• Training and Human Performance Research Grants

The COVID-19 global pandemic is presenting unprecedented challenges to global healthcare systems, care teams, and communities.  Because of this pandemic, the Intuitive Foundation has shifted our philanthropic focus to supporting providers and sourcing healthcare delivery supplies locally and globally.

For those who have the ability and interest to conduct research during this time, the Intuitive Foundation grant program is active and is accepting applications for grant funding to support Training and Human Performance Research Grants for Robotic-assisted Surgery in 2021-2022.

Overview: The purpose of these grants is to support training and human performance research in the field of surgery and robotic-assisted surgery. Successful proposals will address important questions about assessing intraoperative performance, accelerating skill acquisition while preserving patient safety, and maintaining skill proficiency of surgical team members. The Foundation also supports proposals that apply scalable technology to improve global access to surgical training. Grants will be awarded to researchers at non-profit institutions worldwide.

Awards are conferred on a competitive basis by submission of a grant application.

Available Grants:  Applicants may apply for grant funding up to $60,000 per project (US dollars, total costs).  The grant funding can be used to support salaries for statisticians, lab technicians, fellows, research coordinators and other support personnel, equipment, supplies and/or travel required to support the proposed research project for a period of up to one year. The grant funding may not be used to support physician salaries.

Research areas of interest

The Foundation has identified three key areas of interest for the 2021-2022 Training and Human Performance Research Grants. Principal Investigators are encouraged, although not required, to submit proposals that fall into one or more of the following areas:

Introducing robotic-assisted and computer-assisted technologies to surgeons, surgical teams, and surgical departments in ways that minimize disruption and maximize productivity.

    • Validating curricula that reduce the cost or time to progress through the learning curve for new technology.
    • Quantifying skill throughout the technical and clinical learning curves for surgeons and members of the surgical team, with a focus on applications of advanced analytics.
    • Identifying correlations between objective performance indicators of surgeon skill – as recorded in simulated environments and/or intraoperatively – and patient outcomes
    • Validation programs for maintenance of newly-learned skills, particularly for surgeons or team members whose procedure volumes are low.

Enhancing teamwork in the operating room.

    • Implementing surgical teamwork best practices in ways that are sustainable, reproducible, and scalable.
    • Helping Operating Room departments identify workflows and processes that improve patient care and operational efficiency.
    • Measuring and improving non-technical skills among surgical team members, especially in stressful situations.
    • Assessing ergonomics and cognitive load of surgical team members during robotic-assisted surgery to develop improved training and performance support approaches.

Addressing shortages of surgeons and surgical staff.

    • Extending the longevity of healthy and productive careers in the field of surgery.
    • Using innovative, scalable approaches to delivering surgical education in low and middle income countries where trainees have limited access to faculty and training materials.

At this time, the Training and Education Grants program is not focused on curriculum implementation for individual surgical residency programs in high income countries.

Application Guidelines

Selection Process: Applicants must first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to Propose as detailed below. Grant LOIs will be reviewed and ranked by an internal selection committee. LOIs reaching a predetermined scoring threshold will be invited to submit a full grant. All LOIs as well as invited full grant applications will be reviewed and scored on the following criteria:

  • Clarity of research goals and objectives
  • Novelty (building on existing literature)
  • Clinical relevance and value
  • Evidence of feasibility
  • Strength of evaluation methods and measures including statistical power analysis as appropriate
  • Availability of required resources
  • Appropriately defined research scope, timeline and budget

LOIs and full grant proposals will be handled in a confidential manner and will not be distributed beyond the grant selection committee at the Foundation. Due to the expected volume of proposals, we regret that the committee will not be able to provide detailed individualized feedback for unsuccessful proposals.

LOI Guidelines: A LOI to propose should be submitted by all grant applicants. Submissions should consist of 5 parts:

  • Summary: one or two sentence proposal overview.
  • Description of Problem/Background
  • Purpose, Hypothesis and Methods of Research
  • Capabilities: Indicate the identities, capabilities and credentials of investigators as well as any participating institutions. Include contact information for principal investigator.
  • Budget: Include a specific request for funds that includes permanent hard equipment, statistical analyses, consumable equipment, salaries to staff and other direct expenses. No more than 20% of the total budget can be allocated for indirect costs.
    • Hard equipment purchases should not exceed $5,000.
    • The budget should not include salaries for physicians, although salaries for statisticians, lab technicians, fellows and other support personnel may be included.

Deadlines for All Training and Education Research Grants:

Grant Cycle for Funding in January 2021:

  • Interested applicants should submit a LOI by June 12, 2020. Invitations to submit full grant applications will be sent by July 27, 2020 (this invitation will include grant application guidelines and forms).
  • The deadline for submitting a full, invited grant application is September 18, 2020. Only complete application packets will be considered. Awardees will be notified by November 16, 2020. Grant monies must be used to support research expenses during the 2021 calendar year.

Grant Cycle for Funding in July 2021 – June 2022:

  • Interested applicants should submit a Letter of Intent by January 8, 2021. Invitations to submit full grant applications will be sent by the week of February 15, 2021 (this invitation will include grant application guidelines and forms).
  • The deadline for submitting a full, invited grant application is April 2, 2021. Only complete application packets will be considered. Awardees will be notified by the week of June 7, 2021. Grant monies must be used to support research expenses during the 2021-2022 calendar year.
  • Multiple grants will not be funded simultaneously to any principal investigator.
  • Multiple grants to the same institution for different principal investigators will be considered.
  • Awards must be used to fund research at not-for-profit institutions. Grants are not to be used to fund for-profit activities.
  • Grants are awarded to principal investigators at their institution. If there are any changes in the principal investigator or group’s ability to conduct the proposed research, the Foundation reserves the right to reconsider the award.
  • Grant monies and loaned equipment must be used to support research expenses and activities, which occur from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022 only.
  • Total costs may include no more than 20% indirect costs and the total budget, including both direct costs, indirect costs and any applicable taxes, should not exceed $60,000 USD.
  • Grantees will be invited to present their work at our headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA (travel costs covered by Intuitive Foundation).
  • All applicants selected to receive a grant are required to submit a mid-year progress report, as well as a final status report that details study results and conclusions.
  • If the funded project does not take place, all monies awarded will be refunded to the Intuitive Foundation. If the project is terminated early, then a partial refund, with an accounting of the funds expended up to the termination date, will be provided by the Principal Investigator. Any unused funds as of December 31, 2022, will be refunded to the Intuitive Foundation.

Please email grants@intuitive-foundation.org with questions regarding the grant process.