2023 Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grant Program

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The University of Tennessee (UT) One Health Initiative (OHI) announces the 2023 call for proposals for the Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grant Program. This program offers internal funds to support and grow collaborative, One Health-related research projects across the UT system. The goal of the program is to create multidisciplinary synergies among faculty, staff, students, and external collaborators that embrace a One Health* approach to investigations.


The 2023 program is made possible through partnerships with the UT College of Veterinary Medicine Center of Excellence, UT Humanities Center, National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), and the Tennessee RiverLine. The program will distribute four awards that foster/stimulate cross-cutting research, education, or outreach efforts tackling complex issues involving animal, plant, human and environmental health and requiring a One Health approach. These might include real-time monitoring, advanced data analytic methods, and/or multi-scale mathematical modeling.

Applicants will specify which grant they’d like to be considered for in the application process (under the “Proposal Details” section). The specific requirements set by each partnering agency are outlined below:

UT College of Veterinary Medicine Center of Excellence:

  • Proposals should promote interdisciplinary activities designed to:
  • Improve the quality of human life through advances in animal health.
  • Expand livestock disease research in the Institute of Agriculture.
  • Identify and characterize animal diseases that are similar to human diseases.
  • Develop new strategies for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

UT Humanities Center:

  • Special consideration given to proposals promoting interdisciplinary research involving medical, environmental, digital, or energy humanities, though all topics under the One Health umbrella will be considered.
  • Projects must include a PI/Co-PI from the arts and humanities departments in the College of Arts and Sciences.


  • Proposals should be new collaborations or should be a new addition of math or modeling to an existing collaboration.

Tennessee RiverLine:

  • Proposals should directly engage at least one of four main ecosystem health threats posed to the Tennessee River: aquatic invasive species, water quality, microplastics, and shoreline erosion.
  • Preference will be given to proposals that include one or more PI/Co-PI from the College of Architecture and Design or Sustainable Landscape Design (Department of Plant Sciences) to uphold design and design thinking as a guiding principle of the Tennessee RiverLine.
  • Preference will be given to proposals whose deliverables include innovative strategies for the public’s engagement with and/or interpretation of research outcomes in a manner that is aligned with the Tennessee RiverLine’s thesis to inspire new generations of river stewards by overcoming barriers to river spaces and experiences.

In addition to the particular requirements set by each partnering agency listed above, all awards are expected to:

  • Support pilot transdisciplinary research endeavors that acquire novel data, as well as projects with a link to One Health education or outreach initiatives.
  • Lead to publications and increase the team’s likelihood of acquiring new external funding.
  • Include transdisciplinary collaborations between two or more UT colleges or affiliates.
  • Generate at least one proposal submission to an external funder no later than six months after the seed award end date.
  • To satisfy this deliverable, the seed award team members must jointly submit a proposal to an external funder (e.g., NIH, USDA, State of Tennessee, American Cancer Society), and the lead submitting institution must be UT or UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA).
  • Examples of proposals that do not satisfy this deliverable include proposals submitted to other internal University of Tennessee funding sources (e.g., One UT, Science Alliance, UT Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, any other UT seed opportunity) or subawards on another institution’s submission (i.e., not led by UT or UTIA).
  • Seed proposals that commit to pursue external funding targets with budgets of $500,000 or more are strongly encouraged.

Preference will be given to studies conducted on one of the UT AgResearch and Education Centers or similar UT stakeholder property, when applicable. Proposals that include modeling work are encouraged to partner with NIMBioS.

Proposals are due by 11:59 (Eastern) PM on September 8, 2023.


Proposals are invited from all UT system faculty. Each proposal must have one PI and either an additional PI or one or more co-PIs, together representing two or more UT colleges or affiliates.

The PIs and co-PIs must:

  • Be UT system faculty or research scientists, including tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-track.
  • Be eligible to apply for external funding.
  • Serve as lead PI on no more than one 2023 Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grant application.

External Collaborations

Eligible applicants are encouraged to collaborate with faculty from other higher education institutions, researchers from ORNL, state agencies, or researchers from corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). However, the OHI funding can only be allocated to UT department(s). If any external collaborators are involved, the roles of each must be clearly articulated in the proposal. Proposals should demonstrate how each contributor’s research is integrated to accomplish the research objectives and how the collaboration is important in the context of One Health.

Budget and Project Duration

Period of Performance: Projects will have from October 1, 2023, to September 30, 2024 to complete the project.

Award Amount: Maximum total budget of up to $40,000. Four grants are expected to be awarded.

Use of Funds

Funds may be used for activities directly related to the research: salaries and benefits for research trainees (students, postdocs), research supplies, equipment/facility recharge, some travel, etc. Travel to federal agencies and proposer workshops is strongly encouraged and is likely to help obtain further external funding. Funds will be available soon after awards to a PI’s new budget account created by the business manager of the affiliated department. Allocation of funds to the Co-PI’s account can be arranged and should be clearly presented in the budget template (see Primary and Co-PI budget worksheets).

Funds may NOT be used for faculty salary, course buyouts, administrative staff, seminar speakers, or conferences. Consultant costs may be considered. No indirect costs (or F&A) will be allowed. All funds must be expended by the end of the project period unless an extension is approved by the OHI leadership team.


The internal proposal submittal deadline is 11:59 PM (Eastern) September 8, 2023. The estimated date for notice of award is September 29, 2023, and projects will have a start date of October 1, 2023.

Application Instructions

Applications will be processed online through InfoReady: https://tennessee.infoready4.com/#competitionDetail/1903402. If you have any questions about the application process or the seed program, please contact Alyssa Merka (amerka@utk.edu).

Review Criteria

Proposal reviews will be conducted by UT system faculty members who will be identified by the OHI leadership team. Deans, Directors, or Department Heads of the PI and Co-PIs may also be asked for input on the importance of the project for their college or department. Evaluations will be based on these criteria (see rubric for how each is weighted):

  • Merit and Significance: Does this project promote research and training in One Health? Will it broaden the horizon for future One Health research? Is this a One Health question or problem for Tennessee? Is a collaboration between multiple UT campuses/units involved?
  • Feasibility and Approach: Are the proposed research plans, methods, and analyses appropriate? Will the methods and analyses achieve the objectives of the project? Are adequate resources (expertise, tools, equipment) included in the proposal?
  • Innovation and Differentiators: Does the project leverage new theories, tools, or applications to advance the field of One Health? Will the project shift the current paradigm in the field of One Health? Are technical or intellectual innovations included in the proposal?
  • External Funding Strategy: Does the project align with the funder identified? Is it reasonable to expect that, in addition to alignment, funds will be available in the future (i.e. targeted program is not sunsetting and is of continued interest to the funder)? Is the PI viable from the target funder’s perspective? Is there potential alignment with other funders not mentioned in the proposal?

OHI Participation, Progress Tracking, and Reporting

Awardees are expected to participate in OHI activities, including a seminar series, for the duration of their funding and up to three years post-funding. Awardees will be expected to deliver at least one OHI-sponsored presentation on their study to the UT and/or community-wide audience.

Awardees are expected to submit at least one external proposal based on the research six months from the end of the project. Awardees are expected to provide monthly updates to the OHI for updating website information (all awardees will be featured on the OHI website). Awardees must submit a brief progress report (template to be provided) to OHI leadership team at the end of the first year and a final project report within 60 days of the award period end. The final report should include the results of the research, new funding targets identified during the process, efforts underway to obtain external funding, and efforts to generate publications. Also, the PI of the funded project will be asked to submit brief follow-up reports annually for three years regarding extramural funding, publications, and relevant training/outreach activities.

Additionally, awardees may be asked for similar presentations and reports by the respective partnering agency.

Project timeline:

Activity Date(s)

Announce 2023 Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grant ProgramMay 15, 2023
Proposal dueSeptember 8, 2023
Proposal reviewSeptember 11-22, 2023
Administrative proposal review and final approvalSeptember 25-29, 2023
Award notices issuedSeptember 29, 2023
Program datesOctober 1, 2023 – September 30, 2024

*One Health Definition

In 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Organization for Animal Health, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the World Health Organization established an advisory body, the One Health High Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP). They produced the following definition of One Health:

“One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals, and ecosystems. It recognizes the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and inter-dependent.

“The approach mobilizes multiple sectors, disciplines, and communities at varying levels of society to work together to foster well-being and tackle threats to health and ecosystems, while addressing the collective need for clean water, energy and air, safe and nutritious food, taking action on climate change, and contributing to sustainable development.”