The McKnight Brain Research Foundation Innovator Awards in Cognitive Aging and Memory Loss

Young clinician scientist

The McKnight Brain Research Foundation and the American Federation for Aging Research partner to fund research scientists in their groundbreaking studies.

Aiming to build a cadre of outstanding research scientists across the United States to lead transformative research in the field of cognitive aging, the McKnight Brain Research Foundation and the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) are providing up to two 3-year awards of $750,000 each to advanced Assistant Professors and recently appointed Associate Professors (MDs and PhDs). One award will be made to support studies focusing on clinical translational research and another award toward understanding basic biological mechanisms underlying cognitive aging and age-related memory loss.

The program targets full-time independent investigators at the rank of Assistant Professor or Associate Professor (or equivalent) with established independent research programs who have already demonstrated a firm commitment to cognitive aging research. The funding provided will add substantial start-up support for a period of three years to help these investigators develop and/or expand an outstanding research program in cognitive aging and memory loss. 

One award will be made to support studies focusing on clinical translational research and another toward understanding basic biological mechanisms underlying cognitive aging and age-related memory loss. For example, this support could be deployed towards conducting a pilot clinical trial, developing proof-of concept interventions to ameliorate age associated cognitive impairment, gather preclinical data to accelerate testing of potential interventions, and further study the mechanistic basis of age-associated cognitive impairment in relevant experimental models with a view to identifying novel treatment targets.

Qualifications


Scientists proposing to pursue basic research should clearly articulate the potential of their findings to be translated into clinically relevant strategies, and/or treatments.

Research studies at the intersection of age-associated cognitive changes and disease-related cognitive impairment may be considered if a strong case can be made for their relevance to cognitive aging and age-related memory loss. However, research that is primarily focused on neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) will not be supported.

Two 3-year awards of $750,000 (USD) each will be made in 2021, of which a maximum of 10% may be used for indirect expenses or institutional overhead. To demonstrate a commitment to the investigator, the institution is asked to support the investigator’s project through matching funds. The investigator needs to identify 50% in matching funds, which can only be from non-federal funds, and cannot be used by more than one project. This could be cash and/or in-kind matching, and can include faculty effort, and goods and services paid from departmental funds. For an in-kind match, the selection committee will determine whether this is equivalent to a monetary match.

Selection Criteria


Four criteria are used to determine the merit of an application:

  • Qualifications of the applicant
  • Quality and promise of the proposed research and its relevance to cognitive aging/age-related memory loss
  • Excellence of the research environment
  • The commitment by the institution to provide matching funds

Timeline

The Letter of Intent deadline for the 2022 awards was July 15, 2021.

Awards will be announced on December 15, 2021 with an Award Start Date of January 1, 2022.

See if you qualify

For more information on program eligibility and application procedures, please visit the American Federation on Aging website.

Go to Program Eligibility