Brain Research Foundation 2016 SIA Guidelines

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Download a PDF version of the 2016 SIA Guidelines.
For additional information, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

The Brain Research Foundation has invited eligible US institutions to nominate one senior faculty member to submit a Letter of Intent for the Scientific Innovations Award (SIA). The Brain Research Foundation’s Annual Scientific Innovations Award Program provides funding for innovative science in both basic and clinical neuroscience. This funding mechanism is designed to support creative, exploratory, cutting edge research in well-established research laboratories, under the direction of established investigators.

Brain Research Foundation’s Scientific Review Committee will review the SIA proposals and make recommendations for funding to the Foundation. The Committee consists of senior scientists broadly representing the various neuroscience-related programs. Two or more representatives of the Brain Research Foundation are also present when the Committee meets.

If your institution has not been invited, please review the Institutional Eligibility Criteria and send us an email to stating why your institution should be invited. If you are unsure if your institution has been invited, please have your Office of Research contact us to find out at or 312-759-5150. 


The objective of the SIA is to support projects that may be too innovative and speculative for traditional funding sources but still have a high likelihood of producing important findings. It is expected that investigations supported by these grants will yield high impact findings and result in major grant applications and significant publications in high impact journals.

Funding Award Period

Based on the quality of applications, the Brain Research Foundation anticipates the SIA program will fund a total of $450,000 in grants. Each total award is limited to $150,000 (direct costs) for a two year grant period from the specified dates only (January 2016-December 2018). Exact dates will be provided by the BRF upon application approval. The first grant payment of $75,000 will be made upon completion of the SIA Acceptance Form (January 2016). The final payment of $75,000 will be made contingent upon receipt of a Preliminary Progress and Financial Report (January 2017).

Funds must be utilized within the grant period

Final Financial and progress reports, including a lay summary, will be required within 30 days of the end date of the grant period.  

Funding Preference

  • Funding is to be directed at projects that may be too innovative and speculative for traditional funding sources but still have a high likelihood of producing important findings. This should be a unique project for senior investigators who are encouraged to stretch their imagination into areas that can substantially change an area of research.
  • Funding of research projects that will likely lead to successful grant applications with NIH and other public and private funding entities.

Allowable costs under this award

100% of these SIA funds must be utilized for direct costs.
These costs may include:
        Purchase and care of laboratory animals
        Small pieces of laboratory equipment, totaling $5,000 or less
        Laboratory supplies 
        Salary for scientific (including postdoctoral fellows) and technical staff                                 (including laboratory technicians)

Costs not permitted:  
        Facilities and administrative costs
        Salary recovery for the PI
        Domestic and foreign travel 
        Conference or seminar fees
        Personal computers, computer hardware or software 
        Large laboratory equipment
        Tuition reimbursement 

Publications resulting in projects funded in whole or part by the BRF SIA will acknowledge the BRF as a funding source.


To be eligible, the nominated candidate must be a full-time professor or associate professor at an invited US institution, working in the area of studies of brain function in health and disease. Current major NIH or other peer-reviewed funding is preferred but evidence of such funding in the past three years is essential. Studies should be related to either normal human brain development or specifically identified disease states. This includes molecular and clinical neuroscience as well as studies of neural, sensory, motor, cognitive, behavioral and emotional functioning in health and disease. The grant proposal must detail a new research project that is not funded by other sources.  This grant is not to be used as a source of bridge funding. 

Investigators at institutions that are affiliated with a medical school or university are eligible to apply only through the institution where they hold a full-time faculty position. 

Scientists that have previously received a BRF Scientific Innovations Award may not receive the award for a second time until five years has elapsed since the beginning date of the prior award. Grant requirements from all previous awards must be met. Only one PI may apply per application. 


  • PI is ineligible if they are not a full-time faculty member at the institution in which they are applying under.
  • PI is ineligible if they are an assistant professor or professor emeritus. 
  • PI is ineligible if they are a research associate professor or research professor
  • PI is ineligible to submit more than one BRF SIA proposal in a funding period.
  • PI is ineligible if they have BRF funding that will overlap this grant period.
  • PI is ineligible if they have been awarded prior BRF funding, but have failed to submit scientific and financial reports at the end of their grant period.
  • PI is ineligible if they are a member of the BRF Scientific Review Committee.
  • PI is ineligible if they are a relative of BRF a representative, including the SRC, as defined by the Foundation.

Nondiscrimination Statement

The Brain Research Foundation does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, color, ethnic origin and age.

Application Procedures

Applications must be submitted electronically via the BRF grants website ( as a single, combined electronic document (PDF) using the BRF LOI and Application forms (provided on the website upon registration). Documents may be combined into a single document using Adobe Acrobat. A free version of this program is downloadable here.

BRF will only accept one LOI per institution. 

The application process will be conducted in two phases: 
PHASE I: Letter of Intent (LOI) 
The first step in applying for a BRF SIA is to submit a Letter of Intent. The purpose of the LOI is to determine worthy projects that will be asked to submit a complete SIA application for further review. The LOI and invited application must be submitted by a single investigator.

LOI submission must include a brief letter of nomination from an institutional representative on formal letterhead. LOI’s submitted without a nomination will not be accepted. The LOI should be submitted by the PI online at A lay summary and keywords will be requested upon registration. 

The LOI submission includes (and is to be submitted in the following order):
  • Brief nomination from institutional representative (Office of Research, Office of Sponsored Programs, etc.). **
    Please note: if your institution does not have an Office of Research, nomination must come from the Dean or President of the institution.
  • BRF LOI form, including the following information
    -Name and academic title of PI
    -Contact information, including mailing address, telephone number, fax number, and email address
    -Title of program project
    -Brief summary of program project (2 page maximum)
  • Biographical sketch with other support page (5 page maximum)
Submit completed LOI electronically via Faxed, emailed, or mailed applications will NOT be accepted. Consideration will be given only to those Letters of Intent completed according to instructions and with no missing information. In order to save the LOI to your computer, it must be opened in Adobe Acrobat. Download a free version of this software here.

**An automatic email is generated upon submission of the electronic application. If PI does not receive a confirmation, please contact
Deadline for the LOI is July 1, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. CT.  LOI will not be accepted after the deadline. No exceptions will be made. Submitted LOI's that have not been nominated by their institution will not be considered.

PHASE II: Application
If the LOI receives a favorable review, the PI will be invited to submit a grant application. Please submit the application electronically via the BRF website at (using the same username and password setup when submitting the LOI). The 5 page grant proposal deadline is October 1, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. CT. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline. No exceptions will be made. 

Review Procedures

LOI submissions are reviewed and rated by the BRF Scientific Review Committee. So there is not a conflict of interest, the proposals will not be reviewed by committee members from the same institution as the applicant. (Note: Review procedures and guidelines will be followed according to NIH Conflict of Interest, Confidentiality and Non Disclosure Rules.) 

Grant applications are subject to a two-stage peer-review process. In the first stage, proposals are reviewed and rated by the BRF Scientific Review Committee. The second stage includes further review and discussion of the scores and comments resulting from the initial review process. 

In order to keep administrative costs of review minimal for the Foundation, no feedback can be provided to applicants.

Animal and Human Subject Assurances

The Brain Research Foundation requires animal welfare and human subject certifications that apply to the specific project. The certifications are not required for the LOI, but are required when submitting a completed grant application. 

For additional information, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. You may contact the BRF by email or call (312) 759-5150.