Neurobiology of Brain Disorders Award

Neurobiology of Brain Disorders Award

The McKnight Neurobiology of Brain Disorders Award (NBD Award) assists scientists working to apply the knowledge achieved through basic research to human brain disorders, and who demonstrate a commitment to equitable and inclusive lab environments.

Each year, up to four awards are given. Awards provide $100,000 per year for three years. Funds may be used toward a variety of research activities. They may not be used for the recipient’s salary

Use of Award Funds

They are interested in proposals that address the biological mechanisms of neurological and psychiatric disorders. This includes proposals that provide mechanistic insights into neurological functions at the synaptic, cellular, molecular, genetic or behavioral level across different species, including humans and vertebrate and invertebrate model organisms. A new additional area of interest is the contribution of the environment to brain disorders. They are particularly interested in proposals that incorporate new approaches and in those that provide potential paths for therapeutic interventions. Collaborative and cross-disciplinary applications are encouraged.

Environmental Contributions to Brain Disorders

Early-life environmental stress is a powerful disposing factor for later neurological and psychiatric disorders. Studies show communities of color are at higher risk for these stressors, which range from environmental (e.g. climate, nutrition, exposure to chemicals, pollution) to social (e.g. family, education, housing, poverty). From a clinical perspective, understanding how environmental factors contribute to brain disease is essential for developing effective therapies.

As 2023 is the first year of this new additional focus, they welcome inquiries about the relevance of a particular research proposal to this focus.

How to Apply

The first step is to submit a two-page letter of intent describing how the McKnight award would permit new approaches and accomplishments toward the development of translational research.

The letter should address the following questions:

  1. What clinical problem are you addressing?
  2. What are your specific aims?
  3. How will the knowledge and experience you have gained in basic research be applied to improving the understanding of a brain disorder or disease?
  4. How are you fostering an inclusive and equitable lab environment?

The letter should clearly describe how the proposed research will uncover mechanisms of brain injury or diseases and how it will translate to diagnosis, prevention, treatment, or cure.

The letter of intent should include the email addresses of the principal investigators and a title for the project.

LOI Details

The application process is completely online. Access the Stage One LOI form. One investigator (the primary contact for the proposal) will be required to set up a user name and password (please retain your username and password as you will need it throughout the process); then complete an online face sheet and upload a two-page project description with no more than two pages of references; any images must be within the two-page limit. Please single-space in 12-point font using one-inch margins. In this order A) project description and references, and B) NIH Biosketches for each PI should be uploaded as a single PDF.

Finalists will be invited via email to submit a full proposal. Competition is very intense; applicants are welcome to apply more than once.

If you do not receive email confirmation of receipt of your LOI within a week of submission, please contact Eileen Maler.

Selection Process

A review committee will evaluate the letters and will invite a few candidates to submit complete proposals.

Following review of the proposals, the committee will recommend up to four awards to the Board of Directors of the Endowment Fund. The board will make the final decision.

The Endowment Fund will fund up to four awards, each providing $100,000 per year for three years. Awards will be announced in July and begin in August 2023.

A candidate for a McKnight Neurobiology of Brain Disorders Award must work as an independent investigator at a not-for-profit research institution in the United States, and must hold a faculty position at the rank of Assistant Professor or higher. Those holding other titles such as Research Professor, Adjunct Professor, Professor Research Track, Visiting Professor or Instructor are not eligible. If the host institution does not use professorial titles, a letter from a senior institutional official (e.g., Dean or Director of Research) must confirm that the applicant has his/her own dedicated institutional resources, laboratory space, and/or facilities.

A candidate may not hold another award from the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience that would overlap in time with the Neurobiology of Brain Disorders award.

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