MSU Molecular Discovery Grant due Aug. 31

The Michigan State University Molecular Discovery Group (MSU-MDG) has been established in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology to provide pilot funding to accelerate the discovery and development of chemical technologies with applications for human health, animal health and agricultural use (max $30,000 average, $10,000-15,000).

Support of this program is from the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Fisheries and Wildlife, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Pediatrics, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Physiology, and Translational Science and Molecular Medicine and AgBioResearch as well as the College of Veterinary Medicine. Substantial matching funds from the Offie of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and MSU Technologies represent the largest fraction of these funds.

The primary aim of these funds is to advance projects toward extramural funding and/or to the creation or development of intellectual property and commercialization. Specific goals include: 

  • Assisting investigators in advancing their programs in the early phases of the discovery process with long-term commercialization in mind. 
  • Supporting early activities (e.g. screening) not readily funded by other sources. 
  • Providing additional data to support extramural grant applications. 
  • Aiding in the discovery or development of intellectual property. 
  • Accelerating small molecule discovery and development programs. 

At least 90% of the funds should be used to support work done in the MDG Core facilities (Assay Development and Drug Repurposing Core (ADDRC), Medicinal Chemistry Core, and/or In vivo Facility). 

 1. Examples of the specific types of projects that are envisioned include grants for: 

  • high throughput assay development
  • chemical tool/probe development for target validation 
  • the purchase of commercial compounds for early structure activity relations (SAR) analysis 
  • synthesis of analogs for more advanced SAR development 
  • re-synthesis/scale-up of small molecule hits and leads 
  • small molecule x-ray structures 
  • liver microsome drug stability and metabolism screening 
  • in vivo pharmacokinetics studies 
  • exploratory, non-GLP tolerance/toxicity studies 
  • in vivo efficacy testing of compounds

The budget (max $30,000) should limited to that sufficient to accomplish a specific step needed to advance the project. Investigators must obtain a formal quotation from the relevant core lab before preparing the budget. Allow sufficient time (1-2 weeks) for preparation of quotations. Special reagents or other materials needed within the PI’s lab may be purchased but no salaries are allowed. 

2. Eligibility 

  • All tenure-stream or fixed-term faculty members employed by Michigan State University are eligible to submit applications. 
  • A faculty member may be the PI on only one proposal per cycle. 
  • Co-investigators and collaborations are encouraged. 

3. Evaluation Criteria 

Successful applications will: 

  • Clearly outline the goal of the project.
  • Describe how the proposed concepts, approaches, and/or methodologies are novel. 
  • Provide a compelling scientific rationale for the approach chosen. 
  • Describe how the strategy and methodology are appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project including IP development and projected product profile (commercial requirements and endpoints) 
  • Consider the liabilities/risks and how they can be mitigated. 
  • Explain how the project utilizes the MSU core laboratories. 
  • Describe how success in the project will lead to research funding, produce intellectual property (IP), or advance commercialization of existing IP. 

4. Details of Proposal (5-page maximum - see application template document for details) 


  • Scientific background and significance
  • Target project profile (a detailed description of the primary commercial application, if applicable)
  • Key work to be completed 
  • Plan for future funding or commercialization 

application 5. Deadlines and submissions 

6. Review Process and Awards 

Proposals will be reviewed by a joint internal/external review panel representing expertise across multiple industries. All information in the proposal will be kept confidential. If a proposal is not accepted, the author(s) will receive feedback and will have the opportunity to resubmit in the future. The review process is anticipated to be complete within four to six weeks. Funded proposals should expect funds to be available within weeks of award. 


For budget quotations or information on the overall program, please contact the director (or staff) of the core that is most relevant to your project. If you are unsure, please contact Edmund Ellsworth below. 

MSU Assay Development and Drug Repurposing Core 
Tom Dexheimer, Director 
(517) 884-4998

MSU Medicinal Chemistry Core 
Edmund Ellsworth, Director 
(517) 353-7145 

MSU In Vivo Core 
Marc Bailie, Director 
(517) 432-7763  

8. Reporting 

  • Mid-term progress report (one-page) 
  • Final report due 12 months after award date summarizing accomplishments, outcomes, publications, and any submitted grants. Any publications supported by these pilot grants should cite “Supported by MSU-Molecular Discovery Grant (2017)” 
  • Reports submitted to