Information for New Center Available

Information is now available on submitting pre-proposals (deadline is January 6, 2012) for the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory (CNLM) Grand Challenge.

Request for Proposals

The Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory (CNLM), established in a partnership between Abbott and the University of Illinois, requests proposals in a Grand Challenge research competition for interdisciplinary, team-based scientific research on the impact of nutrition on learning and memory in the human brain.

Overview of Funding through the Grand Challenge

The Grand Challenge will be an annual competition, for each of the next 5 years, seeking to fund research on nutrition and cognition involving one or more of the following approaches:

  • Translational/clinical research: demonstrations of nutritional enhancement of learning and memory
  • Basic research: illuminating the mechanisms underlying nutritional enhancement (including animal, human and computational models)
  • Assessment platforms and testing pipelines: developing sensitive and reliable tests of enhancement of learning and memory, at any level (behavioral, brain systems, molecular, etc.)

Primary Investigators (PI’s) for all research must be UIUC faculty, but research teams may include researchers from other University of Illinois campuses or faculty from other research institutions that expand the scope and skill sets of teams. For those who wish to be involved in the Grand Challenge competition, but are not members of the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois, the CNLM’s Directors and Executive Committee can help facilitate partnerships with UIUC researchers.

There are two categories of grants, both of which may have proposed grant terms of one to three years, and both of which are to involve interdisciplinary teams conducting the proposed work:

  • Up to $200K (direct and indirect costs) per year, intended for more modest and/or preliminary projects
  • Up to $1M (direct and indirect costs) per year for more ambitious and integrative projects

Submissions will be evaluated and approved by the CNLM’s Directors and Executive Committee. The total number and distribution of awards will be driven by the amount and quality of the grant proposals received each year.

Program Vision and Priority Areas

The mission of the Center, and of the Grand Challenge, is to conduct pioneering research on the impact of nutrition on human brain and cognition. Our vision is to identify and capitalize on the potential beneficial effects of nutritional compounds for enhancing, maintaining, and/or restoring fundamental aspects of learning, memory, and cognition. In doing so, we will create a world-class community of scholars at the University of Illinois dedicated to advancing the boundaries of science at the intersection of neuroscience and nutritional science. This vision includes both basic science and its translation to addressing human needs by creating the building blocks leading to new nutritional products or ingredients with real-world benefits.

Funded research will employ an interdisciplinary, team-based science approach, and will develop and/or utilize new tools, methods, and assessment platforms.

Tools and assessment platforms can include, but are not limited to:

  • Human cognition: measurement of fundamental cognitive processes
  • Human brain function: advanced imaging of structure, function and connectivity of critical brain systems and networks
  • Animal models: measuring learning- and memory-related performance, and associated brain activity and plasticity, in selected animal models
  • Genomics and systems biology: identifying biomarkers of enhancement of learning and memory and their mapping to genomic profiles
  • Computing and bioinformatics: data integration, interrogation, mining and modeling of intervention effects across biological levels and types of outcome measures

We strongly encourage the use of opportunistic research strategies, for example by:

  • Targeting special populations, such as during specific life stages or in response to specific health challenges, life events, or life choices
  • Synergistically combining nutritional intervention with other interventions

Submission & Review Process

The proposal submission and review process will occur in two stages, involving pre-proposals and full proposals.

Pre-proposals:

Pre-proposals must be no longer than 3 pages, not including references, budget and budget justification, abiding by NIH formatting requirements (using Arial, Helvetica, Palatino Linotype or Georgia typeface, a black font color, and a font size of 11 points or larger, on standard size (8 ½" x 11") paper, with at least one-half inch margins (top, bottom, left, and right) for all pages).

Each pre-proposal should contain the following sections:

  • Project team with affiliations
  • Overview, significance, and potential impact of the proposed work
  • Background and prior or preliminary work supporting the proposed research
  • Project plan
  • Innovation of the proposed research
  • Anticipated short-term and long-term results
  • Connection of the proposed project with the vision of the Center and potential areas of collaboration you can envision in the Center
  • References
  • Indication of proposed grant size-category ($200K or $1M) and term (1, 2, or 3 yrs)
  • Approximate budget and budget justification

Pre-proposals are due January 6, 2012, and should be submitted as a PDF document via email to: proposals-CNLM@CNLM.illinois.edu
All pre-proposals will be reviewed by the CNLM’s Directors and Executive Committee, in order to determine which projects will be invited for consideration in the next stage of review, involving either the invitation to submit a full-proposal version of the successful pre-proposal, or the invitation to submit a full proposal that combines one or more other successful pre-proposals. In the latter case, the invitation to join forces with other proposers will be accompanied by additional instructions and suggestions.

Invitations to submit full proposals will be sent to investigators on or by February 6, 2012.

Full proposals:

Full proposals must be no longer than 8 pages not including references, biosketches, budget, and budget justification, abiding by NIH formatting requirements (using Arial, Helvetica, Palatino Linotype or Georgia typeface, a black font color, and a font size of 11 points or larger, on standard size (8 ½" x 11") paper, with at least one-half inch margins (top, bottom, left, and right) for all pages). The budget must be submitted to the Beckman Institute business office no less than one week before the proposal deadline.

Each full proposal should contain the following sections:

  • Project team with affiliations
  • Overview, significance, and potential impact of the proposed work
  • Background and prior or preliminary work supporting the proposed research
  • Project plan
  • Innovation of the proposed research
  • Anticipated short-term and long-term results
  • Connection of the proposed project with the vision of the Center and potential areas of collaboration you can envision in the Center
  • References
  • NIH-style biosketches for each Investigator
  • Full budget and budget justification (costed-out via the Beckman business office)

Full proposals are due March 6, 2012, with the budget submitted through the Beckman business office no less than one week earlier. The full document should be submitted as a PDF document via email to: proposals-CNLM@CNLM.illinois.edu

All full proposals will be reviewed and discussed by the CNLM’s Directors and Executive Committee. They will receive multiple reviews, including by reviewers external to the Executive Committee, taking full advantage of the expertise of University of Illinois and Abbott researchers, in advance of discussion by the Executive Committee. Any Directors or Executive Committee members with a stake in any given proposed project (as researcher and/or as recipient of funds) will be excused from discussion and voting on that proposal.

Decisions regarding awardees, and the budget and term of awards, will be announced on or by April 16, 2012 and funding will be available no later than May 16, 2012.

Review Criteria

Reviews of proposals will be based on the following criteria:

  • Quality of proposal and credentials of the PIs and research team
  • Potential significance and impact
  • Alignment with strategic vision both of CNLM and Abbott Nutrition
  • Interdisciplinary focus
  • Feasibility
  • Builds CNLM capacity and enhances CNLM portfolio

Funding prioritization will be based upon integration of the above factors. Prioritization will also be given to researchers with a history of successful completion of funded research, proven track record of collaborative research, and a demonstrated commitment to interdisciplinary work.

Other Information

The majority of projects will not require confidentiality agreements. Abbott has the right to exclusively license any technology that is developed or discovered through research funded by the Grand Challenge.

More details about the CNLM, the Grand Challenge, the annual research competition, and IP and confidentiality issues will be provided on CNLM website (cnlm.illinois.edu), when the site comes on line and as it continues to be updated during the multiple stages of the submission and review process.

Questions regarding the proposal requirements, timing, or process can be sent directly to proposals-CNLM@CNLM.illinois.edu or please contact any of the following individuals associated with the CNLM:

Illinois Director:                                  Abbott Director:

Neal J. Cohen                                     Keith A. Garleb
217-244-4339                                    614-624-3115
njc@illinois.edu                                   keith.garleb@abbott.com

Illinois Executive Committee Members:

Arthur F. Kramer
217-244-8373
a-kramer@illinois.edu

Gene E. Robinson
217-265-0309
generobi@illinois.edu

Rodney W. Johnson
217-333-2118
rwjohn@illinois.edu

Sharon M. Donovan
217-333-2289
sdonovan@illinois.edu

Illinois Administrative Assistant

Hannah Pace
217-244-1983
pace@illinois.edu