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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


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What is Research Lead?

Research Lead is a mission-driven for-profit company based on the principles of social entrepreneurship. We provide a service-based platform to connect sponsors and researchers in an effort to advance medical research that is socially-driven, meaningful, and high quality.

What kind of research does Research Lead support?

Research Lead supports only clinical or medical research that is socially or non-profit driven. This is generally considered investigator-initiated as opposed to industry-initiated research. Research must be conducted in humans (including human data or cells) and be aimed at improving health or reducing disease. We do not support any profit-driven research, including research to support applications for pharmaceutical or device approvals.

Does anyone review the studies?

Yes. Our Research Lead team is dedicated to supporting studies that align with our mission. We screen the credibility of the researchers, quality of the research, and basic eligibility. However, Research Lead does not determine which topics of medical research are worthy of funding. That is left up to sponsors using the platform.

What are the fees and how is this money used?

Research Lead would love to give all of the funding to the research. However, this platform connecting sponsors to researchers costs money. The 8% platform fee goes towards the following:


  • Website maintenance

  • Screening applications

  • Researcher recruitment & support

  • Marketing

  • Grant writing & allocation

  • Legal & accounting fees

All payments are also subject to a processing fee. This goes to an outside payment processing service and not to Research Lead.

Research Lead is continuously looking for new ways to advance meaningful medical research and make our platform better. If you have any ideas, we would love to hear them!

Is institutional overhead included in the studies?

Yes. Most institutions require overhead on research grants. This is the percentage of the money that will go to the affiliated non-profit institution to support the facility, resources, and administrative costs associated with conducting research. This is part of the research grant. The exact amount will vary with institution. We require researchers to include the institutional overhead in their proposed budget.


Because this is a philanthropy-based platform without profit interests, we require that institutions cap their indirect costs at a maximum of 15%. This applies to all institutions without exception. This indirect cost cap provides sufficient support for the grant process while allowing our charitable individual sponsors to be effective in their contributions. The adherence to a cap of costs at 15% should be clearly stated in the institutional letter of support provided with application. If your institution has questions regarding this requirement, you may email us at for further questions or support. 

Where does the Research Lead grant go?

The Research Lead grant is directed to the researcher’s affiliated institution. The grant will include the specific research study, milestone-based funding disbursement, and fundamental expectations of the researcher and proposed research as outlined in the study profile.

Can I contact you?

Yes! Visit our contact page or email us at 


We would love to help you with any questions or hear your thoughts on how we could improve our platform.


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Who can become a sponsor?

Anyone! For as little as $5, anyone can sponsor meaningful research and receive regular updates on study progress.

Do I get a refund if the study is cancelled?

We do not provide refunds on sponsorship. However, in the event a study is cancelled and funds are returned to Research Lead, sponsors will be notified by email and allocated a credit to their accounts which can be used towards any other research on the platform.

How does Research Lead know that my funding is going to the research?
  • Research Lead provides a grant which is a legally binding agreement with the researcher's institution and researcher to only use the funds for the research you supported. 

  • The grant is disbursed based on meeting study-specific milestones outlined by the researcher in the study profile.

  • The grant specifies that if the study is discontinued for any reason that remaining funds will be returned to Research Lead. You will then be notified and a credit will be provided to you that can be applied to other research on the platform.

Will I be able to know what happens in the studies?

Yes. We encourage our researchers to provide updates, so you can stay informed on the progress of the research you are supporting. The goal of research is to make discoveries and provide understanding that can be shared with the public in the form of publications and presentations. 

What currency do you accept?
At this time, we are only accepting funding in US dollars.


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Are there any costs to submit research on the platform?

There are no upfront costs to posting your research on Research Lead. You must include our 8% platform in your total budget. These fees will be applied at the time you reach your funding goal.

What are the criteria for posting research on the platform?
  • Research must be well-designed and supported by current scientific understanding and evidence

  • Research must be socially-driven and not for profit

  • Research must be medical or clinical research conducted on humans, human data, or human cells

  • Proposed budget for study must be both feasible and reasonable based on scope of the study

  • The researcher cannot have any notable conflicts of interest with the research

  • The researcher must have credentials and be in position to conduct research at an affiliated institution 

  • Affiliated institution must be non-profit

  • Researchers must agree to basic platform requirements for eligibility screening, platform use, and grant funding


A full summary of criteria and application requirements is listed on the research eligibility criteria page.

How does Research Lead define a qualified researcher?
  • Must be in position to conduct research at an affiliated non-profit institution 

  • Holds an advanced doctorate degree that signifies expertise in the area of research (usually MD or PhD)

  • Prior research or publications in field of study preferred but not required

Does Research Lead support student projects?

Research Lead does not support research that is led by students. However, if a qualified researcher is serving as principal investigator of the project, then the research may be eligible for posting on the platform.

How long does it take for projects to be reviewed?

We review applications on a rolling basis, so our review time will vary with application volume. Our preliminary screening process may take 2-4 weeks after all requirements are completed for application. In that time, our Research Lead experts may reach out for clarification or questions on your research. We also may suggest revisions to help improve clarity and understanding. Once your study has passed our preliminary review, you will be contacted for a virtual interview (approximately 30 minutes in duration).

How are studies funded?

Once your study has been approved and launched on the platform, the sponsors using our site will have the option to contribute towards funding your study.

How much do I have to share about my study?

You must complete certain required fields in order for your research to be approved by the platform including study description, budget, timeline, milestones, and study team. However, this is not expected to be a protocol and should be written at a level that can be understood by individual sponsors on our platform. You should provide sufficient depth to give us and your sponsors understanding and confidence in your research. 

How does a Research Lead grant work?

Once a study reaches the funding goal, you will be considered "funded". At this point, the Research Lead team will begin coordinating with your institution to allocate the grant to your research. 


The grant will be directed to your affiliated institution and an agreement will be required between the researcher, institution, and Research Lead on terms before funds can begin to be allocated. The funding will be disbursed according to the milestones you listed in your study profile and will be agreed upon prior to launching on the platform. 

What is a typical budget amount for launched research?

Clinical research is expensive. Typical budgets are between $5,000 and $500,000 depending on the scope of the research study. However, Research Lead supports any research over $1000.

Can I launch a study outside the United States?

At this time, Research Lead is only supporting research that is conducted at institutions within the United States. However, components of your research may be conducted in other countries as long as the research is supported by an institution in the United States.

What happens if I do not reach my funding goal by the funding date?

You will no longer be able to receive funding after reaching the funding goal date. If you did not reach your funding goal, the study will be cancelled with options to revise and reapply. Researchers will not receive any funds for studies which have not met the funding goals.

What can I do if my study does not reach its funding goal?

You have a few options if you do not reach your funding goal. Consider revising your study and/or project description to speak more clearly and effectively to sponsors on the platform regarding your research. You can then re-apply. Reach out to us as we may be able to help.


Otherwise, you may have research that does not speak meaningfully to sponsors on the platform and need to consider other forms of support.

Can I revise my study after it has been launched on the platform?

Sponsors using the platform support research based on the launched version of your study. For this reason, we only allow edits to the study after launching under certain conditions including typos, minor insignificant changes, and support personnel changes. You can contact us by visiting the contact page or emailing us at to help you with these changes. 


If your study requires a significant change, you will need to re-apply and sponsorship may be lost.

Can I receive more than my total budget in funding?

No. It is very important that you take time on your budget to make sure it reasonably covers all your study costs before the study is launched. You will not be able to revise your budget after that point. If at any time after launching you would like to change your budget, you will need to re-apply and prior sponsorship may be lost.


If you would like to conduct an extension of research previously funded by Research Lead, you can submit as a new study. If approved, you can launch to begin receiving funding and the study will be treated as a new grant.

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