The Ono Initiative

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 2023-2024 the Ono Pharma Foundation will only consider proposals for scientific research addressing Chemical Biology research

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.


Evaluation Criteria

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

Scientific merit


Applications will be evaluated based on the scientific merit of the research proposal.

Relevant to our mission


Applications will be evaluated based on their relevance to Ono Pharma Foundation’s mission: significance, innovation and approach.

Technical Considerations


Applications will be judged on their consideration and understanding of the technology required for completion.



Principle Investigators will need to prove their relevant experience and qualifications.

Research Environment


Evidence will need to be provided of a suitable environment to conduct study.


Applicants must meet the following requirements. LOIs and final Proposals from applicants not meeting the requirements listed below will not be considered.

  1. PIs applying must be working at one of the nominating institutions. Nominating institutions might be replaced or added to in subsequent years. 
  2. The PI must have an MD and/or a PhD degree.
  3. The PI must be a new applicant to the Ono Initiative, or, if they are a returning applicant, must be applying for a project different from the one they previously proposed.
  4. The PI must be a young and/or mid-career scientist (15 years or below of experience from starting independent academic position).
  5. The PI may not already be engaged in other sponsored research with Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and/or grant program with Ono Pharma Foundation.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. PIs serving on a healthcare formulary or similar committee are not eligible.
  • As a US private foundation, Ono Pharma Foundation grants to Canadian institutions are conditioned on an equivalency determination by the Foundation. This may require additional documentation and information from the institution outside of the application process.
Scientific research


The timetable for both steps of the Application Process is outlined below in detail.

How to apply

Letter of Interest

LOI: 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.

An LOI submission must include the following information:

  1. Contact Information
  2. Abstract – no more than 150 words. The abstract should provide a brief description of the PI’s project’s goal(s).
  3. Vision of the Proposed Research – one page single-spaced 12pt font. CV and reference list do not contribute to word/page limit. Figures may be included but should not exceed an additional two pages. If there is a figure that best explains your project, please indicate which one. This will help our Scientific Advisory Board as they review.
  4. Curriculum vitae (“CV”)
    • The CV may not exceed five pages
    • NIH Biosketch format is preferred. The new format extends the page limit for the biosketch from four to five pages, and allows researchers to describe up to five of their most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed their research. Investigators can outline the central findings of prior work and the influence of those findings on the investigator’s field.
    • The CV must disclose all grants or awards currently received or pending which would be relevant to the Proposed Research.


PIs invited to submit a full Proposal will receive instructions via email and in the Ono Pharma Foundation portal.

The Proposal – in response to the RFP – must include the following information:

  1. A detailed Research Plan (no more than seven pages), including:
    • Background on the area(s) of research and key gaps in our understanding of the field or important challenges to be addressed.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Itemized PI budget for the Proposal – not part of the Proposal page/word limit
    • If needed, the prior CV can be updated
  2. Other research, describing overlap with Ono Initiative

Ready to Submit?

Open Portal

Frequently Asked Questions

The Ono Initiative supports creative research conducted by emerging Chemical Biologists in search of new discoveries, solutions, and the 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.

All grants awarded by Ono Pharma Foundation have a three year term.

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 an additional 15% ($45,000) per year to be used for indirect costs of the PI’s institution. In total, Ono Pharma Foundation’s three-year research awards provide up to $1,035,000 to researchers and their institutions.

Three Awards are planned for 2024, contingent upon Ono Pharma Foundation appropriations and the submission of sufficient meritorious applications.

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.

2024 Applicant Nominating Institutions in Chemical Biology Research *

  1. Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  2. Baylor College of Medicine
  3. Boston College
  4. California Institute of Technology
  5. Carnegie Mellon University
  6. Columbia University
  7. Cornell University
  8. Duke University
  9. Emory University
  10. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute
  11. Georgia Institute of Technology
  12. Harvard University
  13. Huntington Medical Research Institutes
  14. Johns Hopkins University
  15. Kennesaw State University
  16. Louisiana State University
  17. Loyola University Chicago
  18. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  19. McGill University
  20. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  21. Michigan State University
  22. Northeastern University
  23. Northwestern University
  24. Ontario Tech University
  25. Oregon Health and Science University
  26. Princeton University
  27. Rice University
  28. Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  29. Stanford University
  30. The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT
  31. The Rockefeller University
  32. The Scripps Research Institute
  33. The University of Chicago
  34. The University of Texas – Austin
  35. The University of Texas – Southwestern Medical Center
  36. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  37. The University of Utah
  38. University of Alberta
  39. University of British Columbia
  40. University of California – Berkeley
  41. University of California – Davis
  42. University of California – Irvine
  43. University of California – Los Angeles
  44. University of California – San Diego
  45. University of California – San Francisco
  46. University of California – Santa Barbara
  47. University of Colorado – Boulder
  48. University of Florida
  49. University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign
  50. University of Massachusetts – Amherst
  51. University of Massachusetts – Medical School
  52. University of Michigan
  53. University of Minnesota
  54. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  55. University of Notre Dame
  56. University of Pittsburgh
  57. University of Toronto
  58. University of Virginia
  59. University of Washington
  60. University of Wisconsin – Madison
  61. Wayne State University
  62. Vanderbilt University
  63. Virginia Commonwealth University
  64. Weill Cornell Medicine
  65. Whitehead Institute
  66. Yale University

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