Excellence in Research

UC Berkeley and the Science Philanthropy Alliance

UC Berkeley is deeply aligned with the mission of the Science Philanthropy Alliance and shares its strong belief in the abiding importance of basic science. From the invention of the cyclotron and other pioneering science across the decades to current groundbreaking work in genomic engineering, discovery-driven research is at the heart of our institutional enterprise.

We know from experience that the basic scientific research championed by the philanthropists and universities in the Science Philanthropy Alliance — the fundamental research that leads to the most significant breakthroughs — is as critical to the public good as it is to our country’s economic vitality.

Berkeley also shares the Alliance’s recognition that private philanthropy is coming to play an increasingly important role in supporting basic scientific research. We look forward to joining in its efforts to advocate with new and established philanthropists for sustaining such basic research.

We view participation in the Science Philanthropy Alliance as an opportunity to expand and deepen awareness of the importance of basic science across our institutional advancement effort, as well as to create ways for donors at any stage in their philanthropic development to support it.

  • Science Discovery Seed Fund to provide flexible support to early-career faculty for the initial stages of basic research. Many funders, including federal agencies, tend to focus on efforts that are already well-developed, leaving a gap in support for pursuit of promising new ideas. Seed funding focused on early-stage research would allow our most creative early-career faculty to explore these ideas; it would also enhance their ability to compete at later stages for federal and other large-scale grant opportunities. Awards might be $50,000 per year over a period of three to five years.
  • New Directions in Science Fund — Many of our mid-career faculty would like to change the focus of their research and apply their expertise, experience and research teams to new high-risk, high-reward basic research endeavors, often crossing disciplinary boundaries. However, without a proven track record in new territory, they may find it difficult to secure funding. This new fund would close the gap, providing awards of about $250,000 to selected faculty members.
  • Science Frontiers Fund — The most potentially transformational ideas frequently bring together teams of faculty and researchers from multiple fields in unanticipated combinations. This fund would provide flexible support for multi-disciplinary teams who are advancing the frontiers of knowledge by pursuing core scientific questions. Our experience suggests that — depending on the nature and stage of a project — teams of investigators can be catalyzed by a wide range of investments, from a $50,000 jump-start grant for an initial symposium, to a $1,000,000 multi-year award to support a sustained program of research.
  • Fund for Development of New Scientific Tools — Many of UC Berkeley’s most talented and path-breaking scientists have transformed what is possible by inventing new instrumentation and technology to advance their research — from the cyclotron in the 1930s, to current work on streamlined bioanalytic tools. The campus’s close proximity and partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory gives Berkeley a unique capacity in this regard. This fund would be devoted to support for developing new scientific tools that enable entire fields of study to advance. Awards might range from $50,000 one-time grants to more significant, multi-year support.

In addition, UC Berkeley is interested in attaining transformational support for efforts in different scientific fields through “institute-sized” investments that hold high promise to catalyze research and bring about transformative results.

If you wish to make a smaller contribution to support research at UC Berkeley, you may contribute funds to the Vice Chancellor for Research Discretionary Fund.


If you wish to learn more about these and other opportunities, please contact

Kaja Sehrt
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
University of California, Berkeley
119 California Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-1500
(510) 642-3633

More information about the Science Philanthropy Alliance is available here.