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SPARC: Catalytic Funding for Novel Collaborative Projects

A primary goal of the Broad Institute is to make it possible for investigators to undertake new projects and approaches that tackle key challenges in biology, chemistry, and medicine. One mechanism to catalyze such initiatives is through the strategic investment of the Broad's discretionary resources. Toward this end, a process has been established to consider project proposals from the Broad community. Proposals are reviewed by the Scientific Projects to Accelerate Research and Collaboration committee (SPARC), currently chaired by Todd Golub and including Broad Core and Associate Members and Platform Directors.


The overall goal of the SPARC program is to catalyze new research directions.  This may take many forms, including

  • creating new capabilities (technologies or experimental approaches) of broad interest to the Broad community
  • creating new communities and collaborations by bringing to together investigators across Boston/Cambridge to tackle important problems together and/or by bringing new scientific perspectives into the Broad community
  • creating scientific resources (data or reagents) of broad interest to the Broad community
  • pursuing transformative science that addresses major hurdles for the field

Successful SPARC proposals are likely to be those that i) push the institute in a new direction, ii) facilitate new collaborative interactions, iii) benefit the scientific community broadly via catalytic science, and/or iv) have a measurable outcome. In addition, the intention is to fund projects that could not be readily funded by other mechanisms because they would be viewed as too risky or lacking in preliminary data.


All Core Members, Senior Associate Members, Associate Members and Broad staff scientists with PI status are allowed to apply for SPARC funding. Staff Scientists without PI status may apply for PI status specifically for a particular SPARC proposal submission, but this process must be initiated and completed prior to consideration of the SPARC proposal by the SPARC committee. For more information, please contact Stacey Donnelly (Director, Sponsored Research,

Funds Available

Most SPARC grants are expected to be modest in size (< $100,000 direct costs for one year). Larger proposals (in general, up to $500,000) will also be entertained for more complex projects.

Submitting a SPARC Proposal

Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss potential SPARC applications with Program members and relevant Platform staff. Additional questions can be directed to either Todd Golub (SPARC chair,, or Alex Burgin (Sr. Scientific Adviser to CSO,

Proposals with a budget of $100,000 or less require a 2-page application not including references.

Proposals with a budget > $100,000 require a 5-page application not including references.

Completed applications should be sent electronically to by the deadlines listed below.

2014 Application Deadlines and Review

Applications will be reviewed on a quarterly basis, with review and notification occurring within one month of the application deadline.

January 1
April 1
July 1
October 1

If the date is a weekend or a holiday, the deadline is the next business day.