Request for Applications

CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards

Application Instructions

Neurodegeneration Challenge Network:
Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards

Some helpful information as you get started:

  • Please review the Request for Applications (
  • The CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award is a five-year investigator grant for early career academic investigators, with an emphasis on those who are new to the field of neurodegeneration.
  • The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative uses Survey Monkey Apply (SMApply) as its grants management portal. All applications must be submitted through this portal ( SMApply is configured to work best using the Google Chrome browser. It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with this portal well in advance of any deadlines. Deadline extensions will not be granted.
  • The first step in the application process is the eligibility section. You may not proceed with the rest of the application until this section is complete.
  • The application process is a two-step process: application and in-person interview (if invited).
  • Applicants may only apply for one program in the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network. If you apply for a CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award, you may not apply for a CZI Collaborative Science Award. If you are applying for a CZI Collaborative Science Award, you may not apply for a CZI Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award.
  • No budget or budget justification is required as part of the submission.
  • Institutional sign-off is required as part of the application process. Please have your organization review and sign the Institutional Approval Form and upload the signed form where indicated in the application portal.
  • Completed applications must be submitted electronically through SMApply and received no later than 5:00 PM PT on April 17, 2018.

Getting Started


  • 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 us at
  • 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 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 at Deadline extensions will not be granted.

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: 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.

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

Account setup
Prospective applicants must first set up an account in the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s online grants management portal at

To set up an account:

  • Go to
  • Click the green Register button in the upper right corner.
  • Complete the requested fields and then click the green Create Account button.
  • Click the green Continue button to proceed to the site.

Please note you will need to verify your account through the auto-email that you receive after registering. You will not be able to submit an application until your account is verified.

Navigating the portal: Once you have set up an account, you can log in to the grants portal at Using the links in the upper right corner, you can access available programs (which includes RFAs for all CZI areas, not just science) and any applications you have in preparation or previously submitted. Use the information (“i”) link to get help with the portal. To access your account information, click on your name in the upper right. Your application will pre-populate with the name and email listed in your account information so if you need to edit it, click on your name in the upper right corner to make any necessary changes.

Forgotten username or password: If you have forgotten your username or password, please navigate to the grants portal at and click on Log In link located in the upper right corner. Click the Forgot your password link and then enter the email address associated with your SMApply account. You will then receive an email with information to reset your password. Please note that your username is your email address.

Other questions: If you have other questions about using the portal, please use the information (“i”) link in the upper right corner of the window. Here you will find a link to FAQs about using the portal, as well as links to submit specific help requests. If you have specific questions about the RFA, please contact us at

Submitting An Application

To submit an application

  1. Go to
  2. Log in.
  3. Click the green View Programs button that is displayed or click on the Programs link in the upper right corner. This will bring you to a listing of all programs/RFAs that CZI is hosting in SMApply. To find the program/RFA you are looking for, you may need to scroll down.
  4. Find the program/RFA you are interested in and click the green More button.
  5. Click the green Apply button on the upper right and complete all sections (details below).
    1. You will first be prompted to enter the title of your application, after which you will have access to the application tasks to complete. Project title is limited to 75 characters, including spaces. If you need to edit your project title, click on the three dots to the right of the application title (next to the Preview link) and select Rename from the dropdown menu.
    2. The application is made up of several sections called tasks that are listed in a menu on the left side of the page. To open a task, click on the one you would like to work on. You may need to scroll down to see the remaining tasks.
    3. You must complete the Eligibility task first. Once you have completed the Eligibility task successfully, you can edit and complete the other tasks in any order.
    4. Once you complete a task, click the green Mark as Complete button within the task. All tasks must be marked as complete before submitting. To edit a task after marking as complete, click the three dots in the upper right of the task and click edit, which will re-open the task.
    5. Your application will autosave every few seconds, but you can also click the Save & Continue Editing on each task as you go along to.
    6. In the tasks that require a PDF upload: If you need to delete and replace a PDF after you have uploaded it, click on the three dots to the right of the file under the Attach File section within the task and choose Remove from the dropdown menu.
    7. To download your application, click on the three dots in the upper right corner of the application page and select download. If you are within a task, first click on the Back to application link in the upper left. Please be aware of any pop-up blockers in your browser that may prevent downloading your application.
    8. To access an application that you have previously saved, click on the My Applications link in upper right and click the green Continue button on the application you would like to edit.
  6. Once all tasks are completed, click the green Review & Submit button to submit your application.
    1. If the button is grayed out, it means your application is not yet complete- please be sure all required fields and uploads are complete within each task and that you have clicked the Mark as Complete button within each task.
    2. To download your application, click on the download link in the upper right corner. Please be mindful on any pop-up blockers that maybe active in your browser that prevent/hide downloads.
    3. Review your application in the window (or in the PDF that you have downloaded). If you want to make changes, navigate back to your application and reopen/edit any tasks that need editing.
    4. Once you are ready to submit, click the green Submit Your Application button at the bottom of the window. Once your application has been submitted, it cannot be edited. Please be sure that your application is complete BEFORE submitting. If you inadvertently submit your application and it is before the deadline, please contact
  7. Once your application is submitted, you will receive an auto email confirming submission within a few minutes. If you do not receive a confirmation email within a few minutes, please check your spam folder. If you still did not receive your confirmation email, please email
  8. If you would like to view your application after you have submitted it, it can be accessed through the My Applications link in the upper right corner.

The application consists of the following sections (called tasks in the grants portal): Eligibility Questions, Applicant Details: Part 1, Applicant Details: Part 2, Organization Details, Project Details, Professional References, Project Proposal, Biosketch, and Institutional Approval Form.

  • Eligibility Questions: Answer four yes/no questions to determine if you are eligible to apply for this RFA. This task must be completed successfully and marked as complete before you are able to start/complete other tasks in the application. If you are not able to complete the task successfully and you think you are eligible, please contact us at to discuss.
  • Applicant Details: Part 1: Complete all fields in this task; all fields are required.
    • Name and email: auto filled; to edit your name or email, please do so in your account information by clicking your name in the upper right corner and clicking My Account in the dropdown menu.
    • Organization, title/position, department or equivalent, degrees.
  • Applicant Details: Part 2: Complete all required fields in this task. Please note demographic information will not be used as a basis for review.
    • Work phone (required).
    • Highest degree (required; dropdown menu) and year granted.
    • Additional degrees and year granted (up to three).
    • Gender (optional).
    • Race/Ethnicity (optional).
    • Short narrative biography of the applicant; limited to 100 words (required).
  • Organization Details: Complete all fields in this task; all fields are required.
    • Organization
      • Name (auto filled from Applicant Details) and address.
      • Type of organization (drop down menu: academic/non-profit, industry, government, other).
      • Tax ID: Enter your organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), as assigned by the Internal Revenue Service. Foreign organizations who do not have either of the above may enter n/a.
      • Primary organizational contact name, title, address, phone and email: Enter the information for the administrative contact (not the applicant) to be notified if additional information is needed and/or if an application is recommended for funding.
      • Institutional signing official name, title, address, phone and email: Enter the information for the person who is authorized to sign on behalf of your organization.
  • Project Details: Complete all fields in this task; all fields are required.
    • Project Title: auto filled; limited to 75 characters, including spaces.
    • Full citations for up to five papers relevant to the proposal: Enter the 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: Summarize your research program; limited to one sentence.
    • Abstract/Project Summary: Succinctly describe your research program; limited to 250 words.
  • Professional References: Complete all fields in this task; all fields are required. 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. Please notify your references that you have provided their name/contact information to CZI for this program.
    • For each reference: Enter name, email, organization, phone number, and your relationship to the reference.
  • Project Proposal: Upload project proposal as a single PDF; font must be 11 points or larger and margins must be at least one-half inch (top, bottom, left, and right) for all pages. Include the following sections:
    • Abstract: Succinctly describing your research program; can be the same as entered in Project Details; limited to 250 words.
    • Research Proposal Body: limited to 2000 words; 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; include complete source references.
  • Biosketch for applicant: Upload as a single PDF; five pages maximum in NIH format or similar.
  • Institutional Approval Form: Upload as a single PDF. This form should be printed, reviewed, and signed by a person authorized to sign on behalf of your organization, agreeing to the stated institutional and investigator requirements and commitments on data, resource sharing and publication policies, as well as endorsing/verifying your application materials. This form is not set up to be completed online with a digital signature, so you will need to print it, have it signed, and then upload as a PDF.

The formatting and component requirements, including word and page limits indicated above, 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.


For administrative and programmatic inquiries pertaining to this RFA, please contact

For technical assistance with SMApply, please contact or while logged into SMApply, click on the information ”i” link in the upper right corner and submit a help request ticket.


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

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