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Seed Grant Program

The Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC) is pleased to issue a request for proposals. The CPRC seed grant program is made possible by funds from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), the Columbia University Office of the Provost, and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP). The goal of the CPRC seed grant program is to advance intellectually innovative research projects in population, health, and society to the point where they can attract external funding. 

Substantively, the CPRC is interested in proposals that 1) focus on the CPRC’s four primary research areas; 2) link cutting-edge research in neuroscience with the social, behavioral, or health sciences; 3) propose globally-focused research in collaboration with a Columbia Global Center(s); and/or 4) develop research methodology. Policy-related research should be oriented toward pressing social issues in the domestic or international arena.

Preference is given to applications

  • that include CPRC scholars or that have been developed through one of the CPRC's Primary Research Areas groups or small working groups (e.g. Justice Working Group, Fragile Families Working Group; Work-Family Group)
  • that include investigators from at least two Columbia departments/schools or represents the mentorship of a junior investigator by a more senior investigator;
  • and most importantly, that aim to produce work that will serve as a building block to secure subsequent extramural funding from NIH, NSF, or a major foundation.  

Eligibility

All full-time faculty and research scholars or scientists at Columbia University and its affiliated schools are eligible to apply. Consistent with Columbia University policy, full-time associate research scientists/scholars and postdoctoral research scientists/scholars require prior approval to serve as Principal Investigators and should provide evidence of this approval when applying for a CPRC seed grant.  

Proposals from postdoctoral fellows will be considered only if there is an explicit plan to conduct the pilot research as well as any subsequently funded research at Columbia University. Seed grant funds may not be carried to another institution.
 

Deadline and Application Process

The deadline is January 31, 2017. Please submit your application to cprc@columbia.edu. Please be sure to submit the budget as an excel spreadsheet. Applicants will be notified within one month of the deadline. For those applications that the CPRC would propose to fund from its federal grant, the notification timeline will be determined by NICHD review and approval of the proposed project.

Submission Materials

To apply, submit the following application materials to cprc@columbia.edu:

  • Cover page - Include the project title and the mailing address, e-mail, telephone number, and departmental affiliation of each investigator. Also include the name, e-mail address, and telephone number for the contact PI’s department chair and department administrator.
  • Abstract - Outline your research in a one-paragraph abstract suitable for public reports (to the non-social science public), the CPRC's web site, and publicity materials.
  • Narrative - Summarize your research question, theoretical foundations, existing literature, empirical facets of the research (if applicable), and the significance of the eventual project that the seed grant will help to develop. Be sure to distinguish between the seeded research and the eventual project for which you will obtain external funding. If the eventual project for which external funding will be sought is sufficiently advanced so that the project's specific aims can be included, even in draft form, please do so. Excluding references, the narrative may be no more than five (5) single-spaced pages with a minimum font size of 12 points.
  • Plan for Obtaining External Funding (Appendix A) - Describe your plans for obtaining external funds, including: a) what funders you may approach, and why; b) what contact you have already had with these agencies, if any; c) when you expect to apply for funds; d) the expected scale of the eventual project; and e) how the activities funded by the seed grant will help to attract further external support. List current or pending grant applications that are related to the project, including funds requested or received from sources both internal and external to Columbia University. The maximum length for Appendix A is one (1) single-spaced page.
  • Relation of Proposed Activities to Existing Research (Appendix B) - If the seed grant is related to ongoing, funded research, describe how the activities funded by the seed grant and how the existing project will benefit and support each other. If included, the maximum length for Appendix B is one (1) single-spaced page.
  • Budget - Seed grant awards are generally between $5,000 and $10,000. Up to $15,000 may be awarded under special circumstances. In some cases we will grant no-cost extensions if justified, and if allowed by funding source. The review committee will be unsympathetic to proposals that request funding for faculty summer salary or computer purchases, but all other expenses directly related to research activities may be included in the budget, including (with permission from your department chair) release time from teaching. Please submit the budget as a separate Excel spreadsheet.
  • Budget Justification - Please include a brief budget justification that clearly justifies each budgeted expense.
  • Curriculum Vitae (or current NIH biosketch) for all investigators.
  • IRB Approval - For those grants that are eligible for and recommended for funding from our federal grant, IRB approval must be received before NICHD will review the proposal. We recommend you submit a protocol to the relevant IRB at the same time you submit your CPRC application.

Review Criteria

The most important evaluation criteria are:

  • intellectual merit and the promise of innovation,
  • the potential to attract further funding, 
  • the degree to which the proposed project is consistent with the CPRC's research priorities, 
  • the extent to which the research is interdisciplinary and involves collaboration across departments/schools, and 
  • the extent to which the proposal involves the mentorship of a junior investigator by a more senior investigator.

For seed grant review cycles that are especially competitive, we prioritize proposals that reflect either a collaboration across disciplines/units or mentorship by a senior to junior researcher. 

The seed grant program is not a small grant program. Grants will not be awarded to proposals that request funding for a stand-alone project (that is, a project which is not intended to build towards the development of a subsequent research proposal), that do not describe plans for obtaining external funding, or that poorly justify their budget.

Award and Budget Period

CPRC seed grants are awarded for a period of one-year. In some cases, we will grant no-cost extensions, if justified, and if allowed by funding source. Note: For those seed grants funded from the CPRC’s NICHD grant, the seed grant project and budget periods will run consistent with the prime award dates of June 1 – May 31

Funds will be made available once the CPRC has received:

  1. a copy of the PI's approved IRB protocol or IRB letter of exemption or IRB letter of Not Human Subjects Research designation
  2. a signed Acceptance of Award form, and
  3. any information requested for account setup.

Indirect Costs on Seed Grants

CPRC seed grants awarded in Spring 2015 and thereafter are not eligible for IC sharing: the CPRC will retain IC generated by seed grants that have IC attached.

Indirect Costs on Externally Funded Grants

Should a PI receive external funding for research begun with CPRC seed grant awarded in Spring 2015 or after, any indirect costs generated by that external grant will be treated in accordance with the policies of the department/school administering the external grant. Applicants should note that this represents a change from prior years.

CPRC seed grants awarded prior to Spring 2015 will continue to follow the IC policy in effect at the time of award. Please contact cprc@columbia.edu with any questions.

Requirements of Grant Recipients

IRB Approval/Exemption. Research projects involving human subjects must maintain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. If your project does not involve interaction with human subjects or identifiable data, you must still apply for exemption from the relevant IRB. While proposals that have not yet undergone IRB review will be considered for funding, no funds will be disbursed until the CPRC has received a copy of your project's IRB approved protocol or IRB letter of exemption or IRB letter of Not Human Subjects Research designation. Due to the conditions of the CPRC's own IRB approval, there are no exceptions to this requirement.

Progress Reports. Recipients of seed grants are obliged to report on the activities to which the grant is being applied, as well as on progress toward obtaining external support for the project. The first report is due six months after the grant account is set-up and should be sent by email to cprc@columbia.edu. Continued access to the seed funds after this six-month mark requires significant progress, so that the project is likely to lead to a proposal at the next round of submissions at the appropriate funding agency.

Acknowledgment of CPRC support. Investigators are required to acknowledge CPRC support in any papers and publications ensuing from the CPRC-funded seed grant research as well as from externally funded research that was made possible by the CPRC seed grant. Investigators must:

  1. include the CPRC NIH grant number in their acknowledgment (R24HD058486 for seed grants awarded prior to Spring 2015 or P2CHD058486 for seed grants awarded after Spring 2015), and
  2. upload the relevant publication via NIHMS so that the full text will be available in PubMed Central. (CPRC staff can assist with this process; contact cprc@columbia.edu). 

Contact

For additional information about the CPRC's seed grant program or for advice on applications, contact the cprc@columbia.edu