Open Philanthropy Early-Career Funding for Global Catastrophic Biological Risks

This program aims to provide flexible support for a small group of people early in their careers to pursue work and study related to global catastrophic biological risks (GCBRs), events in which biological agents could lead to sudden, extraordinary, and widespread disaster. Our goal is to reduce risks to humanity’s long-run future, and this opportunity is aimed at people whose chief interest is GCBRs as they relate to the impact on the very long-run future.

The application window is now closed.


  • Funding may be requested for support of graduate programs or other projects aimed at reducing GCBRs.
  • The program is open to applicants in any country.
  • There is neither a maximum nor a minimum number of applications we intend to fund; rather, we intend to fund the applications that seem highly promising to us. However, our best guess is that we will fund a small number of applications.
  • Applications for this round are due October 15th, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, but we will review applications and make decisions on a rolling basis.

Goals: The goal of this program is to provide flexible support that empowers exceptional people early in their careers who are interested in averting potential global catastrophic biological risks, which we see as an important and neglected issue.

Dates: Applications are due October 15th, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. We may respond earlier to applications we receive earlier. Funding for new graduate programs will begin when the program begins. We will respond to all applications.

Funding criteria:

  • This opportunity is primarily aimed at people whose chief interest is in GCBRs as they relate to impact on the very long-run future.
  • The program is open to applicants in any country.
  • We will consider applications for funding for graduate programs as well as other research projects and relevant projects in the space.

Support for graduate programs:

  • Applicants may request full support, or partial support if their need is lower and/or their commitment to the area is more tentative.
  • Funding can be requested for Master’s and PhD programs. Other programs may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • People already enrolled in a graduate program can apply for support related to making their course of study more relevant to GCBRs. However, they will need to make a compelling case for the value of additional funding for facilitating GCBR-relevant work.
  • Applicants must explain how the programs they are pursuing will support their entry into career paths relevant to addressing global catastrophic biological risks (for example, in government, industry, academia, or think tanks). However, the program need not be explicitly GCBR-focused. (If it isn’t, the value of the program for work on GCBRs should be explained in the application materials.)

Application materials:

  • Proposal, no more than two pages. This should include a description of the projects or programs you are requesting funding for, how you see this contributing to your career progression in GCBRs, and a ½ page budget detailing the expenses you are requesting support for, and the level of support you need.
  • Personal statement, no more than two pages. This should describe your interest in this topic and motivations for applying, as well as your broader views about global catastrophic risks and related topics.
  • Academic transcript (undergrad and graduate, if applicable)
  • CV
  • GPA (undergrad and graduate, if applicable)
  • GRE scores (if you are applying to a graduate program)
  • Optional: links to previous projects, websites, or other online material
  • We may contact you to request additional information

Questions? Please contact