Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Launches New Funding Opportunity for Innovative Approaches to Fighting Neurodegenerative Diseases

Oct 10, 2019

Grants Will Support Pairs of Researchers to Collaborate and Unlock the Underlying Biology of Neurodegenerative Disorders

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A 3D illustration of astrocytes, star-shaped glial cells in the brain that connect neuronal cells to blood vessels.

Today, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) opened a new funding opportunity to support pairs of researchers to collaborate and apply novel approaches for gaining greater insight into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. 

CZI’s new Neurodegeneration Challenge Network Collaborative Pairs Request for Applications (RFA) will provide 18-month grants to support pairs of researchers who will address cross-cutting questions that will help increase our understanding of neurodegenerative disorders. At least one researcher per pair must be an early- or mid-career researcher, and successful awardees will be eligible to apply for additional four-year project development grants. This new grant opportunity represents the next phase of the CZI Neurodegeneration Challenge Network (NDCN), an interdisciplinary collaborative network launched in December 2018. 

“This RFA aims to support bold and innovative projects, and we hope some of them lead to breakthroughs that bring us closer to treatments,” said CZI Head of Science, Cori Bargmann. “This is the time for new ideas. We’re excited to welcome new talent into the neurodegeneration field by supporting early- and mid-career scientists and new collaborations, which will build upon and strengthen the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network’s existing partnerships.” 

The CZI Neurodegeneration Challenge Network brings together scientists, physicians, and engineers to focus on neurodegenerative diseases as a broad class of disorders, with shared features and potentially shared solutions. Challenge Network researchers are focused on understanding the fundamental biology of what causes these diseases and how they progress, with an aim toward future development of new strategies for treatments and prevention. Read our Medium post to learn more.

The NDCN Collaborative Pairs RFA pilots a novel, two-phase process: a first pilot phase of seed funds for initial pilots for innovative, exploratory ideas for understanding the underlying biology of neurodegenerative diseases, and a second phase that provides an opportunity for additional grant support to further develop the best ideas from the initial pilots. 

“This new RFA will support innovative, exploratory, and exciting ideas from the community while pioneering a new, two-phase grantmaking process that we hope will be more nimble and responsive and allow the best ideas to progress further and faster,” said CZI Science Program Officer, Katja Brose.

Applications will be for $150,000 in total costs per pair. The RFA is seeking proposals from collaborators, comprised of two investigators and their teams, that bring together complementary approaches and expertise to tackle critical challenges in neurodegenerative disease in a new and innovative way. Each pair must include at least one early- or mid-career investigator, and at least half of the awards will be specifically reserved for pairs that include at least one early-career investigator. 

The RFA also encourages applications from teams that combine clinical and basic science expertise. In the second phase of the RFA, successful pilot project teams will be eligible to apply for four-year grant awards of $400,000 ($200,000 per lab per year) in total costs per year to further develop their projects, for a total of $1.75 million over five-and-a-half years.

For more information and application instructions, please visit CZI’s website. Applications must be submitted by January 14, 2020 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. For administrative and programmatic inquiries, technical assistance, or other questions pertaining to this RFA, please contact sciencegrants@chanzuckerberg.com

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About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit www.chanzuckerberg.com.