Jun 18, 2019 · 4 min read

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Launches New Funding Opportunity for Open Source Software Projects Essential to Science

Grants Will Support Software Projects that Accelerate Biomedical Research and Serve the Larger Scientific Community


REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. — Today, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) opened a new funding opportunity to support open source software projects that are essential to biomedical research.

CZI’s new Essential Open Source Software for Science Request for Applications (RFA) will provide one-year grants to support software maintenance, growth, development, and community engagement for critical open source tools. Whether it’s hiring an additional developer, improving documentation, addressing usability, improving compatibility, onboarding contributors, or convening a community, this program aims to help make the computational foundations of biological research more usable and robust. Read our Medium post to learn more.

“Open source software is more than just writing code,” said CZI Head of Science Cori Bargmann. “It includes improving documentation, addressing usability, managing projects, and building community. Giving scientists access to high-quality tools and technologies helps them do their work more efficiently and accelerates the process of discovery. We’re thrilled to support the open source software that scientists use each day as part of our commitment to supporting more open, inclusive science.”

Open source software is crucial to modern scientific research, advancing biology and medicine while providing reproducibility and transparency. Hundreds of software packages, libraries, and applications have become essential tools for research — so much so that many researchers could not continue their work without them. Despite its importance, a majority of research software is undervalued and lacks funding.

CZI supports several areas of basic science and technology with the goal of making it possible to cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of this century. This program aims to support software tools in service of this mission, and CZI will consider two broad categories of projects:

  • Domain-specific software for analyzing, visualizing, and otherwise working with the specific data types that arise in biomedical science (e.g., genomic sequences, microscopy images, and molecular structures); and
  • Foundational tools and infrastructure that enable a wide variety of downstream software across several domains of science and computational research (e.g. numerical computation, data structures, workflows, and reproducibility). Foundational tools must have demonstrated impact on some area(s) of biomedical research.

This RFA is the first of a series. CZI will invite applications during three distinct cycles, with rounds beginning June 18, 2019; December 2019; and June 2020. Applications can request funding between $50,000 and $250,000 total costs. CZI is soliciting applications for software projects that are essential to biomedical research, have demonstrated impact, and can show potential for continued improvement. Examples of potential uses of funds include, but are not limited to: salary support for staff; community engagement such as hackathons, sprints, or outreach; and operational needs such as cloud computing, storage, networking, or continuous integration services.

CZI staff will further support awarded projects by convening grantee meetings and helping connect open source software developers to scientists, including other CZI-funded grantees and members of the broader scientific community.

The first round of applications opens June 18, 2019 at 9 a.m. Pacific Time. For more information and application instructions, please visit CZI’s website. Applications must be submitted by August 1, 2019 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. For administrative and programmatic inquiries, technical assistance, or other questions pertaining to this RFA, please contact sciencegrants@chanzuckerberg.com.

About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit chanzuckerberg.com.

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