minimum 0.5” margins, 10 pt font or larger; sans serif fonts allowed) consisting of the following parts:
    • Introduction/Rationale
    • Proposed Research Plan (pilot data is not required for this award opportunity)
    • Potential for Impact
    • Optional: Link(s) to ongoing work at CZ Biohub Chicago
    • CV of PI(s) applying for the award (Maximum 2 pages; please include Personal Statement, Positions, Scientific Appointments, and Honors, plus Key Publications and Impact)

Key Dates

  • Application portal open: November 1, 2023
  • Proposal submissions due: 5 pm CST January 15, 2024
  • Award notification in April 2024
  • Award period and start date: Awards will be three years (36 months) in duration with an expected start date of June 2024.

Application Specifics

All applications must be submitted through the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Chicago online grants management portal. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with this portal well in advance of the submission deadline.

CZ Biohub Chicago uses SurveyMonkey Apply (SMApply) as its grants management portal. All applications must be submitted through this portal ( SMApply is configured to work best using the Google Chrome browser.

Task 1: Applicant Details (required) and (Optional) Equal Opportunity & Diversity. The information entered should be for the individual submitting the application who will act as the main person responsible for the application and as its point of contact. The applicant details are required for all single and team based applications.

  1. Name and email are auto-filled. To edit your name or email, please do so in your account information by clicking your name in the upper right corner and clicking “My Account” in the dropdown menu.
  2. Degrees of applicant
  3. Institution/Affiliation: Add your home institution and pertinent information of
    • Current departmental affiliation
    • Area of current field of work
    • Current title
  4. For single Investigator proposals select “No” for “Is this a collaborative proposal” question.
  5. For team Investigator proposals select “Yes” for “Is this a collaborative proposal” question.
    • The lead Investigator will need to click “Add Collaborators,” which is a button on the left-hand side of the screen. Upon doing so they can enter the email address of the collaborator they are adding, set the permissions of the user to “View & Edit” or “View Only” and provide an optional message to the collaborator.
    • Each Investigator on the application will complete Applicant details.

Task 2: Mark all tasks as complete.

Task 3: Submit your application: Once all required tasks are completed, click the green “Review & Submit” button. Note that once your application has been submitted, it cannot be edited.

  1. If the “Submit” button is grayed out, it means your application is not yet complete—check that all required fields are entered and you have clicked the “Mark as Complete” button within each task.
  2. Click the green “Submit Your Application” button on the left side of the window. Confirm your submission by clicking the “Submit” button in the pop up window.

Task 4: Once your application is submitted, you will receive an email confirming submission. If you do not receive a confirmation email within a few minutes, please check your spam folder. If you still did not receive your confirmation email, please email


For administrative and programmatic inquiries pertaining to this RFA or to obtain a copy of the webinar recording about this award, please contact

For technical assistance with SMApply, please contact, or while logged into SMApply, click on the information “i” link in the upper right corner and submit a help request ticket.