Frequently Asked Questions

Ono Initiative Awards Program

Awards will consist of 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 grant for three-year research would be up to $1,035,000.

The purpose of the Ono Initiative is to support scientist Principal Investigators (“PIs”) with creative ideas in selected scientific research field, Chemical Biology, with the mission of seeking discoveries/solutions and development of high impact science. 

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 established scientists.
  • Build strong relationships within the community in order to lead to transformative research aligned with Ono Initiative's interest.

Each Award may last three years.


If an Institution is interested in becoming a nominating Institute, they should email No submission materials are needed to be considered. At the end of each Initiative cycle, the Ono Initiative Scientific Advisory Board meets to determine the list of Institutions to invite.

A PI is eligible if when they submit their LOI they have 15 years or below of experience from starting independent academic position. When selected, if an awarded PI has a little over 15 years of experience – they are still eligible. The PI is not eligible if when applying to the Ono Initiative they have over 15 years of experience.

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. If an institution nominates a PI that has applied within the past 3 years, the PI is ineligible. The institution will be contacted and asked to select a PI who has not applied in the past 3 years. If a returning PI applies for the same project to be funded that they originally applied with, they will be notified and asked to submit a proposal for a different project assuming the application deadline has not already passed.

The Oligonucleotide Medicine Research field has been merged with Chemical Biology. The selection process has been simplified for the modalities. The reason is because Chemical biology is a comprehensive research category that includes Oligonucleotide Medicine. PIs research in Oligonucleotide Medicine are still eligible for the 2022 Ono Initiative but must compete with the other PIs working with Chemical Biology.

Applicants/PIs are expected to:

  • Design studies to generate novel science to address the Scientific Research Area of interest for 2023: 
    • Chemical Biology
      • Target research of Chemical Biology is not specified by the Ono Initiative.
      • 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.
  • Complete the two-step application process which is: (i) submission of a Letter of Interest, and (ii) if selected, to submit a full Proposal within the time designated by the Ono Pharma Foundation.

Only parental leave will be considered when calculating eligibility as “mid-career” scientist.  

2023 Applicant Nominating Institutions in Chemical Biology Research *

  1. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 
  2. Boston College
  3. California Institute of Technology
  4. Columbia University
  5. Cornell University
  6. Duke University
  7. Emory University
  8. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute
  9. Georgia Institute of Technology 
  10. Harvard University
  11. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  12. McGill University 
  13. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  14. Michigan State University
  15. Northeastern University
  16. Northwestern University
  17. Oregon Health and Science University
  18. Princeton University
  19. Rice University
  20. Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  21. Southern Illinois University
  22. Stanford University
  23. The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT
  24. The Rockefeller University
  25. The Scripps Research Institute
  26. The University of Chicago
  27. The University of Texas – Austin
  28. The University of Texas – Southwestern Medical Center 
  29. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  30. The University of Utah
  31. University of Alberta
  32. University of British Columbia 
  33. University of California – Berkeley
  34. University of California – Davis
  35. University of California – Irvine
  36. University of California – Los Angeles
  37. University of California – San Diego
  38. University of California – San Francisco
  39. University of Colorado – Boulder
  40. University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign
  41. University of Massachusetts – Amherst
  42. University of Massachusetts – Medical School
  43. University of Michigan
  44. University of Minnesota
  45. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  46. University of Pittsburgh
  47. University of Washington
  48. University of Wisconsin – Madison
  49. Vanderbilt University
  50. Weill Cornell Medicine
  51. Whitehead Institute
  52. Yale University

*Each Nominating Institution may nominate up to two (2) applicants in Chemical Biology Research. 

Applicants must meet the following requirements. Letter of Interest (LOI) and final Proposals from applicants not meeting the requirements listed below will not be considered.

  • 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 prior findings of the PI.

Chemical biology is vital to important for the transformation of human health. Through studying biological systems at the chemical level, chemical biology helps answer biological questions and elucidate mechanisms of disorder, leading to the discovery and development of treatments for diseases. We do not limit the definition of chemical biology as the application of small molecules.  You can leverage the high-impact and transformative research with a flexible hand.


 The Ono Pharma Foundation will make announcements about LOI selections and send Request for Proposals (“RFP”) to selected PI/Applicants on April 21, 2023. RFPs will be made based on:

  • Eligibility of Applicant
  • Completion of Research Requirements
  • Strength of proposed project against Selection 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

The application processes for the scientific research is: 

  • LOI in Chemical Biology Research: PIs should first contact the administration office of their Institution. Institutions will be asked to nominate PIs, but only the PI may submit LOIs and Proposals. An LOI should be submitted through the Ono Pharma Foundation online portal. To access the website, please click on the link below, select “Submit a Request,” and follow the online instructions. If this is your first time visiting the portal, you will be sent your login information within 24 hours of submitting your “Registration.” Proposal submission by LOI applicants and selected by a Scientific Advisory Board will be invited by the Ono Pharma Foundation to submit a full Proposal. The Proposal must be submitted through the Ono Pharma Foundation Portal. Please access the Application Portal on Ono Pharma Foundation website.
  • More detail as to the application process can be found in the “Ono Pharma Breakthrough Science Initiative Awards Program: Program Information & Overviewdocument.

Please see below for link to the Ono Pharma Foundation application portal:


Step Timeline Responsible Party
Funding Opportunity Program Announcement November 18, 2022 Ono Pharma Foundation
LOI submission open November 18, 2022 Ono Pharma Foundation
LOI submission due date February 15, 2023, 5pm ET * PI/Institution
RFPs sent out April 21, 2023 Ono Pharma Foundation
Proposal due date
May 17, 2023, 5pm ET *
Announcement of the Awards July 13, 2023 Ono Pharma Foundation
Project Start August - October, 2023 PI

*Addenda, supplemental materials, changes, or updates will not be accepted after the deadline for submitting either the LOI or the Proposal.


Three Awards are planned for 2022, contingent upon Ono Pharma Foundation appropriations and the submission of sufficient meritorious applications.

The members of the SAB are selected by the Ono Pharma Foundation based upon their expertise and reputation in the field of Chemical Biology.

The Ono Pharma Foundation selects all Awardees based upon recommendations of its Scientific Advisory Board (“SAB”), which is comprised of outside experts from the fields of Chemical Biology.


The parties intend and agree that, to the extent allowable by U.S. intellectual property law, all intellectual property rights related to activities and research funded by the Grant shall be exclusively owned by Institution. The Foundation disclaims any intellectual property and related rights developed by the research activities supported by the grant.

Ono Pharmaceutical Co.,Ltd. is a leading global healthcare company committee to delivering new, innovative drugs to patients, and championing the fight against disease and pain, together with research, patients, their families, and healthcare providers. Ono Pharmaceutical Co.,Ltd. of Osaka, Japan is fully integrated, research based pharmaceutical company which traces its origins back over 300 years. In 1717, in Doshomachi, Osaka, Ichibei Fushimiya first opened the apothecary that would eventually become Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Since then, the company has been dedicated to developing innovative and breakthrough pharmaceutical products. The company’s scientists have driven drug discovery through the adoption of world-leading technologies and knowledge. 300 years after Ichibei Fushimiya opened his apothecary. Ono Pharma USA, Inc. a fully owned subsidiary based in Cambridge, MA founded the independent Ono Pharma Foundation. The Foundation is a continuation of Ono’s commitment to scientific innovation and drug discovery.

Formed in 1980, TCC Group provides strategic planning, program development, evaluation, and management consulting services to foundations, nonprofit organizations, corporate community involvement programs, and government agencies. Its consulting staff includes individuals with wide-ranging expertise and experience in a diverse range of issues including education, arts and culture, community and economic development, human services, health care, children and family issues, and environment. TCC Group is providing ongoing support for the Ono Pharma Foundation.