CDAC Data Science Discovery Grants

2019 Winter Cycle


2019 Winter Cycle Request for Proposals (RFP)

During the Winter 2019 cycle, we are pleased to invite proposals for two categories of awards:

  1. Collaborative research projects: early-stage research focused on data science methods, tools, or theory, executed by multidisciplinary teams from multiple departments/units.
  2. Exploratory convenings: workshops, invited speaker talks, working groups, or other convenings focused on novel, interdisciplinary, data-driven or computing research topics.

All proposals are expected to clearly articulate the research question or challenge motivating the research project or convening. Additionally, proposals must provide clear examples of the real-world impacts of the research project or convening. There is no restriction on the domain of study, however, proposals must include multidisciplinary teams that involve participants from two or more units (e.g. departments, divisions). Additionally, funding priority will be given to proposals that include a new collaboration or project that has not received previous funding support.

Proposal Categories

  Collaborative Research Projects Exploratory Convenings
Funding $50K – $100K up to $15K
Project Period 12 months 12 months
Goals Allow projects to collect pilot/ preliminary data, results or analysis that can lead to external collaborative grant applications (such as NIH R01). Provide planning support to facilitate the development of grant proposals or collaborative projects.

Successful projects will:

  • Be multidisciplinary, specifically where the collaborations between two or more departments, divisions, or units creates a more powerful research program than could be achieved alone.
  • Advance data-driven applications, models, algorithms, and platforms as is not already being done in your field today.
  • Result in novel research directions and/or new technology with real-world impact.
  • Have a plan for long-term sustainability and securing external funding.
  • Demonstrate that CDAC funding is required to advance the project.

Projects may focus on broad and cross-cutting themes such as, but not limited to, applications in:

  • Medicine and Health: Develop new methods to improve health and fight disease using data science, computational modeling, and machine learning.
  • Urban and Environment: Understand cities and the environment using data collection, integration, and novel sensing platforms, in order to inform decisions that impact communities and the world.
  • Missing Foundations of Data Science: Define and investigate fundamental concepts and theories that will provide a solid intellectual underpinning for the emerging field of data science.
  • Data Ethics: Investigate the ethical implications of data science and emerging technologies, its impact on humankind, security, and the generation of knowledge.


  • As part of the incubator program, research projects can apply for a limited amount of co-working space in the newly renovated John Crerar Library building, home to CDAC and the Department of Computer Science.
  • Co-working space will include a dedicated desk, storage space, mail/print/fax services, and access to conference rooms for conducting meetings and group activities.
  • Additionally, research award recipients may have the opportunity to receive assistance in developing customized, long-term plans for securing external funding in subsequent stages of the project.


  • A project’s primary investigator must have PI status at the University of Chicago. Please find more information about UChicago PI eligibility and policies here.
  • Proposals must include multidisciplinary teams that involve participants from two or more units (e.g. departments, divisions).
  • Current members of the CDAC Steering Committee are eligible to apply, provided that they recuse themselves during the review and voting on their proposal.

Review & Award Process 

  • Proposals will be reviewed by the CDAC Steering Committee.
  • Funded projects must submit a report narrative and final financial report within 30 days after the close of the project period.
  • Funded projects will provide updates on research outputs and impact metrics (such as publications, external funding secured, patents/licenses, conference presentations) through a short annual survey during the two years following the close of the project period.
  • For research projects, awardees will meet with the CDAC team to develop a customized, long-term plan for securing external funding within the first 6-months of the project period.


  • Call for Proposals: February 1, 2019
  • Application Deadline: February 28, 2019 at 11:59pm CT
  • Earliest project start date: April 1, 2019

Application Instructions

  • Proposals must be submitted using the UChicago Funding Portal. Detailed instructions and budget templates are provided as part of the submission process.
  • If you are visiting the portal for the first time, you will need to create a new account.
  • Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.
  • Sample Application Questions [pdf]
  • Sample Budget Template [Excel]

Application Requirements

  • Investigator Information (Profile Information, 1pg Biosketch)
  • Abstract (200 words max)
  • Research/Convening Plan (2 pages max, excluding references): Please describe your research/convening idea and why it is important, why this work requires collaboration, how this proposed work will be done and anticipated outcomes, and the specific funding opportunities or collaborative projects you will target should the project generate expected data, analysis or results.
  • Budget and Budget Narrative (a budget template is available for download).
  • Optional Supplementary Materials: Applicants may upload supplementary materials, such as references, diagrams, images.