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Spinal Cord Injury Research on the Translational Spectrum (SCIRTS)

Grants to USA and Canada Nonprofits for Research
in the Treatment of Acute and Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Craig H. Neilsen Foundation

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

11/16/21 5:00 PM ET


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Grants to USA and Canada nonprofit institutions for research to increase understanding and advance treatments for chronic and acute spinal cord injury. A letter of intent is required prior to submitting a full application. Research funding is available for postdoctoral fellowships, pilot research grants, and senior research grants and includes mechanistic, preclinical, translational, and/or clinical studies.

Spinal Cord Injury Research on the Translational Spectrum (SCIRTS) Portfolio Funding

Portfolio Specific Objectives:

The Neilsen Foundation funds projects that are designed to improve and advance current treatments for acute and chronic spinal cord injury. This portfolio emphasizes SCI (vs. spinal cord disease or related disorders) and is intended to fill gaps in the field and to further develop new strategies to restore function resulting from SCI. The Neilsen Foundation does not intend to provide continuous funding to individual labs but to fund novel research throughout the translational spectrum.

SCIRTS Grants support research projects that include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

Mechanistic Research, including the development of novel strategies aimed at:

  • Neuroprotection and/or elucidation of the pathological mechanisms that occur after SCI;
  • Pathophysiology of the injured spinal cord;
  • Promotion of neuronal survival, axonal regeneration, synaptogenesis, myelination, and functional connectivity after SCI;
  • Transplantation strategies for SCI recovery;
  • Pharmacological therapies to improve function after SCI;
  • Bioengineering solutions to improve function in persons with SCI; and
  • Chronic SCI and issues related to aging with SCI.

Preclinical, Translational Research that will enable future clinical trials, such as:

  • The effects of SCI and novel interventions on sensory and motor function;
  • Use of preclinical models of SCI to develop interventions to alleviate complications of SCI including bowel, bladder, sexual and other autonomic dysfunctions, respiratory dysfunction, neuropathic pain, pressure sores, osteoporosis and the effects of aging with SCI; and
  • Trial-enabling studies, e.g., to confirm the mechanism of action for novel therapeutics, dosing, toxicity, etc.

Clinical Research, such as:

  • Studies to establish the natural history and progression of functional outcomes over time after SCI;
  • Efforts to develop and validate outcome measures needed to facilitate definitive clinical trials in SCI populations; and
  • Testing of innovative rehabilitation strategies and devices in persons with SCI.

NOTE: Early phase clinical trials of novel investigational drug or cell/biologic interventions under regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are limited to the Senior Grant category. Postdoctoral fellows may participate in an approved trial supported by the Mentor’s other funding.

There are three funding categories in the SCIRTS portfolio:

SCIRTS Postdoctoral Fellowships

This funding is designed to encourage specialization in the field of SCI; Fellowships are intended to provide mentored training in SCI research to early-career investigators. The Fellowship Applicant (Fellow) should be mentored (or co-mentored) by an investigator experienced in SCI research.

SCIRTS Pilot Research Grants

This funding is intended to support pilot studies that lay essential groundwork, allow the PI to test the feasibility of novel methods and procedures and/or collect new data that can lead to or enhance larger-scale studies.

SCIRTS Senior Research Grants

This grant category focuses on highly innovative projects by established PIs exploring new areas of SCI research or filling important gaps in the SCI field. The goal is not to substitute for federal funding, but to use Neilsen Foundation funds to encourage cutting-edge ideas and approaches that have great potential, despite some additional risk. The importance of the research goal should balance the risk due to the early stage of innovation.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 183217

Estimated Size of Grant:

- Funding for Fellowships is up to $75,000 per year, for two years, for a maximum total cost of $150,000.
- Funding for Pilot grants is up to $150,000 per year, for two years; for a maximum total cost of $300,000.
- Funding for Senior grants is up to $200,000 per year, for three years, for a maximum total cost of $600,000.

Term of Contract:

- Two-year Postdoctoral Fellowships and Pilot Research Grants
- Three-year Senior Research Grants

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Grants are awarded only to qualifying nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada and are not awarded to individuals.

The following applies to all funding categories:
- Applicants must have a doctoral degree or an equivalent terminal professional degree (e.g., PhD, MD, DVM). Non-fellowship applicants must demonstrate appropriate experience to serve as an independent Principal Investigator (PI). The Neilsen Foundation encourages submissions from eligible PIs who represent a wide range of disciplines; however, it is required that relevant SCI expertise is represented on the proposed research project team.
- The grantee must be a nonprofit academic/research institution or rehabilitation facility located in the United States or Canada with a demonstrated capability to conduct grant-funded research.
- The Applicant is not required to be a citizen of the United States or Canada; however, the Applicant must be employed by an eligible grantee institution.
- Neilsen Foundation grants are not awarded to individuals, private foundations or on-functionally integrated Type III supporting organizations.
- The Applicant named in a grant application must be deemed eligible by his/her organization to apply for a grant and is expected to be responsible for conduct of the research. Each application must include the appropriate endorsement of an institutional official who is responsible for the administration of grant funds (hereafter known as the “Grants Administrator”).
- A PI may submit only one application in a given cycle in this portfolio.
- The Neilsen Foundation does not allow Co-Principal Investigators on its research grants. If two or more investigators are working together on a research project, one must serve as the PI; the other(s) should be listed as collaborator(s). Collaborators and/or consultants do not need to be affiliated with the same institution as the PI; a subcontract may be used to support a domestic or international collaborator or consultant.
- Multiple PIs from an institution may submit concurrent, independent applications in a given grant cycle. In such cases, each project must be distinct, with non-overlapping Aims.
- The Neilsen Foundation discourages Postdoctoral Fellows and their mentor(s) from submitting concurrent applications with overlapping Aims to multiple funding categories within this portfolio.
- It may not be necessary to provide preliminary data. Neilsen Foundation funding may be sought to allow the Applicant to obtain data to establish a line of research if the proposal provides strong rationale (e.g., support from the literature or use in an indication other than SCI) that justifies testing the hypotheses with the proposed experimental design. However, if feasibility issues add an unacceptable risk of failure, reviewers may note that preliminary data to address this risk should be provided.

For other requirements and details for funding within the three grant categories please see:

Pre-Application Information:

- April 30, 2021: Letter of Intent opens for 2022 cycle
- June 11, 2021: Letter of Intent closes for 2022 cycle
- September 30, 2021: Letter of Intent Results announced for 2022 cycle
- November 16, 2021: Full Grant Applications due for 2022 cycle

The proposalCENTRAL online submission system will automatically close at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on the due date.

The Foundation strongly recommends that you begin the application process in proposalCENTRAL well in advance of all deadlines.

Only Applicants invited to apply through the current cycle’s LOI process may submit a Full Grant Application (FGA). Applicants will be notified via email whether they are invited to submit an FGA, or if the LOI has been declined.

- Areas of Funding:
- How to Apply:
- ProposalCENTRAL tutorial section:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online through proposalCENTRAL:

For technical questions regarding the online submission process, contact proposalCENTRAL Customer Service at (800) 875-2562 or via email at, during business hours.

For questions regarding an application’s submission status, contact Ehrica Hernandez, Grants Management Associate, at

For questions regarding this portfolio contact both:
- Tracey Wheeler, PhD (SCIRTS Program Officer) at
- Jacob Shreckengost, PhD (SCIRTS Program Associate) at

If there are any questions about an institution/organization’s nonprofit status, contact Kim Cerise, Director of Grants Management (

Craig H. Neilsen Foundation
16830 Ventura Blvd, Suite 352
Encino, CA 91436
Phone: 818-925-1245

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

Canada: Alberta;   British Columbia;   Manitoba;   New Brunswick;   Newfoundland and Labrador;   Northwest Territories;   Nova Scotia;   Nunavut;   Ontario;   Prince Edward Island;   Quebec;   Saskatchewan;   Yukon;

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