Program Description & Guidelines

Our Innovator Awards Program for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) research provides $100,000 grants for a one-year proof of principle research project. Letters of Inquiry are accepted online January 15 – February 15, annually.

Special Request for LOIs: The Foundation is offering a special Innovator Award in 2015 to a project(s) that investigates the impact of diet and nutrition on IBD in people. The LOI submission and selection process is the same as the Innovator Awards process.

The Foundation supports research projects that are potentially transformative to diagnosing, treating and curing Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The Program is open to tenure track professors (or the equivalent) at all levels from any scientific discipline and from any non-profit research institutions worldwide. Interdisciplinary collaboration is strongly encouraged. Funding criteria include:

  • Innovation
  • Scientific merit
  • Strong evidence of collaboration
  • Investigator capability to execute project

We fund projects that, due to their innovative nature, may not be eligible for funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other more traditional sources.


The Foundation funds organizations that are exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code and are classified as “not a private foundation” under Section 509(a). The Foundation may upon occasion make grants to government and public agencies, as well as to independent projects that have a qualified tax-exempt fiscal sponsor.

The Foundation does not fund:

  • Direct assistance to individuals or individual sponsorships
  • Non-profit entities not located and operating primarily in the United States (except for medical research)
  • Start-up organizations
  • Sports, athletic events or league sponsorships
  • Advertising or promotional sponsorships
  • Deficits or retroactive funding
  • Fraternal organizations
  • Organizations that discriminate based on religion, race, sexual orientation or gender

Application Process

Applying for an Innovator Award is a two-step process.

1) All applicants must submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI). LOIs are accepted online January 15 – February 15, annually. The one page online application includes the basic idea and the central experiment. The LOI template and questions are not available outside of the LOI timeframe. A NIH formatted bio-sketch is also required.

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation received an extremely high number of Letters of Inquiry for the Innovator Awards this Spring. A select number of applicants were invited to submit full proposals. All selected applicants have been notified at this time.

2) The Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) will determine which applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal. Applicant selection will primarily be based on the project’s  alignment with the Foundation’s Innovator Awards Program criteria. Full online applications, which consist of an expanded LOI (three pages of science) and a one page budget, are due by April 30 by 11:59 PST, annually. Applications are initially reviewed by our SAB. Based on the SAB’s recommendations, final selections will be made by the Foundation’s Board in July and announced in August of each program year.

Please review our FAQs before starting the application process.

Please direct questions about the Innovator Awards to Health Program Staff.