Support for intellectual and developmental disability research: Research Rising Pilot Awards

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As part of the Research Rising initiative, the Life Span Institute is offering support for pilot projects broadly involving studies of intellectual developmental disabilities (IDDs), including autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, and others. This seed grant program is designed to build on KU’s historic and current strengths conducting rigorous research on IDDs and improving the lives of individuals and families affected by IDDs. The overarching goal of this program is to support the competitiveness of planned external research proposals.

Two types of awards will be considered:

  1. High-risk, multidisciplinary efforts requiring proof-of-concept and preliminary data. These projects should include investigators from separate, distinct fields, and the need for cutting edge multidisciplinary work should be clearly described.
  2. Preliminary data collection by early career scientists developing their first major fellowship or external research award (e.g., NIH F, K, or R award; IES Early Career or NSF CAREER). Plans for a major extramural funding proposal should be clearly described.


  • Any member of the KU-Lawrence research community (research faculty and staff) may submit a proposal; investigators from separate institutions may be included but should not serve as PIs.
  • Proposal must indicate a planned submission to an externally-sponsored funding opportunity, including the timeline for proposing and a description of seed grant funding will enhance the competitiveness of the proposal.
  • Proposed project duration is 12 months
  • Budget requests of $5,000-50,000 will be considered.
  • Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.


Proposals must be submitted by Oct. 31 as a single PDF via email to the KU Life Span Institute,, with Matt Mosconi,, copied. Please include “Research Rising Pilot Project" and the last name of the PI in the subject line.

    Submission instructions:

    All proposals must be completed in Arial, font size 11, with single spacing and 1-inch margins for each page. The proposal must include the components below.

    A cover page with the following information (one page):

    • Title of the proposal
    • Name and detailed contact information for the PI (title, mailing address, email address, phone number)
    • Funding amount requested
    • External funding opportunity to be sought in conjunction with this proposal (agency, RFA code, submission date)
    • Abstract (30 lines or less)

    An overview of the scope of work, including the following (three pages total exclusive of Literature Cited):

    • Aims (1 page): What are the goals of the project? What is the scientific gap(s) that will be addressed? How will this project begin addressing the scientific gap(s) identified?
    • Research Strategy (2 pages): Evaluate the rigor of prior research, and clearly describe the methods that will be used, including descriptions of how institutional resources will be leveraged. Describe feasibility of the proposed methods, including whether the proposed team is set up to complete the proposed project and has the requisite expertise. Also include a description of how the proposal will support an externally-funded research proposal.
    • Literature Cited (not included in 3 page total count)

    The following materials also are required:

    • CV or NIH-style biosketch (max. 5 pages) for PI and all Co-Investigators
    • Budget summary (1 page): Briefly describe the anticipated use of the funds. Budgets may include funds to cover:
      • Participant costs (compensation, travel time)
      • Staff salaries
      • Equipment
        • Supplies
        • Test kits
        • Software
      • Budgets may not include
        • Tuition costs
        • Indirect costs
        • Cost share

    Review process:

    All proposals will be reviewed by a committee of internal KU researchers appointed by the Research Rising Leadership Team. Review criteria include:

    • Likelihood that the proposed work will lead to extramural funding
    • Significance of proposed work
    • Rigor of proposed approach
    • Strength of proposed investigators

    Post-award and reporting requirement

    • PIs must submit a final report within 90 days of end date to the Research Rising Leadership team, sent to the attention of Matt Mosconi, The report must:
      • Summarize the extent to which original proposal goals and objectives have been achieved
      • Detail application/submission timeline for the external opportunity/opportunities pursued, including proposals already submitted
    • All KU Office of Research policies and procedures, including research compliances, must be followed
    • No extensions of end dates will be approved


    Announced: August 26, 2023

    Image credit: University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (Flickr)

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