Request for Applications

Neurodegeneration Challenge Network

CZI Collaborative Science Awards

This RFA is now closed.

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RFA Details


$350K total costs per year for three years, for a total of $1.05M (including up to 15% indirect costs).

Application and Review Process

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.

Key Dates:

February 20, 2018: 
Application portal is open to receive Letters of Intent

April 3, 2018: 
Letters of Intent due by 5 pm PT

May 2018: 
Earliest notification for invitation to submit full applications

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)

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. If travel to the Bay Area is not feasible, please contact to discuss.

Awards will be three years in length with a project start date of no earlier than December 2018. Actual start date may vary.

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  • 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.
  • 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 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 ( Deadline extensions will not be granted.

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  • Funds from this award are intended to support research activities. Grants are made to institutions on behalf of the named award recipients and reasonable flexibility on how these funds are utilized is allowed, provided that the funds are used to support research activities related to the project. A budget is not required at the time of submission of the LOI, but will be required for invited full applications. Funded investigators will be asked to provide summary budgets at the time of award and during annual reporting.
  • For awarded projects, financial statements and progress reports will be due at the conclusion of each grant year. Specific deliverable requirements will be outlined in the award notification. Investigators of funded projects will be required to participate in regular investigator meetings, including annual investigator meetings in the Bay Area. Costs of this travel and other Network related travel should be allocated from the Award funds.
  • Grantees may obtain funds for their research from other funding sources, provided that there is no conflict with meeting the terms of the CZI award.
  • Unused research funds may be carried over to the following year and requests for no-cost extensions will be considered.
  • Ethical Conduct: CZI advocates the highest standards for the ethical conduct of research. In addition to requirements of their own countries, grantees should adopt procedures for the use of animals in research, for the ethical treatment of human subjects and tissue donors and for obtaining their written informed consent. CZI regards the policies of the National Institute of Health as a strong model for such procedures.
  • Data, publication and dissemination policies: To accelerate scientific discovery and collaboration, CZI supports a consent, sharing, and publication policy for open and rapid dissemination of research results, including methods, data and reagents, and a policy for software development that maximizes accessibility, reuse, and shared development. Exceptions will be considered where there are situations that make this impossible or counterproductive.
    • Data Sharing: CZI is committed to developing and using platforms that disseminate data openly and freely. That said, CZI understands the need for subsets of data to be protected or provided with controlled access. All datasets either curated or generated through the project should be made publicly available and easily accessible online, when feasible. This includes metadata, documentation, and intended computational use cases, as appropriate. CZI will be working with Challenge Network researchers to identify appropriate routes and best practices for data sharing from the Network.
    • Publications: To encourage rapid dissemination of results, any publications related to this funded work must be submitted to a preprint server, such as bioRxiv, before the first submission to a journal. Experimental protocols should be made publicly available through a protocol sharing service, such as CZI requests that scientific publications, preprints, and presentations that result from this award be acknowledged as being supported by this funding.
    • Reagent sharing: Resources and reagents developed with this funding support should be available for rapid dissemination to the community, where possible in an accessible community repository, such as Addgene (for plasmids/DNA reagents/viruses), Jackson Labs (for model systems lines), etc. This requirement applies to cell lines, transgenic organisms, plasmids/clones, antibodies, and other reagents.
    • Consent: All human tissues should be fully consented to permit full sharing of the resulting data, and any resulting tools, in accordance with laws and regulatory requirements. Any desired exceptions to this policy must be identified at the time of application, and such requests may affect the application’s chance of success. We are aware that there may be circumstances where broad consent may be challenging and in these cases, encourage investigators to discuss with CZI scientific staff.
  • CZI does not retain any rights, other than a use right, to data, published results, and intellectual property that result from the research. CZI supports and promotes policies that enable research results and technologies to have the broadest reach and impact. To this end, all software should be made available through maximally permissive open source licenses.  In some cases, commercialization of intellectual property rights in the form of patents provides for the best route for broadest availability and dissemination.  In these cases, this intellectual property should be made freely available for all academic and non-commercial use and should generally be subject to non-exclusive commercial licensing.
  • Indirect costs are limited to up to 15% of direct costs, and are included within the $350,000 annual budget.
  • Applications selected through this process will be recommended for funding through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF).

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Application Process

The application for the CZI Collaborative Science Award is a two step application process, initiated with a Letter of Intention for the collaborative group. Letters of Intent are due April 3, 2018. Letters of Intent will be evaluated, and finalists proceeding to the next stage of review will be be notified by in May. Invited full proposals are due June 21, 2018. Finalists will be interviewed in person between September 10-13, 2018.

All applications must be completed and submitted through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s online grants management portal at It is recommended that applicants familiarize themselves this portal well in advance of any deadlines. Detailed application instructions are available on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative website, as well as in the grants management portal at


The Letter of Intent consists of the following sections:

  • Applicant Details (Part 1 and Part 2): Information about the Coordinating Principal Investigator for the Collaborative Team.
  • Organization Details For Coordinating PI
  • Project Details which includes:
    • Project Title
    • Project Summary (100 words maximum).
    • List of collaborative team/co-principal investigators
    • Description of each PI’s role on the project (400 word maximum), including a description of the role that will be played by the clinical PI.
  • Collaboration/Project Description (1000 word maximum): Summary of the project, which should include two parts:
    • Scientific goals of the project: Define the scientific goals of your research, relevance to understanding neurodegenerative disease, as well as the ways in which you will contribute to and benefit from the Challenge Network.
    • Tools and resources: Tools and resources that you will develop for the Challenge Network and tools/resources you would like to see CZI and the Challenge Network develop collaboratively.
    • References cited in your Project Description (no word or page limit. Please include complete source references).
  • Biosketches for Coordinating PI and all co-PIs listed above (five pages maximum per biosketch, NIH format or similar) .
  • Letter of commitment signed from each co-PI.


Finalists will be invited to submit a full proposal, due June 21, 2018.

The full proposal consists of the following sections:

  • Organization details for coordinating PI: Information about the applicant’s institutional administrative contact and signing official. Please coordinate submission of the proposal with appropriate officials at your institution, in accordance with your institutional policies. Proposals that do not have administrative sign-off at the time of submission will not be reviewed.
  • Project Details:
    • Project Title (pre-filled from LOI, but can be modified).
    • Full citations (with PubMed links where applicable) for up to five papers relevant to the proposal. Preprints are acceptable and should include link to the preprint.
    • Project purpose (one sentence).
    • Abstract/Project Summary (250 words maximum).
    • List of Co-Principal Investigators (pre-filled from LOI, but can be modified)
  • Project Proposal: Upload as a single PDF. Please include:
    1. Abstract: Succinctly describing your research program (250 words maximum; can be the same as above in project details).
    2. Proposal Body: (2000 words maximum). Should include two parts:
      1. Scientific goals of the project: Define the scientific goals of your research, as well as the ways in which you will contribute to and benefit from the Challenge Network.
      2. Tools and resources: We are particularly interested in the tools, resources and/or specific expertise that you would like to develop or bring to the Challenge Network and what tools/resources you would like to see CZI and the Challenge Network pursue.
    3. Figures (optional), limited to one page, inclusive of legends.
    4. References cited in your proposal (no word, page limit).
  • Budget (one page maximum): Application budgets must reflect the actual costs of the proposed project. Budget is a fixed amount: $350,000 total costs per year for three years for a total of $1,050,000 total costs for the project. Indirect costs are limited to up to 15% of direct costs and are included within the $350,000 annual budget.
  • Biosketches for Coordinating PI and all co-PIs listed above (five pages maximum per biosketch, NIH format or similar).
  • Institutional Approval Form with signature for institutional and investigator requirements and commitments on data, resource sharing and publication policies (form).

The formatting and component requirements, including word and page limits, will be enforced by the review team. Any submitted materials that exceed the word and page limits or do not follow the requirements will not be considered during the application review process.


The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will evaluate all applications for scientific merit and will seek independent expert review of applications. The initial application for the Collaborative Award is a brief Letter of Intent which describes the participants and scientific aims of the collaboration. Selected collaborations will be invited to submit a Full Application for review. 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.

Selection of awardees will be based on:

  • 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.


All submitted applications will be kept confidential to the greatest extent possible, except as necessary for evaluation. After the grant award, funded proposals will be shared across the Challenge Network, but unfunded proposals will remain confidential. Application materials will not be returned to applicants.


For administrative and programmatic inquiries, technical assistance, or other questions pertaining to this RFA, please contact

Details | Eligibility | Policies | Application Process  | FAQ | Back to RFA Page

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be a Principal Investigator or co-PI on more than one application?

No. Each investigator can only be an applicant/Principal Investigator or co-Principal Investigator on one application.

Could you please clarify what the clinician’s role is?

The clinician partner should have active clinical engagement in an area relevant to the proposal. This may involve treating patients or other forms of clinical practice relevant to patients (for instance, pathology or radiology). Clinical administrators who are actively involved in supervising clinical care may also be eligible. The expectation is that all collaborators (including the clinical partner) will actively participate in Network activities. Clinical partners in these collaborative projects will play important roles as mentors to help the collective work of the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network stay closely aligned to the clinical contexts of these disorders and to the needs of patients. The application form requires a brief description of the contributions/role of each collaborative partner, including the clinical partner.

What is the role of the coordinating PI?

The coordinating PI will take responsibility for managing the group collaboration and be the administrative point of contact for CZI and any partners, including Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF). 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. The coordinating PI should be the person submitting the application on behalf of the collaborative team.

If our team is invited for an interview, who needs to attend? Who will cover our travel costs? What if our whole team is not available?

If invited, all team members (PI and named co-PIs) must attend the interview. If you or a team member has a conflict with these dates, we ask that you notify us when you apply and in cases where necessary, we may be able to make alternative arrangements. We are aware that the dates overlap with Rosh Hashanah and will make accommodations. CZI will cover the travel costs of applicants who are invited for an interview as part of the application process.

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