Parkinson’s Foundation Research Centers

Program Overview

The Parkinson’s Foundation believes interdisciplinary research is a key approach to finding a solution to Parkinson’s disease (PD). Parkinson’s is a multifaceted and extremely complex disease, and it is likely no one scientist or laboratory has the answer. Moreover, team science involving experts with diverse backgrounds can shed new light on the disease in a way that could not be done by individuals alone.

The goal of the Parkinson’s Foundation Research Centers is to provide funding for innovative teams of scientists working on a thematic area of Parkinson’s disease. The Foundation is interested in proposals that tackle critical issues or problems that are impeding progress in the field of PD research.

The Parkinson’s Foundation’s vision and mission is based on three interwoven priorities: research discoveries that prevent, control and ultimately cure the disease for all people with Parkinson’s, that all people with Parkinson’s have access to equitable and quality care, and that all people affected by Parkinson’s have the information and resources they need. As such, proposals that touch upon these priorities (for example, studies unraveling the pathophysiology of PD, preclinical work towards disease-modifying therapies, or symptomatic therapy for unmet clinical needs) will be given priority.

Level of Support

Awards are $500,000 a year for 4 years, for a total award of $2,000,000. Up to 10% ($200,000) of the total award may be used towards indirect costs.

The goal of the Research Center award is to provide as much flexibility as possible. As such, applicants are only required to submit a total budget for Year 1. Awarded centers will be able to submit a new budget for proposed work for the following year as part of the annual progress report. In addition, each year, $50,000 of this award should be reserved for pilot work and new collaborations. These can be proposed as part of the application process, or later, during the award year. Carryover of unused funds from year to year is permitted.

This award is not meant to fully support the salary of any single PI, and as such, the award is capped to support up to 40% effort for individual PI salaries and is subject to the NIH salary cap of $199,300. The percent effort salary support of other personnel is not limited.

Some institutions applying for this award may already have center funding from or be developing a proposal for another mechanism (e.g., Udall Centers, ASAP). In these cases, the applicant must clearly state and justify how Parkinson’s Foundation funding will be utilized to leverage existing support. In particular, applicants must be able to answer how Foundation support will be complementary and synergistic to existing support. Applicants must state how the proposed projects differ from or build upon projects being funded by other sources. At least one of the projects proposed must be de novo (i.e., not funded by any other source).

Eligibility and Requirements

This award program is open to an interdisciplinary team of scientists working in the field of Parkinson’s disease. The team may all reside in the same geographical area and work at the same institution or collaborate through a virtual center with scientists spread across regions and institutions. Preference will be given to applications which demonstrate cross-departmental or cross-institutional collaboration, bringing new approaches and perspectives to solving PD. Institutions that hold a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence designation for their clinical care and international applicants are also welcome to apply.

Applications must indicate which institutions will be involved in the center, the scientists from each institution, and a clear justification for each key team member with an indication of how their expertise is essential to the proposed research. If the assembled team spans multiple institutions, one of the institutions must be designated as a Lead Institution, through which all funds will be distributed.

Each team must also designate a Center Director who is a recognized expert in Parkinson’s disease research and who is on staff at the Lead Institution. The role of the Center Director will be to oversee all work conducted at the center. Key to this, the Director will maintain control of the overall budget and will have the final decision in removing or replacing any PI at the Center. Centers may not designate a new Director without written approval from the Parkinson’s Foundation. In cases where applicants also hold another center designation (e.g., NINDS Udall Center, Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence) the Research Center Director does not need to be the same person.

The team:

  • Principal Investigators (PI) on the team should be faculty-level, established investigators who have the ability to make significant and unique contributions to the research being proposed. Teams should have at least 3 Principal Investigators, one of whom will be the Center Director.
  • Other team members may include postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and research technicians who will be involved in the research.
  • Interdepartmental and inter-institutional collaborations are highly encouraged, bringing outstanding individuals outside the field of PD to the team.
  • If team members are all housed at the same institution, they should come from at least two different groups (i.e., separate sources of funding and laboratory space).
  • Teams should have access to core facilities at the institution.

Other requirements and considerations:

  • Research proposed can be basic science or clinical research. However, research that combines both basic and clinical research in some capacity is highly encouraged.
  • At least 3 projects should be proposed for the first year.
  • Individual projects should cut across multiple disciplines of research and should be intertwined and reliant upon one another (i.e., address the same problem or hypothesis using different and complementary approaches).
  • The research proposed should have the potential to be transformative in the field of Parkinson’s research, and should be synergistic across projects such that no one PI could carry out the work alone. For each project, one PI should be designated as the lead.
  • Proposals must include a budget for Year 1, and a multi-year plan outlining the research plan to be completed Years 1-4. Each year, centers will propose a budget for the projects for the upcoming year of the award. As flexibility is one aspect of this award, proposed projects for Years 2-4 can be modified as necessary via the annual progress report.
  • Budgets should include the following amounts at these approximate levels: $400,000 for research projects, $50,000 for indirect costs, and $50,000 for proposed or future pilot research and collaborations.
  • Awarded Centers will be subject to a yearly review by the Foundation.
  • Members of Awarded Centers are required to have key members (Center Director and/or PI) participate in an annual meeting hosted by the Foundation.
  • At the end of the award period, Centers will be eligible to apply for a competitive renewal if the Foundation continues and opens a new award cycle.

Application Instructions

The Parkinson's Foundation application process is highly competitive. To make the process more efficient for both applicants and reviewers, we require a two-step application. Initially, we ask applicants to send a Letter of Intent (LOI). The Parkinson's Foundation will only consider applicants who submit complete LOIs by the specified deadline. If selected, the applicant will be invited to submit a full-length proposal. All components of the application must be submitted online through ProposalCentral, the Foundation's grant portal, where the LOI guideline, the list of required components and the pdf files of this program’s details can be found (click on the Apply Now). Please see our deadlines page for current deadlines.

Letters of Intent Guideline

Letters of Intent will be used as a screening process to determine which applicants will be invited to submit a full application. Letters of intent should be 3 pages in length with a minimum of 11pt font Arial, and should include the following sections:

  • • Proposed research
  • • Expertise that each PI brings to the Center and proven track record in research
  • • Synergy between PI, departments, and institutions (if applicable)
  • • NIH biosketches of all team members at the proposed Center should be included, as well as a letter of support from the head of each department involved to demonstrate institutional support.

Invited, Full Applications Guideline

Full proposals should be a maximum of 20 pages at a minimum of 11pt font Arial, clearly readable, with each proposed project described in a maximum of 5 pages. Full applications will undergo further review and short-listed applicants will be invited to present their proposal to the review committee via teleconference.

Apply Now

Questions and Additional Information

Please contact grants@parkinson.org with any questions regarding this award.

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