Pioneering Ideas and a Culture of Health
The goal of the Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal funding opportunity is to explore; to look into the future and put health first as we design for changes in how we live, learn, work and play; to wade into uncharted territory in order to better understand what new trends, opportunities and breakthrough ideas can enable everyone in America to live the healthiest life possible.
While improving the status quo is vital to the health and well-being of millions of Americans now, the Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal opportunity reaches beyond incremental changes to explore the ideas and trends that will influence the trajectory and future of health. Ultimately, we support work that will help us learn what a Culture of Health can look like—and how we can get there.
What is a Pioneering Idea?
Good question! We don’t want to provide a checklist that limits your thinking—or ours. We do want to give you as clear a picture as we can about the kinds of proposals we hope to see, so you can best assess whether submitting an idea through our Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal process is the right next step for you. Our application form allows you to introduce your idea; if it seems to be a fit for our portfolio we will reach out for more information.
We share some examples below of Pioneering Ideas we have funded in the past to give you a sense of where we’ve been. Keep in mind that ultimately, we need you to challenge us, and to tell us where we should be going and what ideas have the most potential to transform the way we think about health. As you review the examples below, you may notice some shared themes or characteristics which:
- Challenge assumptions or long-held cultural practices.
- Take an existing idea and give it a new spin—or a novel application.
- Offer a new take or perspective on a long-running, perplexing problem.
- Apply cutting-edge ideas from other fields to health.
- Explore the potential for emerging trends to impact our ability to build a Culture of Health.
While the Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal is an open call for ideas, from time to time we may also feature opportunities related to specific topics we are interested in exploring. Learn more about our current featured topics below.
Reinventing Discovery (submit by 9/1/2016)
Health and medical research drives discovery, development and delivery of new diagnostics and technologies. However, it is often slow, opaque and does not include experiences and insights from practitioners, people and communities. Through strides in health information technology, Big Data and social media, we believe there is a growing opportunity to change stakeholder engagement in and the organization of biomedical research.
We are interested in producing more rapid, responsive and relevant research—and believe that new models, which are open, collaborative and inclusive of patient/consumer/citizen input, can help us get there. We are looking for projects that pilot or use tools which help to share data and promote open science, and also emphasize the value of patient and citizen engagement to health and medical discovery.
For this specific area of exploration, we are not seeking to support the development of new platforms, projects to advance interoperability of health information technology, or biomedical research experiments. Projects can include, but are not limited to:
- Patient and consumer engagement activities, including tools and processes that enable consumers and patients to help frame or refine research questions, with a focus on equity
- Development and assessment of approaches to return results to patients and consumers
- Development of inclusive governance models and models of sustainability
We have funded several projects that are challenging the status quo in biomedical research, including:
- Sage Bionetworks’ BRIDGE, a cloud-based collaborative science platform that leverages patient data and wisdom
- The CureAccelerator open participation research platform from Cures Within Reach
- Personal Genome’s “Open Humans” project—a network which enables individuals to donate their personal health data to researchers
- A “white label” or customizable version of Genetic Alliance’s Platform for Engaging Everyone Responsibly (PEER), which allows individuals to share their health information with health researchers and each other
Dollar amount/duration: We are seeking to fund projects not to exceed $250,000 over 12-18 months.
Time period: Please submit your ideas for Reinventing Discovery by Sept 1, 2016.
In the “project summary” section of your application, be sure to note you’re submitting an idea for Reinventing Discovery.
The Future of Work (submit by 9/15/2016)
The way that we work is rapidly changing...again. There has always been an iterative relationship between technology, society, employment and health—we saw it with the rise and fall of jobs related to the industrial revolution and with the introduction of digital technologies like the internet and e-mail. Issues like job security, economic stability, work-life balance and the role of the employer mean very different things now than they did 50 years ago. What will the changes we’re seeing now mean for work in the next 50 years, and what effects will they have on our health?
Through this exploration, we are particularly interested in gaining a better understanding of ways that shifts in our economy and workforce might affect our health and health care, and the types of benefit alternatives, support systems and services that workers may need to live the healthiest life possible. Projects might explore questions including, but not limited to:
- The role of the single employer as central to the lives and benefits of workers is fading. What is the alternative?
- How might changes in the roles of employers and a corresponding rise in freelance, self-employment, part time or "gig" employment affect health coverage and costs in a post-Affordable Care Act era?
- How might changes to traditional benefit providers and structures impact family caregivers, new parents or retirees?
- How will the rise of automation impact vulnerable workers—specifically those working in manual labor, the service sector and non-technical jobs?
- What do changes to our work mean for (in)equality and what are the implications for health equity?
- How might an extended and irregular workday impact an individual’s ability to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods and consistently commit time to their overall health and the health and wellness of their families?
- How will future economies impact an individual’s, family’s or community’s ability to align work with adult or child care?
Dollar amount/duration: There is no set dollar amount or duration for projects funded in this area.
Time period: Please submit your ideas for the Future of Work by September 15, 2016.
In the “project summary” section of your application, be sure to note you’re submitting an idea for Future of Work.
Pioneering Ideas: Recent Projects
I have a Pioneering Idea. How do I share it with you?
- Visit the general FAQs about applying for a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to understand basic requirements for receiving a grant and to learn more about the funding process.
- Review this set of FAQs for Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal for more information on this specific funding opportunity and what happens once we receive your proposal.
- Before you begin your application, you can preview a blank application to understand the kind of information and level of detail required at this stage.
- All grant proposals submitted to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—including the Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal—must be completed online. Begin the application process by submitting your brief proposal through the online application:
- If you already have a MyRWJF profile, click here to log in. Once you log in, you will see the “Apply” button.
- If you do not have a MyRWJF profile, get started by clicking here. Once you have created your profile and have logged in, you will see the “Apply” button.
In the "project summary" section of your proposal, be sure to note if you're submitting a general idea, or responding to one of our featured call for ideas topics (Reinventing Discovery or Future of Work).
We look forward to learning about your Pioneering Idea.
RWJF's Lori Melichar discusses how we find innovative ways to meet our nation's health challenges.
Submit your pioneering idea proposal to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Explore More Pioneering Ideas
Pioneering Ideas is a podcast for people interested in exploring cutting-edge ideas and emerging trends. We seek to inspire new thinking, spark “aha! moments” and cultivate rich, ongoing conversations. Join us each episode as we talk with visionary thinkers in and outside of health care and discover together new ways to build a Culture of Health.
What's Next Health is an RWJF speaker series that brings new perspectives and fresh thinking to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) staff and external audiences by engaging leading visionaries at the forefront of trends and ideas that could have significant impact on the work of RWJF and its grantees.