Request for Applications

Neurodegeneration Challenge Network

CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards

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

Download:  The RFA | The Application Instructions | The Institutional Approval Form

RFA Details


$500K total costs per year for five years, for a total of $2.5M (including up to 15% indirect costs).

Application and Review Process

The review process for the CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award is a two step process, including written application followed by a in-person interview of finalists.

Key Dates

February 20, 2018:  
Application portal is open to receive applications

April 17, 2018:
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 five years in length with project start date of no earlier than December 2018. Actual start date may vary.

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


  • Applicants must hold a PhD, MD, or equivalent degree.
  • Applicants must have an academic appointment and be in their first independent faculty position or equivalent at an accredited college, university, medical school, or other research facility.
  • Applicants should be in their faculty role for at least two years but not more than six years at the time of application, i.e. have started a first independent position between April 2012 and April 2016. Independence is typically demonstrated by a full-time faculty appointment, a tenure-track position, allocated space, a start-up package, and institutional commitment as defined or verified in a letter from a department chair or equivalent. CZI will make exceptions to these criteria in cases of institutionally approved career breaks, e.g. family or medical leave, etc. (if this applies to you, please contact
  • 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.
  •  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 Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award may not apply for the Collaborative Science 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 eligible to apply.
  • 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.

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


  • 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 application. 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.
  • Transfer of funds: Should the grantee leave their position for a non-academic research role, unused funds must be returned. CZI/SVCF will consider requests to transfer the award in situations where a grantee moves to another eligible position at a different organization. However, funds are not transferable to other principal investigators or labs.
  • 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 $500,000 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).

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

Application Process

All applications must be completed and submitted through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s online grants management portal at It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with 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 application consists of the following sections:

  • Eligibility: As a first step in the online application, an eligibility questionnaire must be completed to determine if you are eligible for the RFA. As this is a required step to proceed with the full application, it is strongly recommend that you complete the eligibility questionnaire well in advance of the submission deadline, so that any unexpected issues can be resolved prior to the deadline. No extensions will be granted.
  • Applicant Details (Part 1 and Part 2): General contact, biographical, and demographic information about the applicant.
  • Organization Details: 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
    • 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).
  • Professional References: Provide names and contact information for three professional references. References will not need to provide letters at the time of submission. References will be contacted by CZI directly for applicants who proceed to the second round of evaluation.
  • Project Proposal: Upload project proposal as a single PDF. Please include:
    • Abstract (250 words maximum): Succinctly describing your research program.
    • Research Proposal Body (2000 words maximum): Should include two parts:
      • Scientific goals of your work: 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.
    • Figures (optional): Limited to one page, inclusive of legends.
    • References cited in your proposal (no word/page limit).
  • Biosketch for applicant (five pages maximum; 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. Candidates are requested to identify three references in support of their application who may be contacted by CZI during the course of the selection process. 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 and rigor of the candidate’s training and previous work.
  • Interest and importance of the biological question being addressed by the candidate, in particular 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 candidate 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

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