Bridge to Independence Award

Closed
Important Dates
  • proposalCENTRAL opens for applications
  • Letters of recommendation and applications due
  • Finalists Notified
  • Virtual Interview of Finalists
  • Fellows Notified
Important Dates
  • proposalCENTRAL opens for applications
  • Letters of recommendation and applications due
  • Finalists Notified
  • Virtual Interview of Finalists
  • Fellows Notified
Contact Info

Opportunity

The Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain is dedicated to supporting advances in systems and computational neuroscience with the goal of expanding our understanding of the brain’s internal states. SCGB’s Bridge to Independence (BTI) Award aims to facilitate the transition of the next generation of systems and computational neuroscientists to research independence. Through this effort, we seek to fund scientists doing work consistent with SCGB’s scientific mission, ideally investigating large-scale circuits at single-cell resolution to understand neural dynamics and coding. We especially encourage applications from populations underrepresented in the scientific workforce, including but not limited to: racially underrepresented individuals, women, individuals with disabilities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. We also encourage applications from the LGBTQ+ community.

Timeline and Funding

SCGB’s BTI Award program engages talented early-career scientists in systems and computational neuroscience by facilitating their transition to research independence and providing grant funding at the start of their professorships. This request for applications (RFA) is aimed at Ph.D. and M.D.-holding scientists who are currently in training positions but intend to seek tenure-track research faculty positions during the upcoming academic job cycle. Fellows will receive a commitment of $495,000 over three years, activated upon assumption of a tenure-track research professorship.

Importantly, although eligible applicants must be currently in a training position, the BTI Award itself is not a training fellowship but a research grant to newly appointed faculty. The program’s selection process is designed to enhance the BTI fellows’ job prospects by providing a letter that specifies SCGB financial commitment to the research project once the BTI fellow has secured a suitable faculty position.

Application Process

BTI grants are awarded through a multi-stage process. The first stage is a competitive process in which applications are reviewed by the SCGB Scientific Staff and Executive Committee. BTI fellows are selected at the end of stage one. Upon notification, fellows have 18 months to secure a tenure-track professorship at an academic institution and submit a second-stage approval application. Review of the approval application is a non-competitive, internal process intended to confirm that the fellow has secured an academic research position and adequate institutional resources to accomplish the Bridge to Independence research proposal.

After the Simons Foundation accepts the approval application, the principal investigator (PI) will receive research support at a fixed rate of $495,000 over three (3) years, including 20 percent for indirect costs (see Simons Foundation policies). The award is administered through the institution at which the PI has a tenure-track faculty appointment. Fellows may defer submission of their approval application for up to 18 months after receiving their award notification in order to secure their faculty position. Funds are intended as a supplement to a standard start-up package.

Eligibility

  • Applicants must hold a Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent degree.
  • Applicants must be currently in non-independent, mentored training positions, as recognized by their institution. See FAQ for guidelines.
  • Applicants must be actively seeking a tenure-track position at an institution of higher education during the next job cycle.
  • Applicants are not eligible if they are recipients of other career development awards with similar budgetary scopes as the SCGB BTI Award. See FAQ for more information.
  • Applicants must not have accepted a formal offer for a tenure-track faculty position.
  • There are no citizenship requirements.

You are strongly encouraged to contact SCGB before applying if you are unsure of whether you meet the eligibility criteria above.

Instructions for Submission

The deadline for first-stage application submission is Monday, April 5, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

All applications must be completed electronically and submitted using forms provided at proposalCENTRAL. Please note that the first-stage application is referred to as a “Letter of Intent (LOI)” in proposalCentral. To submit your application/LOI, please log in as an applicant, go to the Grant Opportunities tab, scroll to Simons Foundation and click Apply Now for the “Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain Bridge to Independence Award” program. For assistance, please call 800-875-2562 or email pcsupport@altum.com.

All applications must include:

  • Research statement, not to exceed four (4) pages (not including references). Detailed description of scientific interests and goals describing your future research program as an independent investigator and how the SCGB mission fits in with your intended research program, including:
    • Relevant scientific background
    • Specific aims
    • Experimental design and methods
    • Significance and relevance to SCGB mission
  • Biosketch, including:
    • Personal statement, not to exceed one (1) page
    • Optional diversity statement, not to exceed one (1) page. Explanation of how the candidate’s participation would further the goal to promote diversity in systems and computational neuroscience. This may include among populations underrepresented in the scientific workforce, including but not limited to: racially underrepresented individuals, women, and individuals with disabilities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. It may also include the LGBTQ+ community.
    • Education, positions, awards, publications, other support
  • Letter from current institution officially confirming you are in a mentored training position (e.g., letter from department chair or grant office)
  • Letters of recommendation (separate, blind submission). Three (3) letters of recommendation are required from current or former mentors, or other senior scientists who have substantial familiarity with your scientific career thus far. At least one letter of recommendation must be from a current or former scientific mentor. Confidential letters must be submitted through proposalCENTRAL (see instructions available for download in proposalCENTRAL).
  • Applications are reviewed by the SCGB Scientific Staff and competitive applications are further reviewed by the SCGB Review Committee. Reviewers will weigh criteria related to the applicant’s scientific potential as an independent investigator and their ability to formulate an impactful, innovative and feasible research project in systems and computational neuroscience.

    After Selection

    SCGB BTI fellows will be notified of their status in June 2021. The notification letters will outline SCGB’s commitment to awarding the Bridge to Independence Award, contingent upon satisfactory fulfillment of the approval application. Upon notification, fellows have up to 18 months to secure a tenure-track faculty position and submit an approval application. Once job negotiations develop during this intervening period, fellows are strongly encouraged to contact SCGB, who may informally review job offer letters to avoid potential problems in activating the grant.

    To activate their grant, fellows must submit an approval application, which includes the tenure-track faculty appointment offer letter with confirmed research startup package and laboratory space commitments. Other required documents include applicable updates to the proposal narrative, biosketch, current and pending support, budget, budget justification, research environment and resources, renewable reagents and data-sharing plan, and signature page.

    SCGB will review these documents internally with the intention of funding all fellows who have secured sufficient institutional resources and academic privileges to complete the BTI project. If these are deemed acceptable, a grant funding letter will be sent.

    SCGB reserves the right to withhold grant support 1) if the fellow is unable to secure a tenure-track position at a suitable academic institution within 18 months of their award notification letter, 2) if an institutional environment is deemed inadequate by SCGB to support successful completion of the research project, 3) if the revised and updated research plan is not considered adequate, or 4) if the fellow is unable to fulfill the responsibilities of the PI for other reasons. Such instances will be handled on a case-by-case basis. It is our intention that withholding grant support from fellows will occur only in rare instances. When appropriate, SCGB will work with fellows and their prospective institutions in developing mutually agreeable solutions.

    Related Program at SFARI

    SCGB’s sister program the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) offers its own BTI Award. A chart of the differences between the programs can be found here. Candidates may apply to both programs. However, each application will be reviewed individually based on the program’s own selection process and criteria. As such, it is expected that applicants will tailor each research narrative to align with the respective SF program to which they are applying.

Read More
Important Dates
  • proposalCENTRAL opens for applications
  • Letters of recommendation and applications due
  • Finalists Notified
  • Virtual Interview of Finalists
  • Fellows Notified
Contact Info

The Simons Foundation uses an electronic grants submission process. All interested grant applicants must submit their applications online through proposalCENTRAL. The submission deadline for first-stage applications, called a “letter of intent” (LOI) in proposalCENTRAL, is April 5, 2021, 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Accessing the Letter of Intent Application in proposalCENTRAL:
Prospective applicants must submit a letter of intent (LOI) using the LOI application via proposalCENTRAL (pC). To start an application in pC, users must first login to their pC account.

If You Need to Create a New Account in pC
To create a new account, go to https://proposalcentral.com/ (pC) and click CREATE ONE NOW under APPLICATION LOGIN. Fill in the required fields, check the boxes to agree to pC’s Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy and then click SAVE. For the next steps, see the If You Have an Existing Account in pC section below.

If You Have an Existing Account in pC
For all users with a pC account, log in under APPLICATION LOGIN at https://proposalcentral.altum.com/ and select CREATE NEW PROPOSAL or click on the GRANT OPPORTUNITIES tab. Scroll down to SIMONS FOUNDATION and then click APPLY NOW for the Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain Bridge to Independence Award in order to start the proposal and access the templates. After all sections are completed, you will be able to click on the SUBMIT button.

To submit a LOI, the following proposalCENTRAL modules must be completed:

1. Title Page

  • Answer all questions in this section.

2. Download Templates & Instructions

  • All templates necessary to complete your LOI are available for download in this module.

3. Enable Other Users to Access This Proposal

  • This module allows you to give other users access to your grant application. When you give a person access to your grant application, you can give them one of three levels of permissions: View, Edit or Administrator.

4. Applicant/PI

  • Enter the name of the PI for the proposed funding here. While the PI does not need to submit the application themselves, this section must be filled in for the intended PI for proper proposal tracking and review. Note that the applicant will be referred to as the “PI” throughout the application, though they will not yet have secured a faculty position at the time that they submit the LOI.

5. Organization/Institution

  • Enter the PI’s current institution (the institution at which they have a non-independent training position). Institution information is preloaded from the institutional profile but may be changed on this screen if necessary.

6. Letters of recommendation (separate, blind submission; deadline 5 April 2021):

Three (3) letters of recommendation are required from current or former mentors, or other senior scientists who have substantial familiarity with your scientific career thus far. At least one letter of recommendation must be from a current or former scientific mentor. The applicant CANNOT submit the letters of recommendation directly. Note: Individuals submitting references are referred to as “referee” in proposalCENTRAL.

In this section, you will be able to list the referees who will submit letters of recommendation on your behalf through our confidential submission process. To enter the referees:

  • Enter and confirm the email address of the referee you have chosen in the text box provided and click the “Add” button.
  • A small pop-up window will open, prompting you for the referee’s first and last name. If the referee is already registered in proposalCENTRAL, the name will automatically display in the window.
  • Enter the referee’s full name and click the “Send Email” button, then click “Close Window.”
  • An email will be sent to the referee from proposalCENTRAL requesting a confidential letter of recommendation. The email will include instructions, the referee’s proposalCENTRAL account information, and a link for the referee to upload the completed letter of recommendation directly to your grant application.
  • To ensure confidentiality, you will not have access to these letters. Once the email is sent, the referee’s name and contact information will appear under the “Letters of Recommendation” section in your application. The referee information is displayed in the table (i.e., name, email address, date/time email was sent, etc.). You can refer to this table to check on the status of the letters that have been uploaded to your application. When each of the letters is uploaded, the status will display as “Submitted.”
  • Repeat this process for each referee you wish to add. You will NOT be able to submit your application until three referees are uploaded.
  • Letters of recommendation must be submitted by Monday, 5 April 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET. It is advised that applicants begin the online application at least four (4) weeks prior to the April 5 deadline for letters of recommendation. Applicants will not be able to submit their proposal without the required references.

NOTE: The referee will not have access to any portion of your grant application in the upload process.

7. Attach LOI Documents: Upload the following documents in this section, where they are also available for download:

  • Research statement, not to exceed four (4) pages (not including references). Detailed description of scientific interests and goals describing your future research program as an independent investigator and how the SCGB mission fits in with your intended research program, including:
    • Relevant scientific background
    • Specific aims
    • Experimental design and methods
    • Significance and relevance to SCGB mission
  • Biosketch, including:
    • Personal statement, not to exceed one (1) page
    • Optional diversity statement, not to exceed one (1) page. Explanation of how the candidate’s participation would further the goal to promote diversity in systems and computational neuroscience. This may include among populations underrepresented in the scientific workforce, including but not limited to: racially underrepresented individuals, women, and individuals with disabilities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. It may also include the LGBTQ+ community.
    • Education, positions, awards, publications, other support
  • Letter from current institution officially confirming you are in a mentored training position (e.g., letter from department chair or grant office)

8. Validate

  • You must click the validate button on the bottom of the page to check for any missing information or files that are required to submit the application. All missing information that is required will be listed on the screen. Please correct any missing information before proceeding to the next step.

9. Submit

  • You will be unable to submit if you have not provided all the required information. Any missing information will be listed on the screen. If your submission is successful, you will receive a confirmation message on the screen and a confirmation email will be sent to the applicant.

Contacts

Administrative Inquiries:   lifegrants@simonsfoundation.org
Scientific Inquiries:   globalbrain@simonsfoundation.org
proposalCENTRAL:   pcsupport@altum.com   800-875-2562
Important Dates
  • proposalCENTRAL opens for applications
  • Letters of recommendation and applications due
  • Finalists Notified
  • Virtual Interview of Finalists
  • Fellows Notified
Contact Info
  1. How is the SCGB BTI different from the SFARI BTI?plus--large
  2. Can I apply to the SFARI and SCGB BTI programs at the same time?plus--large

    Yes. However, each application will be reviewed individually based on the program’s own selection process and criteria. As such, it is expected that applicants will tailor each research narrative to align with the respective SF program to which they are applying.

  3. I do not have a Ph.D. or M.D. yet, but I am currently pursuing one (e.g., I’m a current graduate or medical student). Am I eligible?plus--large

    No. Applicants must hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree. Please note that the foundation does not consider a Doctor of Psychology degree (e.g., Psy.D.) as equivalent to a Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.).

  4. Are newly appointed tenure-track faculty eligible?plus--large

    No.

  5. I have accepted a tenure-track faculty position but have not yet started. Am I still eligible?plus--large

    No. However, with approval of your faculty institution, you are eligible to apply for research awards and targeted RFA programs. Information about additional SCGB grant opportunities is available on the SCGB website or upon inquiry to globalbrain@simonsfoundation.org.

  6. I hold a non-tenured faculty position (e.g., assistant or adjunct professor) at my institution. Am I eligible to apply?plus--large

    No. However, exceptions are made for clinical faculty members who do not hold an independent research faculty position.

  7. I have a Ph.D. (or equivalent research doctorate degree) but do not have the title of “postdoctoral fellow”. Am I eligible to apply?plus--large

    You are eligible only if your institutional title is the equivalent of “postdoctoral fellow.” In other words, if you are considered to be in a non-independent training position with a designated mentor. Confirmation of your training status (e.g., letter from the department chair) is required for the application.

  8. What is the difference between a non-independent position and an independent position?plus--large

    The following guidelines should be used to distinguish independent from non-independent positions (modified from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) K99/R00 program announcement eligibility section):

    • Evidence for non-independence may include:
      • The applicant’s research is entirely funded by another investigator’s grants.
      • The applicant’s research is conducted entirely in another investigator’s assigned space.
      • According to institutional policy, the applicant is not allowed to submit an application for an NIH research grant (e.g., R01) or SCGB grant as the principal investigator (PI).
    • Conversely, evidence for independence, and therefore lack of eligibility, may include:
      • The applicant has a full-time faculty position.
      • The applicant received a start-up package for support of their independent research.
      • The applicant has research space dedicated to their own research.
      • The applicant is eligible to apply for independent research funding as the PI of an NIH research grant (e.g., R01) or SCGB grant.
  9. I am a clinician (M.D., D.D.S., D.V.M. or other licensed professional) but do not have a postdoctoral fellow position. Am I eligible to apply?plus--large

    A clinician who holds a faculty position in order to fulfill his/her clinical responsibilities may be eligible if and only if they do not hold an independent research faculty position. The foundation may require written confirmation of the distinction between the applicant’s clinical and research responsibilities. Please contact lifegrants@simonsfoundation.org to confirm eligibility status prior to application submission.

  10. My current traineeship is at a non-U.S. academic institution; am I eligible to apply?plus--large

    Yes.

  11. Does my faculty position need to be at a U.S. institution?plus--large

    No.

  12. Are there any eligibility restrictions on duration of postdoctoral training or how long ago I earned my Ph.D. or M.D.?plus--large

    No. Unlike SFARI’s BTI, SCGB does not restrict eligibility based on duration of postdoctoral training or how long ago the Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent degree was earned.

  13. Is postdoctoral training a requirement to apply for the BTI award?plus--large

    No. However, a postdoctoral fellowship is often considered essential training in preparation for an independent research career and as such, the vast majority of competitive applicants have had substantive postdoctoral training. Nevertheless, SCGB acknowledges that some individuals may already be well placed to begin their professorships without having completed a postdoctoral fellowship. Our review criteria are focused on whether an applicant is currently poised to begin their independent careers, as evidenced by their scientific contributions and vision, and not based on whether the applicant has conducted postdoctoral training, per se.

  14. I am the recipient of a career development award with a similar budgetary scope to the SCGB Bridge to Independence (BTI) Award. Am I eligible?plus--large

    No. These awards include, but are not limited to:

    • NIH K99/R00 (please note that other K awardees may be eligible, e.g., recipients of K01 and K08)
    • Burroughs Wellcome Career Award
    • American Academy of Neurology Career Development Award
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Hanna H. Gray fellowship
    • SFARI Bridge to Independence (BTI) Award

    You are strongly encouraged to contact SCGB before applying if you believe your career development award is comparable to the BTI Award but is not listed above.

  15. Can I email or mail an application?plus--large

    No. The Simons Foundation only accepts applications submitted online through proposalCENTRAL.

  16. Why is proposalCENTRAL asking me for an LOI?plus--large

    You’re in the right place. proposalCENTRAL classifies the competitive first-stage application as a “letter of intent (LOI)”.

  17. Do I need approval from the grants office at my institution to submit my first-stage application?plus--large

    No. Institutional signoff is not required in the first stage but it will be required as part of the approval application if you are selected for an award.

  18. May SCGB funds go toward providing clinical services or conducting a clinical trial?plus--large

    No. Proposals for clinical “efficacy” trials are not allowed. Funds may only be used toward a research project.

  19. Is validating my application the same as submitting it?plus--large

    No. Validating the application is a process that checks for errors and omissions and will alert you to missing requirements of your application. If it is complete, you must then click “Submit.” You will receive an email within 10 minutes, and you should contact pcsupport@altum.com if you do not receive confirmation and do not see your proposal in the “Submitted” tab or with the status changed to “Submitted.”

  20. I get an error message citing a missing section when I try to submit.plus--large

    The “Validate” button reviews your proposal for missing sections. The submission instructions list the required sections and attachments. You must complete the missing sections listed. If you are still receiving error messages after completing and saving the indicated sections, please contact pcsupport@altum.com.

  21. Where is the “Submit” button?plus--large

    The “Submit” button is located in the last section of the proposal. You will be unable to submit if you have not provided all the required information. If your application is complete and you are unable to submit it, please contact pcsupport@altum.com.

  22. Can I make changes to the application once it has been submitted?plus--large

    You must contact the Simons Foundation prior to the April 5, 2021 deadline to un-submit your application. Please email lifegrants@simonsfoundation.org if you would like to un-submit your proposal for any modifications.

  23. Will I receive a confirmation email when I submit?plus--large

    A confirmation email is sent upon submission of the application. Please contact pcsupport@altum.com if you submitted your application and have not received a confirmation email within 10 minutes. Make sure your spam filters allow emails from pcsupport@altum.com.

  24. When will applicants be notified of their BTI fellow status?plus--large

    Applicants will be notified of their status in June 2021.

  25. What is the funding period? When will funding begin?plus--large

    Once the approval application has been submitted, Simons Foundation will coordinate with the Fellow about the timing of the award letter and start date. The principal investigator (PI) will receive research support at a fixed rate of $495,000 over three (3) years, including 20 percent for indirect costs (see Simons Foundation policies). The award is administered through the institution at which the PI has a tenure-track faculty appointment.

  26. May I accept a position in the department where I conducted my mentored research?plus--large

    Fellows are encouraged (but not required) to apply for independent positions in different departments and institutions from where they conducted their mentored research. It is important for all fellows, but especially fellows who intend to stay at their mentoring institution for their independent role, to submit a plan by which they will advance to independence.

  27. I am a BTI fellow and have received a tenure-track faculty offer letter. What do I do now?plus--large

    Contact the SCGB Scientific Staff, who may informally review your offer letter to flag any potential issues with activating the grant. Once you are ready to activate your BTI grant you must submit your award approval application within 2-3 months. To do this, you must submit the following documents through your appointment institution, using proposalCENTRAL:

    • Copy of tenure-track faculty appointment letter with confirmed research start-up package and laboratory space commitments
    • Updated research proposal
    • Updated biosketch for the PI
    • Current and pending support for the PI
    • Budget
    • Budget justification
    • Research environment and resources. Investigators should demonstrate access to appropriate facilities and resources for successful completion of the proposed research grant
    • Data-sharing plan
    • Signature page with institutional approval
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