Brain Research Foundation 2015 Seed Grant Guidelines

Download a PDF version of the 2015 Seed Grant Guidelines.

The Brain Research Foundation has invited 29 US institutions to nominate faculty to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the Fay/Frank Seed Grant Program. Invited institutions may submit up to 2 LOI’s per institution. 

The Brain Research Foundation’s Annual Seed Grant Program was initiated in 1981. The purpose of our Program is to provide start-up monies for new research projects in the field of Neuroscience that will likely lead to extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other outside funding sources.Click here to read about current and past research projects we've helped support.

The Brain Research Foundation’s Scientific Review Committee will review the Seed Grant 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.

You must be invited by the Brain Research Foundation to participate in this funding opportunity. If your institution was not invited, your submission will not be considered.The invited institutions were determined by the Brain Research Foundation. The determined list is not negotiable. Please do not contact the Foundation to request an invitation.

  • Objective
  • Funding and award period
  • Funding preferences
  • Utilization of funds
  • Eligibility
  • Nondiscrimination statement
  • Application procedures
  • Review procedures
  • Animal and Human subject assurances


The objective of the BRF Seed Grant Program is to support new and innovative projects, especially those of junior faculty, who are working in new research directions. The BRF Seed Grant awards are not intended to supplement existing grants.

Funding and award period

Based on the quality of applications, the Brain Research Foundation anticipates the Seed Grant Program will fund a total of $800,000 in grants. Each total award is limited to $80,000 (direct costs) for a two year grant period from the specified dates only (January 2015-December 2017). Exact dates will be provided by the BRF upon application approval. The first grant payment of $40,000 will be made upon completion of the Seed Grant Acceptance Form. The final payment of $40,000 will be made contingent upon receipt of a Preliminary Progress and Financial Report, which will be due one year prior to the end date of the grant period.

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

Funding preferences

  1. Funding is to be directed at pilot research projects that are both innovative and will likely lead to successful grant applications to NIH and other public and private funding entities.
  2. Assistant Professor – Junior faculty with a new research project that will generate pilot data that will lead to RO1 funding or a comparable outside grant will be first priority.
  3. Associate Professor – Faculty who are pursuing new research directions. Must explain how the project is a new research direction. Must provide abstract for current grant(s). (Note: A new technique is not considered a new direction unless it pertains to a different area of study.)
  4. PI can receive a maximum of 2 consecutive years of funding. PI may reapply after one year of not receiving funding.
  5. Seed Grants are NOT to be used for bridge funding between grants.

Note: The Brain Research Foundation may fund up to five renewals of Seed Grantees.

Utilization of funds

100% of these Seed Grant funds must be utilized for direct costs.

Costs that may be covered by Seed Grant funds 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
  • Indirect costs, including university fees associate with salary, equipment, etc.

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


To be eligible, PI must be a full-time Assistant or Associate Professor at an invited institution, working in the area of studies of brain function. 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.

  1. PI is ineligible if they arenot a full-time faculty member at the institution in which they are applying under.
  2. PI is ineligible if they are a Full Professor.
  3. PI is ineligible to submit more than one BRF Seed Grant proposal in a funding period.
  4. PI is ineligible if they have BRF funding that will overlap this grant period.
  5. 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 one year grant period.
  6. PI is ineligible if they are a member of the BRF Scientific Review Committee.
  7. 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 version of this program is downloadable on the BRF grants website. BRF will only accept up to two LOI’s per institution outside of Illinois, and up to four LOI’s at Illinois institutions.

The application process will be conducted in two phases:

Phase I: Letter of Intent (LOI)The first step in applying for a BRF Seed Grant 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 Seed Grant application for further review. The LOI and invited application must be submitted by a single investigator.

LOI submission must include an institutional signature to verify nomination. LOI’s submitted without an institutional signature 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:

  • 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
    • PI Signature
    • Signature of institutional representative (Office of Research, Office of Sponsored Programs, etc.)
  • Brief summary of program project (1 page maximum, single spaced, ½ inch margins, Times New Roman 11 pt. font minimum)
  • Biographical sketch (using current NIH format) with other support page (4 page maximum)

For Seed Grant Renewals Only

If the PI wants to renew their current Seed Grant to continue their research, PI must include a Progress Report with the submission of this Letter of Intent (Note: A Seed Grant may only be renewed once):

• Summary of research progress (1-2 pages)

• Financial report from PI’s institution

• List of publications/manuscripts resulting from this project, if any

• Why PI wants to continue the current project for another year

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.

**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 January 8, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. CST. LOIs 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. (Note: Approximately 50% of invited applications will be awarded funding.) Submit completed application electronically via

The 5 page grant proposal deadline is April 1, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. CST. 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 senior scientists from the BRF Scientific Review Committee. The second stage includes further review and discussion of the scores and comments resulting from the initial review process. This process is also carried out by the BRF Scientific Review Committee.

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 your specific project. The certifications are not required for the LOI, but are required when submitting a completed grant application.

For more information about seed grant application process, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. You may also contact the Brain Research Foundation by email or by calling (312) 759-5150.