Ono Pharma Breakthrough Science Initiative Award FOA and FAQs

Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity.

Program Summary

Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. is a leading global healthcare company committed to delivering new, innovative pharmaceutical products to patients and championing the fight against disease and pain. Ono Pharmaceutical carries out these goals in cooperation with researchers, patients, their families, and healthcare providers.

The Ono Pharma Foundation was established to support academic research in relevant scientific fields, which have the potential of making significant impact on therapeutic approaches to disease and pain management. The Foundation’s competitive awards program, the Ono Pharma Breakthrough Science Initiative Awards Program (“Ono Initiative”), is the embodiment of the Foundation’s commitment to focus on and accelerate researcher-driven open innovation by supporting high-risk and high-reward science research projects which have potential to lead to science discoveries/solutions and, possibly, based on further research, to breakthrough treatments for patients.

The goals of the Ono Initiative are to:

  • Identify and develop innovative research proposals and results that could lead to the development of breakthrough treatment solutions for patients.
  • Support academic research and the career development of promising young and mid-career scientists.
  • Build strong relationships within the community in order to lead to transformative research aligned with the Ono Initiative's goals.

Annually, the Ono Pharma Foundation considers proposals from PIs for research that could ultimately transform human health. Although additional areas of research may be added in future years, in 2024 the Ono Pharma Foundation will only consider proposals for scientific research projects addressing the following field of science:

  • Chemical Biology Research: Target research of Chemical Biology is not specified. Chemical Biology is defined as research that deals with the interface between chemistry and biology. The criteria for this field are deliberately broad so as not to disqualify potentially innovative and groundbreaking projects.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MT January 29, 2024

Sponsor Letter of Intent Deadline: 3:00pm MT February 15, 2024

Sponsor Invited Proposal Deadline: 3:00pm MT May 9, 2024

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • PI Curriculum Vitae (in NIH biosketch format, 5 pages maximum): The CV must disclose all grants or awards currently received or pending which would be relevant to the proposed research.
  • Research Plan (3 pages maximum): Please include the following:
    1. Background on the area(s) of research and key gaps in our understanding of the field or important challenges to be addressed.
    2. Recent progress by the PI, focusing on the past five years. Do not repeat material adequately covered in the prior CV or Biosketch. Do not include a Publication List. Only include references as needed from the CV.
    3. Overview of the Research Proposal. This should be a description of the key questions or challenges the PI plans to address and the general strategies. A detailed experimental plan is not expected. The proposed direction of the PI’s scientific project will be considered in the review process. If new opportunities or directions arise during the course of the research, the PI will have the flexibility to change course and pursue them. If such a development should occur, the PI should be in touch promptly with the Ono Pharma Foundation.
  • Budget Overview (1 page maximum): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit: https://cuboulderovcr.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/6939/home


  • PIs applying must be working at one of the nominating institutions. Nominating institutions might be replaced or added to in subsequent years.
  • The PI must have an MD and/or a PhD degree.
  • The PI must be a new applicant to the Ono Initiative, or, if they are returning, have applied over three years ago for a project different from the one they are currently proposing.
  • The PI must be a young and/or mid-career scientist (15 years or below of experience from starting independent academic position).
  • The PI may not already be engaged in other sponsored research with Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and/or grant program with Ono Pharma Foundation.
  • The PI may not apply for funding to amplify current work. However, PIs may research a new idea based on a prior finding of the PI.
  • The PI must not be a healthcare professional (defined as individuals currently holding an active state license for which they are (a) qualified to prescribe, administer, use or supply any medicinal or medical products or (b) perform any professional clinical services). A PI with an MD but without an active state medical license is still eligible.
  • PIs serving on a healthcare formulary or similar committee are not eligible.

Limited Submission Guidelines

CU Boulder is invited to nominate up to two (2) applicants in Chemical Biology Research.

Award Information

Applications comprising laboratory investigation will be considered. Project duration may last up to three years with annual funding of $300,000/year, totaling a maximum of $900,000 for the normal term of a research project.

The Ono Pharma Foundation will provide up to a maximum of an additional 15% ($45,000) per year of the funding to be used for indirect costs of the PI’s institution. The total amount of the three-year grant would be up to $1,035,000.

Review Criteria

Applications will be assessed, and Awards will be made based upon the following criteria:

  • Scientific merit of the research Proposal
  • Relevance of proposed research to the mission of the Ono Initiative
    • Significance
    • Innovation
    • Approach
  • Technical considerations for the research
  • Qualifications and relevant experience of the PI
  • Evidence of a suitable research environment