Skip to main content
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease
Skip to main content

Pilot Project Grants

The Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease is seeking applications for two pilot project grants. Applications are due Feb. 1, 2019. Formal IRB or ACUC approval will be required before projects can begin. Applicants will be notified of award decision around April 1, 2019.

Pilot grants are limited to one year of support. Projects with meritorious progress can apply for a second year of funding. The maximum level of support will be $35,000 in direct costs annually. An investigator will be eligible only once for pilot project support unless a convincing case is made that the new proposal constitutes a significant departure from the previous funded pilot project. Proposals selected by the internal review committee will be forwarded to the National Institutes of Aging, who will give final approval on the awards.


All Northwestern University faculty are eligible, and postdoctoral fellows are eligible with a letter from their mentor supporting the application and confirming the time and resource commitment. 

The proposed research project must be relevant to clinical or basic research on Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias or cognitive aging. Frontotemporal degeneration, primary progressive aphasia and unusually successful brain aging are additional areas of emphasis. Proposals that address normal cognition in topics relevant to dementia will also be accepted. Proposals that are based on human subjects of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center or its tissue resources (DNA, fixed brain, frozen brain) will be given priority. The principal investigator must hold a faculty appointment or be a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. Students and residents are not eligible to be the principal applicant.

Target categories for support include junior investigators who require initial support in order to obtain feasibility data for future R01-type applications; established investigators testing a new hypothesis or methodology that is not an extension of ongoing research or is a high-risk new project not currently supported by their current grant support; and established investigators in other fields who wish to bring novel approaches to AD/dementia/aging research.


Download an electronic version of the application form.

Applications should be submitted electronically at the review stage. You do not need to submit your application to OSR. Once proposals are chosen for submission to the NIA, both electronic and hard copy versions are required, including applicable signatures from PI and the Office of Sponsored Research at Northwestern University.

Applications must adhere to all NIH formatting guidelines and use PHS398 (rev. 1/18) and Arial 11 pt font.

Please include:

  1. Face Page (form page 1)
  2. Project Summary, Relevance, Performance Site and KeyPpersonnel (form page 2)
  3. Detailed Budget for the 12-month pilot project (form page 4); project PIs are required to have effort, whether directly charged or cost-shared
  4. Budget Justification
  5. Biographical Sketches (NIH-style for key personnel)
  6. Other Support (specify any potential overlap)
  7. Resources and Environment (relevant to the pilot project)
  8. Research Plan: Specific Aims, Background & Significance, Innovation, Research Design & Methods, Literature (maximum five pages, including figures and references)
  9. Human Subjects or Vertebrate Animals (as applicable) 

Postdoctoral fellows must also include with your application a letter from their mentor supporting the application and confirming the time and resource commitment. If you are on a visa, proof that your visa extends through the duration of the project period will be required. You cannot hold a National Service Research Award or NIH training grant appointment and a pilot project simultaneously.

Applications will be reviewed based on:

  1. Significance to the field/innovation
  2. Scientific merit and experimental design
  3. Use of subjects and/or tissue from the clinical and/or neuropathology cores of the Northwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center
  4. Appropriateness of proposed research time schedule
  5. Appropriateness of proposed budget
  6. Probability that the pilot project will lead to independent funding

Submit your application here in PDF format. 

Key Dates

Dec. 1, 2018: Applications open
Feb. 1, 2019: Applications due
April 1, 2019: Awards announced
July 1, 2019: Project begins (subject to NIA approval)
June 30, 2020: Project period ends

Grantees will be required to summarize their research progress in April 2020. A final research and expenditures report will be required in October 2020. Pilot grant awardees will be expected to present a poster summarizing their grant progress during Alzheimer’s Day in May 2020. Investigators should acknowledge Northwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center support and grant number P30AG13854 on any publications resulting from pilot grant support.

Contact Us

Further information on the Pilot Grant program can be obtained from John Disterhoft, PhD.

Back to top

Follow Mesulam Center on