Blue Sky research grant

22 July 2011

A $100,000 seed-funding grant for scientific or medical research is being offered for the first time by the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund which is based at the University of Sydney.

The inaugural, BlueSky Research Grant, will provide one year of funding to the successful applicant(s) commencing in January 2012.

The Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund's key objectives are to promote scientific research and co-operative work between the University of Sydney and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the grant will give preference to a joint project between scientists of the University of Sydney and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund has worked for more than 30 years supporting medical & scientific research. To achieve these ends the Fund has provided grants to individual scientific research projects and established a number of initiatives. These include, The Alzheimer's Disease and Inflammation Initiative, the SZCUF Prize for Discovery in Medical Research, the SZCUF HU Medical Elective Fellowship, the SZCUF Alzheimer's Disease Research Grant.

The Fund has also provided grants to the University of Sydney's Bosch Institute to support their 4 joint infrastructure facilities for Molecular Biology, Cytometry, Animal Behaviour and Oxidative Stress Bioanalysis.

Through these programs the Fund has come to see the enormous benefits that can be achieved by providing seed-funding to new projects which need to prove themselves to get a foot-in-the-door with larger funding bodies.

Managing Trustee of the Fund, Professor Jonathan Stone said:

"So many of our most valued scientific discoveries are based on what were once thought to be blue-sky, fanciful and not commercially-viable ideas. They came to life only through the perseverance of the scientists who conceived them and the gamble taken by a forward thinking backer willing to provide the funds to bring the project to a level where its potential became more apparent.

"In establishing this grant, the Trustees hope to provide such an opportunity. We look forward to receiving imaginative proposals with good scientific rationale and potential to make a significant innovative advance in human health."

The SZCUF was established in 1978 by the late John Hammond, a Sydney businessman who understood the value of supporting research in the fight to alleviate human suffering. Prof Stone says, "The Trustees of the Fund feel, this project is very much in keeping with Mr Hammond's original vision for the Fund. We believe some very exciting outcomes could lie ahead which John would be proud to be a part of."The initiative is supported by a special donation from the John Hammond Trust."

Dr Karen Cullen a past recipient of SZCUF funding for her groundbreaking research in the field of Alzheimer's disease has said of this support, "Because of the resistance to the ideas (of my work) in the early years, this work could not have been easily funded by large government agencies and therefore support from private funds has been invaluable. The work has now been recognized as significant and paradigm-shifting."