Interdisciplinary Research Leaders

Funding Agency:
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Interdisciplinary Research Leaders is a leadership development opportunity for teams of researchers and community partners, including community organizers and advocates. These teams use the power of applied research—informing and supporting critical work being done in communities—to accelerate that work and advance health and equity. Their innovation helps build a Culture of Health, one that enables everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives.

Over the course of the three-year program, fellows will:

  • Receive $25,000 per year for each team member ($75,000 over three years) to support time in the program (approximately one day per week).
  • Receive up to $125,000 in funding to support a team research project.
  • Develop high-level leadership skills through professional coaching, networking, and an advanced leadership curriculum, including at least one in-person gatherings (travel funded by the program), as well as virtual leadership development trainings and coursework.
  • Work on their project with their team and national program advisers.
  • Continue working in their home communities and applying new learnings in real time.
  • Receive mentoring from national experts in research, community action, health equity, public policy, and advocacy.

Deadline: May 4, 2022 

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

The focus of the 2022 IRL call for application (CFA) is structural racism and health. The aim for the new IRL cohort, beginning in November 2022, is to generate research useful for dismantling structural racism and improving health and health equity.

Each year, IRL organizes the CFA on a focus area to build cohort cohesiveness and to generate evidence for change. Achieving health equity through action-oriented research—especially for communities of color; those in low socioeconomic positions; and Indigenous populations—is a core value of the program. By action-oriented, we refer to research that examines and seeks to understand the delivery or impact of a policy, program, or other change on unequal distributions in population health. Within the broader area of structural racism and health, applicants are strongly encouraged to propose studies that reveal actionable solutions for improving the health of populations through public or private sector policies and/or programs. For the purposes of this CFA, IRL is only interested in proposed projects that address structural racism and provide actionable solutions, and not projects that document or describe individual experiences of racism.

Eligibility Requirements

For teams of three—two researchers and one community partner—interested in applied research to build a Culture of Health. Teams represent both health and non-health fields, and are cross-disciplinary when possible. Each team addresses one of our annual themes. Teams should incorporate multiple disciplines, including public policy, design, health, transportation, social work, education, urban planning, and many others. Team researchers must each have a terminal degree (PhD, MD, DrPH) or a master’s degree with evidence of extensive professional experience, including significant research and publications. Community partners must have community-oriented knowledge and relationships, and be interested in gaining research capacity to advance their work.

Funding Type





Community Outreach and Engagement
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Social Sciences

External Deadline

May 4, 2022