Seed Funding

The Enhancing Health Executive Committee recently concluded the fourth cycle of seed funding under the University Strategic Plan. 

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost is making funds available through seed grants to fund pilot projects that support the University’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, Our Commitment to Impact. Current Penn State faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to work with the appropriate Strategic Plan Steering Committees to develop initiative proposals. Information on the overarching funding philosophy behind Penn State’s strategic initiatives can be found on our Strategic Initiative Funding Philosophy page.

Previous grant cycles:

  • Cycle 4, Spring 2019
  • Cycle 3, Fall 2018
  • Cycle 2, Spring 2018
  • Cycle 1, Fall 2017

Awarded Seed Grants - Enhancing Health

Cycle 4

Title: Penn State Cohort Study: to Promote High-Impact Research, Student Engagement, and Health
Supports: Enhancing Health, Cycle 4
Project Leads: Stephanie Lanza, Professor; Director, Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, Biobehavioral Health, College of Health and Human Development

  • Gregory Fosco, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies; Associate Director, Prevention Research Center, College of Health and Human Development
  • Hobart Cleveland, Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, College of Health and Human Development
  • Sue Grigson, Professor, Neural and Behavioral Sciences; Director, Penn State Addiction Center for Translation
  • Molly Hall, Assistant Professor of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences
  • Max Crowley, Director, Administrative Data Accelerator; Co-Chair, SSRI Integrated Data Systems task force
  • Tracey Huston, Vice President for Outreach
  • Rick Brazier, Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses
  • Carey McDougall, Chief Academic Officer, Academic Affairs, Penn State Beaver
  • Glenn Sterner, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice, Penn State Abington
  • Jason Whitney, Director, Collegiate Recovery Group

Overview:  Substance abuse is a leading national problem, with young adults at high risk. We aim to develop a University resource that investigates biobehavioral underpinnings of student substance abuse across the Commonwealth. It will inform needed services, provide engaged learning opportunities, connect with Commonwealth faculty, and catalyze high-impact, interdisciplinary research.

Cycle 3

Title: Pennsylvania Population Network
Supports: Enhancing Health, Cycle 3
Project Leads: Jennifer Elyse Glick, Hoffman Professor of Sociology and Director of Population Research Institute, Department of Sociology and Criminology

  • Sue Copella, Director, Pennsylvania State Data Center, Penn State Harrisburg
  • Jennifer Shultz, Research Project Manager, Pennsylvania State Data Center, Penn State Harrisburg

Overview:  The Pennsylvania Population Network (PPN) is designed as a visible program of demographic and health research, application and outreach. The goal is to leverage existing resources to provide analyses and training focused on the role of population dynamics for health and well-being across diverse groups and geographies.


Title: Stimulating Partnerships Among Researchers and Clinicians (SPARC): Proposal for a Clinical-Research Exchange Fellowship
Supports: Enhancing Health, Cycle 3
Project Leads: Sarah Bronson, Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Research, Cellular & Molecular Physiology, College of Medicine

  • Leslie Parent, Professor – Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, College of Medicine
  • Andrew Read, Evan Pugh Professor – Biology, Entomology, Eberly Professor – Biotechnology, Eberly College of Science
  • Susannah Gal, Professor – Biology, Associate Dean of Research and Outreach, Penn State Harrisburg
  • Lawrence Sinoway, Distinguished Professor – Medicine, Director, Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI)
  • Lorah Dorn, Professor – Nursing, Pediatrics, College of Nursing
  • Susan McHale, Distinguished Professor – Human Development and Family Studies, Demography, Director, SSRI, Social Sciences Research Institute
  • Chris Rahn, J. ‘Lee’ Everett Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Associate Dean for Innovation, College of Engineering

Overview:  This Initiative will establish a fellowship program to stimulate partnerships among clinicians and researchers, bridging interests, resources and expertise at different ends of the bedside-to-bench continuum. The interdisciplinary collaborations resulting from this program will be a powerful way to address unmet medical needs, simultaneously expanding biomedical research at Penn State.

Cycle 2

Title: Lion Pulse: Networking Employee and Student Wellness Initiatives
Supports: Enhancing Health, Cycle 2
Project Leads: Jennifer Kraschnewski, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, and Stakeholder Advisory Board members:

  • Deborah Tregea, Campus Wellness Coordinator, Penn State Health
  • Daniel George, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities, Penn State College of Medicine
  • Kathryn Schmitz, PhD MPH MEd, Professor of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine
  • Wenke Hwang, PhD, Director, Master of Public Health Program, Associate Professor, Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine
  • Leslie Walker-Harding, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Penn State College of Medicine
  • Susanne Marder, Fitness and Wellness Director, Mini Tab
  • Lidija Petrovic-Dovat, MD, Chair, Penn State Hershey Commission for Women, Assistant Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Erin Velazquez, American Heart Association
  • Joan Humphrey, College of Nursing
  • Adrienne Bruner, Human Resources, Penn State Health
  • Jennifer Sarff, Penn State Health Human Resources Department, Director of Total Rewards Benefits Program
  • Representatives from Student Organizations (including Exercise is Medicine and Food as Medicine Student-led Groups at Hershey and University Park)

Overview: Healthier work and learning environments and promotion of wellness programming are critical to population health efforts. Therefore, this institution-wide initiative aims to revive employee and student health programming across Penn State and create a national exemplar and positive influence on University faculty, staff, students and communities Penn State serves. It proposes creating a network of Health Champions across Penn State University and providing technical assistance to implement evidence-based wellness policies and practices within departments. Programs that are well-received within one campus should be disseminated to all 24 campuses. The creation of Lion Pulse, a wellness network with facilitated oversight will help attract and retain top employees and students. Further, resources developed can be disseminated beyond Penn State to community members and organizations to truly  impact population health across the Commonwealth.

Cycle 1

Title: Enhancing Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Cancer Research Activity Across Penn State Campuses
Supports: Enhancing Health,  Cycle 1
Project Lead: Andrew D. Patterson,  Associate Professor of Molecular Toxicology, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Scientific Director of Metabolomics
Overview: This initiative aims to develop and implement a postdoctoral scholars program for the Penn State Cancer Institute (PSCI) members at University Park, Hershey, and other University campuses. The program is designed to be truly interdisciplinary and cross-cutting by bringing together laboratories from different disciplines and that share the common goal toward better understanding and treating cancer. The program is designed to foster greater, more productive, and long-term interactions between diversely focused laboratories (e.g., basic and clinical research, demographic and metabolism research, social science and basic scientists) that might not be achieved through short-term, focused projects funded by traditional seed grant mechanisms. The postdoctoral scholars will serve as the bridge between the two laboratories and simultaneously receive cross-training in the laboratory’s major research areas.


Title: Integrated Data Systems Solutions for Health Equity
Supports: Enhancing Health,  Cycle 1
Project Lead: Susan McHale, Director of the Social Science Research Institute and Co-Director of the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Overview: Pennsylvania collects an array of administrative data from its residents that bear on health and health care. Most of these data reside at the state-level in public agencies. Although collected at a substantial cost to taxpayers, these data are not often used to guide public policy and investments. They also tend to be siloed within collecting agencies whose capacity is limited to basic data management and descriptive analyses. The goal of this initiative is to develop the capacity to access and link administrative data for inferential and predictive analysis to advance understanding of health disparities and provide direction for public policy in the Commonwealth.


Title: On Campus Ambulatory Intensive Care (AIC) to Improve the Health and Wellness of Penn State Employees and Adult Beneficiaries with Chronic Illnesses
Supports: Enhancing Health,  Cycle 1
Project Lead: Dennis P. Scanlon, Distinguished Professor, Health Policy & Administration, and Director of the Center for Health Care and Policy Research
Overview: This initiative involves a unique partnership between five University Park (UP) area Penn State Health ambulatory health care clinics (PSH clinics) and the UP Employee Health and Wellness Center (EHWC) to identify overweight or obese patients with or at high risk for chronic disease and provide integrative intensive care management as part of an ambulatory intensive care (AIC) unit modeled after similar programs. Providers and their patients will have ongoing access to planned EHWC care management resources, such as education, coaching, and counseling diet, exercise, and patient well-being. In addition, the AIC intervention will incorporate intensive care management program components previously shown to be critical, including personal invitations from providers; an ongoing, close collaboration between physicians, care management specialists and lifestyle interventionists; coordinated medical care to address patients’ personal needs; and tailored care for unique patient populations.