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CZI Neurodegeneration Challenge Network RFAs

Stanford Neurosciences Institute, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Funding Sponsor: 
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Contact Email: 
sciencegrants@chanzuckerberg.com
Funding Deadline: 
April 17, 2018 - 5:00 pm
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Request for proposals: 
Neurodegeneration Challenge Network RFAs:
Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards $2.5M
CZI Collaborative Science Awards $1.05M
 
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative invites applications to join the CZI Neurodegeneration Challenge Network, an interdisciplinary collaborative initiative to increase understanding of the fundamental biology of neurodegenerative disorders. 
 
# of applicants permitted: unlimited
Important note: applicants may only apply to ONE of the two RFAs.
 
RFAs: applications are being accepted for two funding mechanisms:
 
CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards: 
Amount of funding: $500,000 total costs per year for five years, for a total of $2.5M (including up to 15% indirect costs).
These are five-year investigator grants for early career academic investigators, with an emphasis on those who are new to the field of neurodegeneration. We seek to empower early career investigators to pursue bold ideas and to take risks within a supportive and collaborative environment. Awardees will benefit from mentorship support, as well as professional development, training and networking opportunities, and practical career guidance to help them navigate this early stage of their careers. It is with great pleasure that we name this Award in memory of Dr. Ben Barres (more info). Through his research career and his life and humanity, Ben embodied both the spirit and the scientific aims of this Award and the Challenge Network approach. (See timeline, eligibility, guidelines & website links below.)
 
CZI Collaborative Science Awards:
Amount of funding: $350,000 total costs per year for three years, for a total of $1.05M (including up to 15% indirect costs).
These are three-year grants for small group interdisciplinary collaborations. These grants are aimed to support innovative, bold, high risk/high impact projects at the interface of basic and disease biology. The scope of these collaborations should focus on foundational science (as opposed to translation and clinical application), aligned with clinical context. At least one member of the collaboration should be a physician with active clinical engagement in an area relevant to the proposal. (See timeline, eligibility, guidelines & website links below.)
 
TIMELINES:
 
CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards Timeline:
  • April 10, 2018: Institutional representative (RPM/RMG or CGO/OSR) deadline
  • April 17, 2018: Applications due by 5 pm PT 
  • August 2018: Notification of invitation to interview
  • Sept 10-13, 2018: Interviews in the Bay Area (applicants must be available to attend in-person)
  • October 2018: Earliest notification of decisions (subject to change)
  • December 2018:  Earliest start date of award period (subject to change)
 
Finalists for the Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards who are invited for an interview will be notified in early August, but as the interview dates are firm, we request that all applicants hold September 10-13, 2018 for the interview period. 
 
CZI Collaborative Science Awards Timeline:
  • April 3, 2018: Letters of Intent due by 5 pm PT 
  • May 2018: Earliest notification for invitation to submit full applications
  • If invited to submit a full proposal-notify your Research Process Manager (RPM in RMG) asap so he/she can begin to build your budget: 
  • June 14, 2018: Institutional representative (RPM/RMG or CGO/OSR) deadline)
  • June 21, 2018: Full applications due by 5 pm PT
  • August 2018: Notification of invitation to interview
  • Sept 10-13, 2018: Interviews in the Bay Area (applicants must be available to attend in-person)
  • October 2018: Earliest notification of decisions (subject to change)
  • December 2018:Earliest start date of award period (subject to change)
 
The review process for the CZI Collaborative Science (CS) Award is a three step process, including (1) Letter of Intent, followed by (2) invited full application from selected groups, and (3) final in-person interview. Finalists who are invited for an interview will be notified in early August, but as the interview dates are firm, we request that all applicants hold September 10-13, 2018 for the interview period.
 
**Stanford Institutional Representatives: 
  • PIs in the School of Medicine: Research Process Manager in the Research Management Group (RPM in RMG)
  • PIs in other Schools: Contract and Grant Officers in the Office of Sponsored Research (CGO in OSR)
 
All applications must be completed and submitted through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s online grants management portal at https://apply.chanzuckerberg.com/. It is recommended that applicants familiarize themselves this portal well in advance of any deadlines. 
 
GUIDELINES:
 
Overview: 
CZI Neurodegeneration Challenge RFA overview webpage:
            
CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards
Full RFA Announcement: 
Application Instructions:
Institutional Approval Form*
 
CZI Collaborative Science Awards
Full RFA Announcement:
Application Instructions:
Download PDF file >>
Institutional Approval Form*:
Download PDF file >>
 
*The Institutional approval form must be signed by your respective RPM/RMG or CGO in OSR then uploaded in the grant management portal with other required documents for each RFA.
 
ELIGIBILITY:
 
CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards Eligibility (webpage >>)
We strongly encourage applications from Investigators new to the field of neurodegeneration. As we wish to bring new technology, resources, and frameworks to the field, we welcome applications from researchers with experience in diverse disciplines -- including biological disciplines as well as non-biomedical disciplines such as engineering, chemistry, and computer science.                                                                                                                                  
  • Applicants must hold a PhD, MD, or equivalent degree.
  • Applicants must have an academic appointment and be in their first independent faculty position** or equivalent at an accredited college, university, medical school, or other research facility. 
  • **Stanford eligibility clarification: faculty with PI eligibility (those with UTL, MCL, and NTLR faculty appointments) who meet the following criteria.
  • Applicants should be in their faculty role** for at least two years but not more than six years at the time of application, i.e. have started a first independent position between April 2012 and April 2016. Independence is typically demonstrated by a full-time faculty appointment, a tenure-track position, allocated space, a start-up package, and institutional commitment as defined or verified in a letter from a department chair or equivalent. CZI will make exceptions to these criteria in cases of institutionally approved career breaks, e.g. family or medical leave, etc. (if this applies to you, please contact sciencegrants@chanzuckerberg.com).
  • Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign non-profit organizations; public and private institutions, such as colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local government; and eligible agencies of the federal government.
  • Applicants for the CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award may not apply for the Collaborative Science Award. 
  • Applications are strongly encouraged from women and underrepresented minorities. 
  • Proposals including any activities in Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) sanctioned countries webpage >> are not eligible to apply. 
  • Facebook employees, including employees of any subsidiary Facebook entities, are not eligible to apply.
  • CZI reserves the sole right to decide if an applicant and applicant organization meet the eligibility requirements.
  • For questions about eligibility for this Award or the application process, please contact us in advance of the proposal deadline at sciencegrants@chanzuckerberg.com. Deadline extensions will not be granted. 
 
CZI Collaborative Science Awards Eligibility (webpage >>): 
We strongly encourage applications from Investigators new to the field of neurodegeneration. As we wish to bring new technology, resources and frameworks to the field, we welcome applications from researchers with experience in diverse disciplines -- including biological disciplines as well as non-biomedical disciplines such as engineering, chemistry, and computer science.               
  • Applicants must hold a PhD, MD or equivalent degree.
  • Applicants must have an academic appointment and be in an independent faculty position** or equivalent at an accredited college, university, medical school, or other research facility. 
  • **Stanford eligibility clarification: faculty with PI eligibility (those with UTL, MCL, and NTLR faculty appointments)
  • Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign non-profit organizations; public and private institutions, such as colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local government; and eligible agencies of the federal government.
  • Collaborations should include two to four Principal Investigators (minimum of two and maximum of four). At least one member of the collaboration should be a physician with active clinical engagement in an area relevant to the proposal.
  • One PI should be designated as the Coordinating PI to take responsibility for managing the group collaboration and be the administrative contact for CZI and any grant partners, including SVCF. 
  • Collaboration members may be from the same or different institutions. However, the Coordinating PI must be affiliated with the institution submitting the application and grant funds will be awarded to that institution which will take responsibility for distributing funds to the institutions of the other members of the collaboration. Note that foreign institutions may not subcontract to US institutions so please be mindful when selecting the Coordinating PI/institution. 
  • Applications are strongly encouraged from Investigators new to the field of neurodegeneration, and, in particular, applications from researchers with relevant interdisciplinary training and experience in disciplines outside of biomedicine who bring new technology, resources, or frameworks to the field. 
  • Applicants for the CZI Collaborative Science Award may not apply for the Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award.
  • Applications are strongly encouraged from women and underrepresented minorities. 
  • Proposals including any activities in Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) sanctioned countries webpage >>  are not eligible to apply. 
  • Facebook employees, including employees of any subsidiary Facebook entities, are not permitted to apply for this grant.
  • CZI reserves the sole right to decide if an applicant and applicant organization meet the eligibility requirements.
  • For questions about eligibility for this Award or the application process, please contact us in advance of the proposal deadline at sciencegrants@chanzuckerberg.com. Deadline extensions will not be granted. 
 
 
Goals of the CZI Neurodegeneration Challenge Network
While there has been significant investment in neurodegenerative disease research, our understanding of the underlying cellular mechanisms and basic biology of most of these disorders is limited. Even for historically well-studied diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, there remain significant gaps in our knowledge about the underlying pathological processes, and clinical efforts have focused on a relatively narrow set of ideas. In recent years, new advances, especially in genetics and genomics, have expanded the view of contributing mechanisms, implicating the immune system, glia, vascular systems, and metabolism in many of these diseases. There is also greater appreciation that these diseases may share common genes, pathways and cellular mechanisms, suggesting value in more disease cross-cutting approaches to understanding neurodegenerative disorders broadly. These recent advances present opportunities to approach the challenge of understanding neurodegenerative disorders in a different way.
 
The goal of the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network is to bring together outstanding, innovative, forward-thinking scientists from different disciplines, into a collaborative network to work together on questions related to the basic cell biological mechanisms of neurodegeneration in the context of human disease biology. 
 
To encourage new ideas, we strongly encourage applications from researchers who are working in relevant fields outside of neurodegeneration and neuroscience  (such as cell biology, immunology, metabolism, physiology, and computational biology). Previous work in neurodegeneration is not a prerequisite, as long as the proposal is able to make a strong case for potential relevance to neurodegeneration.
 
 
Scientific Scope
This is explicitly not a translational or clinical development RFA and rather is aimed for foundational and mechanistic studies. Nonetheless, successful projects should be grounded in human biology and disease pathology, and the aim is that these efforts will ultimately provide new avenues and rigorous foundations for other translational and clinical development work.
 
We encourage applications both from investigators who are tackling underexplored topics, as well as those addressing more well-developed mechanisms where there remain significant gaps in understanding.  
 
Examples of potential areas within the scope of the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network include, but are not limited to:
  • Understanding common disease mechanisms that cut across disease and that may point to common avenues for intervention.
  • Probing disease mechanisms in human cells, tissues, and models; foundational studies that rigorously bridge between model systems approaches and human biology and disease pathology.
  • Defining the contribution of non-neuronal influences on neurodegeneration, including potential influences of the innate and adaptive immune systems, vasculature, and the gut and micro biome.
  • Developing improved animal models that more closely mimic human disease progression and physiology.
  • Explaining the relative susceptibility of different cell populations in different neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Testing causal hypotheses for how core cellular mechanisms such as metabolic regulation, proteostasis, RNA processing, and protein trafficking contribute to neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Building a foundational understanding of disease progression, risk, and the influence of aging over the lifespan, including mechanistic approaches as well as longitudinal descriptive studies.
 
Building Tools to Support the Neurodegeneration Research Community
As part of the collective work of the Challenge Network, CZI will ask investigators to contribute to the development, validation and dissemination of robust, reliable, and scalable experimental and analytical tools for the broader neurodegeneration community. CZI will provide infrastructure support for such community tool development and dissemination efforts.
 
Examples of the types of tools and resources that the Challenge Network might develop and disseminate include, but are not limited to:
  • Well-validated and reliable platforms for human cell biology, which might be based on tissue samples, iPSCs, organoids, or other advanced tissue biology systems.
  • Scalable tools for cellular analysis, including genomic, proteomic, and imaging methods, optimized for human cells and relevance to neurodegeneration (for instance, targeted probes and label-free methods for cellular imaging of neurons and non-neuronal cells; robust affinity reagents for proteomics; genome editing and single cell genomic approaches).
  • Well-validated, robust, shared animal models that more accurately model human disease biology.
  • Unique human tissue resources and associated protocols for their handling and best use.
  • Rigorous benchmark datasets for the field, for instance, well-validated longitudinal studies of disease progression that will inform more mechanistic approaches.
  • Development and application of computational and machine learning approaches and tools to address neurodegeneration biology, which might include genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, systems biology, imaging, and/or integration of data across experimental models and scales.
 
Collaboration and Open Science
The CZI Neurodegeneration Challenge Network is an approach to address the scientific challenges of neurodegenerative diseases and an experiment in collaborative science. As part of the selection process, we will be looking for investigators and groups who will enthusiastically contribute to and benefit from a highly collaborative, dynamic and interdisciplinary approach. 
 
Investigators in the Challenge Network will have the opportunity to learn from, collaborate with, and interact with the community of investigators and groups within the Network, as well as with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative scientists and software engineers. 
  • Investigators and members of their labs will participate in regular investigator meetings, meetings for students, postdocs and staff, as well as mentorship and training opportunities. 
  • CZI’s mission is at the interface of technology and science. Working in collaboration with, and guided by, Challenge Network investigators, we aim to develop technology-based tools and approaches to support and accelerate the broader field of neurodegeneration.
  • Clinical partners in these collaborative projects will play important roles as mentors to help the collective work of the Challenge Network stay closely aligned to the clinical contexts of these disorders and to the needs of patients. 
  • CZI supports open science values and principles. To accelerate scientific discovery and collaboration and rapid dissemination, CZI supports a consent, sharing, and publication policy for open and rapid dissemination of research results and a policy for software development that maximizes accessibility, reuse, and shared development. 
 
 
SELECTION PROCESS:
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will evaluate all applications for scientific merit and will seek independent expert review of applications. Candidates are requested to identify three references in support of their application who may be contacted by CZI during the course of the selection process. Finalists from the review process will be invited for an interview with CZI staff and scientific advisors. As the dates for interviews are firm, we request that all applicants hold September 10-13, 2018 for potential travel to the San Francisco Bay Area. Finalists for interviews will be notified in early August. Final decisions will be made by CZI staff in consultation with our scientific advisors. 
 
There is no expectation of any specific number of awards, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative reserves the right to not recommend the funding of any applications. CZI does not provide feedback on decisions for unfunded proposals. 
 
REVIEW CRITERIA:
Selection of awardees will be based on:
 
CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards
  • The quality and rigor of the candidate’s training and previous work.
  • Interest and importance of the biological question being addressed by the candidate, in particular for understanding mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease. While the work should address fundamental mechanisms rather than translational or clinical strategies, it should have a clear clinical context.
  • Degree to which the proposed work brings new ideas to the field and opens up new lines of investigation.
  • Potential of the candidate to contribute to and benefit from a highly collaborative interdisciplinary Network.
 
CZI Collaborative Science Award
  • The quality of the proposal, expertise, and capacity of the collaborative group for addressing the proposed project.
  •  Interest and potential impact of the questions being addressed in the proposal for understanding mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease. While the work should address fundamental mechanisms rather than translational or clinical strategies, it should have a clear clinical context.
  • Degree to which the proposed work brings new ideas to the field and opens up new lines of investigation.
  • Potential of the collaboration partners to contribute to and benefit from a highly collaborative interdisciplinary Network.
 
RFA CONTACT
For administrative and programmatic inquiries, or other questions pertaining to this RFA, please contact sciencegrants@chanzuckerberg.com.