New Scholar and Senior Scholar Awards in Neuroscience - Application Procedures


Violence and antisocial aggression place an enormous burden on society.  Individual differences in the propensity to exhibit aggression, like other social behaviors and temperaments, involves an intricate mix of innate predisposing factors, environmental influences and the interplay between these forces. A deeper understanding of the interactions between genetic and environmental factors to increase the risk of violent behavior may offer great potential to guide the approaches our criminal justice and public health systems employ to deal with aggression, family violence and antisocial behavioral disorders.

At the same time, aggression is one of the most widespread and characteristic behaviors in the animal kingdom and it is critical for animal fitness and survival.  Animals use aggressive behaviors to defend themselves, secure food and mates, compete for resources, and maintain social hierarchies. Converging lines of evidence indicate that many basic “core” brain mechanisms that regulate social behaviors like aggression have distinct features that are shared across species, and that a common underlying neural architecture may be dedicated for social interactions among members of a species.

The goal of this program is to support innovative, basic neuroscience research that often falls outside the scope of traditional funding sources: such research may include projects involving the application of new concepts or new technologies whose feasibility is not yet proven; projects seeking commonalities among social and anti-social behaviors that might yield new insights into neural mechanisms of aggression and related violent disorders; or projects seeking to bring together diverse scientific disciplines in the study of aggression and social behaviors. 

Specific topics of interest include: molecular, cellular and genetic approaches to identify the fundamental neural circuits that regulate aggression and other social behaviors; studies of the effects of aggression and social interactions on brain and behavior; studies of aggressive and related “pro-social” behaviors in model organisms from invertebrates to lower vertebrates, rodents and non-human primates; functional imaging and cognitive science approaches to define the core mechanisms and neural architecture of aggression in humans; studies to examine the development of aggression and the control of impulsive tendencies in children; and studies to identify the interacting genetic and environmental factors that increase the risk of aggression and anti-social pathologies or conversely promote resilience to protect from the harmful effects of violence in humans.


Candidates for either the New or Senior Scholar in Neuroscience award will apply by first submitting a brief letter of intent. Those candidates in the first three (3) years of an independent research career will be considered eligible for a New Scholar award and will be evaluated separately. All other applicants are eligible for the Senior Scholar award (independent of faculty rank or tenure status). For the 2013 competition, candidates must hold regular full time appointments (tenure or non-tenure) on the faculty of the sponsoring institution by June 15, 2013. Each New Scholar award will be made for up to $100,000 per year, total costs, for a four year period. Senior Scholar awards will be made for up to $150,000 direct costs per year, plus full indirect costs at the institution's NIH negotiated rate, for up to four years. Funding for years two, three and four is contingent upon submission of an acceptable progress report. Note that a budget is not required at the letter of intent stage, but will be requested of those candidates that are invited to submit a full proposal following the initial review.

The following file may be downloaded and used as a guide to prepare your letter of intent. Instructions for the 2013 Neuroscience Scholar Letter of Intent

You must complete the Neuroscience Scholar Letter of Intent ONLINE at:

The deadline for online submission of the New or Senior Scholar Letter of Intent is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 21, 2013

Those invited to submit a full application on the basis of their Letter of Intent will be notified of their selection and provided with application instructions in August, 2013. The Senior Scholar full applications will be due in late September, 2013.

Neuroscience Scholar awardees will be notified in early November, 2013.

The earliest possible start date of the award is dependent on completion of the award agreement with the grantee institution.


For the 2013 application cycle, any investigator employed by a US-based 501(c)(3) institution, college or university is eligible to submit a letter of intent. The program will support collaborations with non-US researchers when appropriate for the goals of the project. To be considered eligible for the New Scholar award, applicants must have been in such an appointment, whether at the sponsoring institution or other institution(s), for no more than three years as of November 15, 2013, i.e. the first appointment having been made no earlier than November 15, 2010. Time spent in clinical internships, post-doctoral training, residencies, or in work toward board certification does not count as part of the three-year limit.


Evaluation will be performed by the Foundation’s Neuroscience Initial Review Group and the Scientific Advisory Board. Applicants for the Senior Scholar in Neuroscience Award are expected to furnish evidence of substantial prior scientific creativity and productivity, not necessarily targeted to Aggression research heretofore. Applicants for the New Scholar in Neuroscience award are expected to demonstrate great promise as potential leaders in fundamental Neuroscience research. The Review Group and Scientific Advisory Board will evaluate the applicant’s submission based on scientific contributions to date, the quality of publications, and the importance of the proposed new research to understanding fundamental cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms that influence aggression and related behavior. In the case of New Scholar submissions, reference letters provided by those who know the applicant and his/her work will also be used in the evaluation process. Up to 5 New Scholar and 5 Senior Scholar awards will be made in 2013.

Terms of the Award

Acceptable uses for award funds include project-related: salaries, other personnel costs, equipment, supplies, resource acquisition and travel. Carry-overs in excess of $25,000 must be approved by the Foundation. Indirect costs are not permitted on equipment, even for purchases less than $5,000.

NOTE: A budget is NOT required at the letter of intent stage.

If selected for funding, awards supporting research involving human subjects, animal subjects, research collaborations with foreign institutions, biosafety issues, or human embryonic stem cells the Foundation will require the following documentation before an award can be made:

  1. Human subjects:
    1. Copies of the protocol submitted to the Institutional Review Board(s) for this project* and the notification of protocol approval from all relevant IRBs (for funded awards, an annual update will be required at the time of the progress report).
    2. Documentation from the applicant institution that the principal investigator has completed training on the protection of human research participants.
  2. Animal subjects:
    1. A copy of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approval for this project* (for funded awards, an annual update will be required at the time of the progress report).
  3. Foreign component:
    1. A letter of support from the collaborating in-country institution, signed by an appropriate official of that institution.
  4. Biosafety: Research supported by The Ellison Medical Foundation is expected to conform to the relevant NIH Guidelines for biosafety, including those for handling of hazardous reagents and those for research involving recombinant DNA and gene transfer. (see:
    1. A copy of Institutional Biosafety Committee approval for this project*.
  5. Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Committee approval of the protocol for this project* if it involves human embryonic stem cells.

*Approval for this project means the EMF-funded project, not a similar protocol funded by another entity.

Address any questions to:

Kevin Lee, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Phone: 212-577-9255