The McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience supports research initiatives at Washington University. Two funding opportunities are supported by the Center: small grant proposals and new resource proposals.

Small Grant Proposals

The Center has an ongoing small grants program to support promising new research initiatives within the Washington University neuroscience community.  Applications are welcomed from investigators whose research fits within the Center’s overall mission, which is to improve our understanding of information processing and other integrative functions of the brain in health and disease.  Areas appropriate for support include perception, language, learning and memory, sensory-motor processing, attention, emotion, and related cognitive functions.  Applications are encouraged from faculty not previously supported by either of the McDonnell Centers.  Applications must originate from faculty at Washington University.  The Center encourages interdisciplinary approaches that enhance interactions between clinical and basic researchers and between theorists and experimentalists. Your application should make clear how the proposed research fits within the mission of the Center.

This program is intended to promote pilot projects, collaborative ventures and significant new research directions that are not readily supported by standard grant sources.  Grants will be for periods of one or two years, with a maximum budget of $40,000 per year, starting July 1 of the award year.  Funds can include equipment, operating expenses, and/or salary for personnel, including Postdoctoral Research Associates (but not for faculty or graduate students).  Travel requests should be modest.

Proposals must respect limits on the number of pages, font size, and margins, as described in the instructions on the first page of the application form.

Biosketches will be accepted in the current or new NIH form.

Proposals not conforming to the limits may be returned without review.

Fiscal Year 2020 Application Process

The FY20 grant application process is now closed. FY21 grant application will open in January 2020.

For additional information, contact Carmen Horn.

New Resource Proposals

Requests for New Resource Proposals are meant to be very flexible. Such requests are encouraged from all members of all Schools at Washington University with an interest in Systems Neuroscience, broadly defined.  The requests can be any size within the available resources of the Center, and should not be bound by any fixed amount requirement.  Recent allocations have ranged from sharing in an honorarium with multiple groups to small research grants to significant cost sharing in recruitment and grant support.

Although the guidelines for these New Resource Proposals are very flexible, some general rules for prioritization exist.  Resources from the Center are meant to enhance or enable Systems Neuroscience research, but are not meant to act as primary support.  Thus, requests for one-time or limited time support are favored over requests for ongoing resources. Relatedly, we will favor requests with some evidence that the resources requested will lead to new or expanded outside funding over requests that do not.  A further priority of the Center is to encourage new research directions and collaborations.  As such, we will prioritize requests that will benefit multiple investigators rather than single investigators, and new interactions rather than existing interactions.

All applicants must be faculty at Washington University and must submit a biosketch with their application. In addition, if the faculty member is an instructor or on a non-tenure track (clinical or research track), the application must include a letter of support from the applicant’s Department Head.

Because we anticipate that the nature of the requests will vary, there is no application form.  Requests should be initiated by a brief letter of inquiry to the Center Director (  In this email, state your request level, why you are making the request, and why it is appropriate for funding from the Center for Systems Neuroscience.

The Director will then request any further information regarding the request, if necessary.  For small requests, decisions can be made very quickly if necessary.  For larger requests, more scrutiny will be involved, and more information may be requested. Requests can be made to the Center at any time; there are no fixed deadlines. All such requests will be reviewed.