Science of Wellness Initiative FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT Science of Wellness Initiative (SWI) - Catalyst Seed Grant (CSG)

  1. What makes Notre Dame’s Science of Wellness initiative distinctive?
  2. What is different about this initiative?
  3. What is science of wellness not?
  4. Am I required to have a collaborator?
  5. Does my collaborator have to be from a different department or college?
  6. May I collaborate with researchers at other universities?
  7. Are foreign universities or labs eligible collaborators?
  8. Are sub-awards outside the United States allowed?
  9. Will proposals be evaluated through the lens of social justice and social inequity?
  10. Is there a limit on number of concept papers?
  11. What does novel mean in the proposal call?
  12. What is meant by potential for translation?
  13. What is the expected outcome of a proposed project?
  14. Is it a disadvantage to have discretionary funds?
  15. May PIs buy data with the funds?
  16. Is an external partner or data source required?

What makes Notre Dame’s Science of Wellness initiative distinctive?

The science of wellness is an emerging area with a great deal of potential. Notre Dame in particular is well-positioned to play a critical role in this new field, because the underlying goals align well with the University’s mission of being a “force for good” in the world. This mission is a decided competitive advantage over many of our peers, as is our deep connection to Catholic health systems, which provide healthcare for over 20% of the nation’s population. This alignment and mission, alongside the University’s areas of focus, will enable Notre Dame to make the initiative relevant and distinctive.

What is different about this initiative?

The Science of Wellness Initiative (SWI) is a truly campus-wide effort in which faculty have a central role in defining what we collectively mean by “science of wellness.” Moreover, because wellness is so multi-faceted, there is a genuine opportunity for all disciplines to participate, potentially in exciting cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Additionally, the two-page concept paper is a new approach for internal grants. Because the initiative is defining itself as it proceeds, and because it is explicitly envisioned as being a 360 degree effort, the grants task force is seeking all good ideas, not merely those that will receive funding through the program. For this reason, the task force settled on the two-page concept paper to encourage the greatest number of submissions from the broadest possible population of faculty. For this same reason, the task force has committed to providing feedback on concept papers and to work to find collaborators and opportunities for the proposals.

What is science of wellness not?

As stated above, the focus of the Notre Dame Science of Wellness Initiative is being developed in an iterative fashion. One purpose of the seed grant program is to identify promising areas of emphasis for the University. Proposers are encouraged to think broadly. While the construct of so-called “P4” health is useful, it should not be considered restrictive. Faculty are encouraged to use the P4 construct to contrast with traditional, curative medicine. This broad construct encompasses ideas such as personalized medicine, as well as radically different interpretations of wellness. All ideas on this continuum are welcome and encouraged.

Am I required to have a collaborator?

No. Collaborations are not required, but they may be an effective mechanism to extend existing research areas to better fit in the wellness domain. While the RFP indicates collaborations are preferred, this is not one of the primary criteria for selection.

Does my collaborator have to be from a different department or college?

It is not required, but encouraged if it is a natural fit for your project. If you have been looking for a mechanism to initiate or strengthen a cross-College / School collaboration, this may be a great avenue to do so. If the collaboration can emphasize the fit to the wellness theme, it will strengthen your proposal.

May I collaborate with researchers at other universities?

Yes. However, because the CSG is an internal grant program, internal funding may not be used to pay outside collaborators. If you would like to work on a project with external collaborators, please specify in your concept paper the funding or other resources that your non-Notre Dame collaborators will provide. You are also encouraged to explain the reasoning for working with these external collaborators. Among other reasons, this will be helpful to identify areas of weakness or strength at Notre Dame as well as potential, future hires. 

Are foreign universities or labs eligible collaborators?

As with non-Notre Dame collaborators, Notre Dame internal funds must be used at Notre Dame. However, if you have compelling reasons for working on this project with external collaborators - domestic or foreign - you are encouraged to submit a concept paper explaining your rationale and delineating the resources these external collaborators provide.

Are sub-awards outside the United States allowed?

These are not appropriate for internal grants.

Will proposals be evaluated through the lens of social justice and social inequity?

Yes, but it is not the only, nor a required, criterion. The task force welcomes proposals that seriously engage with those dimensions, particularly as this is a strength of the University. You are encouraged to think broadly about these issues and to submit proposals that address any facet of wellness in any discipline.

Is there a limit on number of concept papers?

No, PIs are welcome and encouraged to submit all good ideas.

What does novel mean in the proposal call?

There is an expectation that these will not be a rehash of existing projects or previous failed proposals. Proposals that build on earlier, existing work should clearly document advancement in the state-of-the-art.

What is meant by potential for translation?

You are encouraged to think broadly about the potential for translation. In general terms, your idea should have a potential outcome that will have an impact on end users, even if not in short term. These impacts could include clinical, educational, or basic advancements in relevant fields of knowledge.  

What is the expected outcome of a proposed project?

Proposers should define success themselves and describe how to achieve this success. Risk is not a problem in and of itself provided that your proposal demonstrates that the project is sound. Keep in mind that this is a seed program, intended to surface ideas and areas of strength for Notre Dame.

Is it a disadvantage to have discretionary funds?

No. The availability, or lack thereof, of discretionary funds will not be a factor in funding decisions for the seed grant program. The request for information relating to startup and discretionary funds is intended to provide a complete picture of what is happening and what resources are available. This information is useful, however, in demonstrating the support you have for your overall research program.

May PIs buy data with the funds?

Yes. Due to the relative size of the awards, however, you are encouraged to join consortia for data access and find ways to use seed funding as prudently as possible. 

Is an external partner or data source required?

No. However, it would be helpful for proposers to define the type of external partner (generically or by name) and/or what qualities/resources are being sought from them. This information would be valuable for the matching process both internally and externally. Please include any partnerships that you have identified in the concept paper.