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Internal Grants

The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute (OBI) offers a variety of grant programs to support innovative research and collaborations among UT Southwestern scientists.

The OBI's internal grants fund brain research as well as research interest groups designed to connect and build working relationships among researchers with a shared focus.

Applications will re-open September 1, 2023.

Visionary Neuroscience Program (VNP)

The VNP grant supports highly innovative new research that because of its novelty and risk profile is not suitable for NIH funding. Maximum funding per project is up to $500,000.

Who is eligible?

Research projects must feature approved OBI Investigators from at least two different departments. Some level of interaction between basic science and clinical faculty is desirable but not required. Single PI and multi-PI applications are allowed.

What areas of research will be considered?

  • Cell and molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease
  • Delineation and/or modulation of normal and disease-altered brain circuits
  • Development of diagnostic tests
  • Identification of biological markers of disease
  • Determination of the effectiveness of drugs; and/or, the development of devices that could be used in the detection, treatment, prevention, or tracking of neurodegenerative diseases

What is the level of support?

The maximum total funding per project is up to $500,000 (up to $250,000 per year with a maximum project duration of three years)

See full details and how to apply.

Sprouts Grant Program

Sprouts grants facilitate the collection of pilot data exploring new directions that are not easily covered by other funding sources. Funding is intended to encourage creative, high-quality research that also advances the training of young laboratory or clinical scientists and enhance the portfolio of OBI research. 

Who is eligible? These awards are primarily aimed at supporting new ideas from trainees working with OBI Investigators. The PI must be a trainee working under the supervision of an OBI Investigator (e.g., a graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, resident or clinical fellow). 

What areas of research are being considered? All brain-related research areas are eligible, including both laboratory and clinical research. Preference will be given to proposals in the following areas:

  • Cell and molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease
  • Delineation and/or modulation of normal and disease-altered brain circuits

What is the level of support? We will award up to four grants annually subject to availability of funds. The maximum total funding per project is up to $25,000. 

See full details and how to apply.

Research Interest Group Program

Who is eligible? The lead applicant must be an approved OBI Investigator or Member. Group members can be from any UT Southwestern department.

What can the funds be used for? The awards will support researchers to organize and hold networking events, focused workshops, or to host an outside speaker. Funds can also be used for refreshments.

What type of groups can apply? The content and agenda of the research interest group should reflect the OBI mission for transdisciplinary research and involve faculty from at least two UTSW departments (preferably more).

See full details and how to apply.

The winning interest groups for 2021 are listed below. Please contact the group administrator for more information regarding membership and meeting times.

Administrator: Susan Hayes
Members: Maria Chahrour, Ph.D. Patricia Evans, M.D., Ph.D. Kimberly Goodspeed, M.D. Kimberly Huber, Ph.D. Genevieve Konopka, Ph.D. Peter Tsai, M.D., Ph.D.

Circadian Rhythm and Sleep
Administrator: Shelley Dixon
Members: Joseph Takahashi, Ph.D. Robert Greene, M.D., Ph.D. Carla Green, Ph.D. Shin Yamazaki, Ph.D. Yi Liu, Ph.D. Joel Elmquist, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Administrator: Benjamin Fields
Members: Daisuke Hattori, Ph.D. Todd Roberts, Ph.D. Steven Shabel, Ph.D. Peter Tsai, M.D., Ph.D.

Neuron-glia Interaction
Administrator: Thomas Crone
Members: Lu Sun, Ph.D. Jiang Wu, Ph.D. Chun-Li Zhang, Ph.D. Ram Madabhushi, Ph.D. Yingfei Wang, Ph.D.

Administrator: Ashlyn Strength
Members: Helen Lai, Ph.D. Mark Henkemeyer, Ph.D. Allan-Hermann Pool, Ph.D. Ryan Butler, Ph.D. Enas Kandil, M.D.