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 the Ono Pharma Foundation will only consider proposals for scientific research projects addressing the following field of science:


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.


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 a MD and/or a PhD degree.
  3. 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.
  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.
  • 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.
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Evaluation Criteria

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


Will be evaluated based on its scientific merit of the research proposal.


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


Proposals will be judged on its consideration and understanding of the technology required for completion.


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


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


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 – no more than 800 words - roughly one and a half pages when formatted. 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:

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


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.

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.

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