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.

We encourage potential grantees to submit a concept paper (PDF) to for feedback before submitting a full proposal.

In an effort to enhance our impact on the health of Michigan residents, the BCBSM Foundation desires to focus research grants on the following topics. Grant applications on the following areas will be given preference for awards:

  • Hypertension
  • Major depression
  • High cholesterol
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Alcohol Use Disorder
  • Other Substance Use Disorder
  • Psychotic disorder
  • Crohn’s Disease/Ulcerative Colitis


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 nonprofit.

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 applications at any time. However, we review applications three times per year at our board meetings.

Deadline guidelines
Applications accepted until: Applications reviewed:
Jan. 6, 2020
April 15, 2020
April 13, 2020
July 22, 2020
Aug. 10, 2020 Nov. 18, 2020

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

Proposal requirements

We review grant applications for the following criteria:

  • How much the project addresses health care concerns that affect Michigan residents. Applicants must document the significance of the problem, the anticipated effect of the project and the potential for widespread adoption of the results.
  • The extent to which the proposed project contributes to new knowledge
  • The technical quality of the application including:
    • Clarity of the presentation
    • Description of proposed research methods
    • How well the applicant explains the problem
    • Suitability of proposed methods for research
    • Quality and availability of the data to be used

Application instructions

An application must include the following items:

  • Completed application form (PDF)
  • Signed terms and conditions (PDF)
  • Detailed budget with justifications, including:
    • Funds requested, anticipated or provided by other sources for the same or similar project proposes must be described in detail on an attached sheet and referenced in a cover letter. 
    • The Foundation does not pay for indirect costs with the exception of limited fringe 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. Fringe benefits include health, person and/or medical benefits.
    • The following are not supported by this funding program: computer equipment, including hardware and software, unless they are directly related to the aim of the proposed project. Other costs that are ineligible include capital expenses.
    • Conference travel is limited to $1,000.
  • Project Timeline
  • If applicable, figures and tables
  • Brief bio sketch/CV of the Principal Investigators and other key personnel
  • If applicable, statement affirming the applicant has met institutional requirements for research involving human subjects

Completed applications should be emailed to