Investigator Initiated Research Program

This program supports doctoral-level researchers who focus on applied projects designed to improve the quality, cost and accessibility of health care. It's our hope that projects funded under this program will result in the creation of a manuscript suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.

The award offers up to $75,000 per grant.

The BCBSM Foundation is interested in innovative and evidence-based research grants that address urgent health issues, health inequities, social determinants of health and healthcare access, quality and cost.

How to apply

Potential grantees are required to submit a concept form (PDF) to for feedback before submitting a full proposal. 

Concept papers should be submitted at least 60 days before the application deadlines listed below. It is through the concept paper submission process that we learn more about the goals of your program.

Senior Program Officers review concept papers throughout the year as the first step in the BCBSM Foundation grant process. If your organization is under consideration, you'll be asked to submit a full proposal. A Senior Program Officer will provide instructions on how to submit a proposal package. 


We accept applications from primary investigators with medical or doctoral-level credentials based in hospitals, universities and health care systems.

Applicants must be based in Michigan and their organizations must be non-profit.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employees and their immediate family members are ineligible. Employees of any BCBSM affiliate and their immediate family members also are ineligible.


We accept concept papers at any time. However, if you're targeting a specific grant deadline, the concept paper must be received by that date. If your organization is asked to submit a full grant proposal, it will be reviewed at one of our three board meetings. See our table for upcoming deadlines and review dates. All deadlines end at 11:59 p.m. After the application is reviewed at our board meeting, applicants will receive an email with the funding decision within 10 business days.

Deadline guidelines
Concept paper deadline: Applications accepted until: Applications reviewed:
Nov. 14, 2022 Jan. 11, 2023
April 19, 2023
Feb. 13, 2023
April 12, 2023
July 26, 2023
June 5, 2023 Aug. 2, 2023 Nov. 15, 2023

We'll email applicants a funding decision within 10 business days of our board meetings.

Proposal requirements

A complete proposal includes:

A narrative (approximately 2,000-4,500 words) that include the following sections: 

  • Background
  • Hypothesis(es)
  • Significance of research
  • Innovation of research
  • Research design and methods
  • Expected outcomes
  • Addressing health equity and social determinants of health
  • Addressing cost, quality, and access to healthcare
  • Conclusion
  • Signed Terms and Conditions of the Grant
  • Detailed budget and budget justification documents (not included in the word limit), including:
    • Funds requested, anticipated or provided by other sources for the same or similar project must be described in detail on an attached sheet and referenced in a cover letter.
    • The Foundation does not pay for indirect costs except for limited fringe benefits, including health, person and/or medical benefits. The allowable fringe benefit expense may not exceed the lesser of 25 percent of the salary subtotal figure or the actual cost of the fringe benefits.
    • The Foundation does not pay for tuition expenses or continuing education units for the PI, project staff, or students.
    • The following are not supported by this funding program: computer equipment, including hardware and software; one-time use consumables, such as medical and office supplies; furnishings; and capital expenses, such as phone, rent, building insurance.
    • Conference travel is limited to $1,000.
  • Project Timeline
  • If applicable, figures and tables
  • Biosketch/CV of the Principal Investigator(s) and other key personnel
  • If applicable, documentation that the proposed project has met institutional requirements for research involving human subjects