Charles A. Dana Foundation: David Mahoney Neuroimaging Program


The Dana Foundation's neuroimaging research program focuses on improving human brain and brain-immune functioning to promote health, and prevent and treat disease. Funds support pilot-testing by investigators, who are early in their research careers, to enable them to pursue promising, high-risk, and innovative ideas that have a direct clinical application. The pilot data are anticipated to help increase competitiveness for seeking larger-scale support from other funders. Grant amounts for each study may be up to $200,000 total, payable over three years. Applicants will be informed within eight weeks of the preliminary proposal deadline on whether they are invited to prepare full proposals.

The Program is designed to enable investigators to obtain pilot data more quickly than is possible through other funding processes. Please note that this will be The Dana Foundation's only proposal solicitation process this year, and selection will be extremely competitive.

This program, like all other Dana-supported research, is designed to improve human health. Investigations need to be applicable to human brain or brain-immune functioning or malfunctioning. To be considered for funding, submitted proposals should focus on imaging in patients or patient tissues, and healthy volunteers.

Applications for animal model studies of brain conditions or injuries will be considered only if they relate directly to humans but cannot yet feasibly be undertaken in humans, and are anticipated to be translated into human research following the three-year grant period. Such studies include research on:

  1. Normal brain anatomy and physiology in the animal model that can help to better understand the roles of cells and networks in specific cognitive functions and how these are altered by disease or injury; and

  2. Animal models of human diseases, either through transgenic methods or through naturally occurring or induced disease states that are directly related to the human condition. Specific criteria for animal model studies are listed in the section on Eligibility.

Previously funded studies under this program have focused primarily on:

  1. Understanding normal brain functioning, how it is altered by disease or injury, and how it recovers or repairs;

  2. Assessing and improving diagnostic and therapeutic approaches; and

  3. Refining and advancing imaging technologies to address specific clinical questions.

In addition to these three general areas of continued interest, it is becoming increasingly apparent that neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and depression, start long before they are clinically evident. The foundation, therefore, encourages studies that seek to understand developmental processes of disease, surrogate measures of early disease existence, and measures of disease progression.

The foundation invites each institution to submit one preliminary application, using either or both:

  • Physiological and Structural Imaging - anatomical imaging of white or gray matter and measures of physiological functioning. These proposed studies should focus on patient-oriented clinical research;

  • Cellular/Molecular Imaging - biochemical actions of specific brain cells, or their interactions with immune cells, which have direct clinical relevance to human health and disease. These studies may involve human tissues or animal models. Applications can involve the study of cells within neural circuits, using a combination of imaging and single-cell electrical recording, if the techniques have already been developed.

The official announcement and description of this opportunity will be found on the sponsor's website in December 2018.

Number of Applications
Amount of Funding

up to $200,000, payable over three years


Applicants are encouraged to consult with their Associate Deans for Research prior to internal submission to assure they meet eligibility criteria and their projects meet stated program objectives.

Each U.S. medical school dean may nominate one applicant. The applicant may use either physiological/structural or cellular imaging or both. To be considered under this program, the application must be countersigned by the medical school dean.

Investigators at institutions that are affiliated with a medical school are eligible to apply only through their affiliated medical school. Projects involving collaborations with NIH intramural researchers or industry scientists are acceptable.

 Support is focused on faculty researchers who have demonstrated the potential for independent research careers who are at the assistant professor level, or in the first few years of their associate professor appointment. Postdoctoral fellows are not eligible to apply. Applications from junior investigators that are an extension of the work of a senior mentor, particularly if from the same institution, are discouraged.

Funding of up to $200,000 payable over three years is provided for proposed neuroimaging studies undertaken by promising early-career investigators who have not yet been awarded more than one independent research grant (R01 from the NIH or equivalent from another federal agency).

The foundation does not provide support for indirect costs. However, up to 10 percent of the total grant award may be used to purchase equipment for the study. The balance is to be used to meet direct research costs. Research that can be supported through clinical income should not be submitted. Studies should be designed to obtain meaningful data within the grant award period of up to three years.

 All applicants please note:
  • All proposals that seek to develop new imaging techniques or assays, or modify existing ones to address clinical questions--whether in structural/physiological or cellular/molecular imaging--must provide preliminary evidence of feasibility and evidence of the investigator’s experience in using the technology. Proposals seeking support without such preliminary evidence will not be considered.

  • Investigators proposing patient-oriented studies should provide preliminary evidence that the required number of participants--patients and controls--are available at involved research institution(s).

  • For all proposals that do not propose to undertake studies in humans or human tissue, the direct relevance to human health and functioning needs to be explicitly stated. These proposed studies will only be considered if they are designed to:

  1. Pose a specific question concerning the disease process that is directly related to known aspects of brain pathology seen in the human;

  2. Alter a factor in a healthy animal for which there is some evidence of the factor’s involvement in a human disease process (as opposed to altering a factor in a healthy animal to see if the result resembles a human brain disease); and

  3. Be translated into studies in the human following the three-year grant period.

  • Certain areas are not appropriate for consideration:

  1. Ideas for which you do not have preliminary data;

  2. Instrument development without initial evidence of feasibility and clinical applicability.

Submission Process

Step 1

In ONE PDF, please provide:

  1. A one-page, 12-point font, one-inch margin cover letter, including PI name, department/division, school/college, project title and brief summary of how the project will help reveal how the human brain functions normally, how disorders and injuries alter these functions, how various therapies affect these conditions, and/or immune cell interactions with brain cells, and

  2. An NIH or NSF style biosketch

Please send this PDF as an e-mail attachment to Stephanie Endy at by 5pm EST December 11, 2018.

Step 2

Final nominees will be notified of their selection by December 21, 2018.

Step 3

Final proposal must be received by the Office of Research Administration by January 28, 2019 at 5:00pm EST.

Step 4

Final proposal must be received by the sponsor by February 4, 2019 at 3:00pm EST (ANTICIPATED)


Abstract or LOI to ORA Chosen Proposal Announced ORA Final Proposal Due Date Sponsor Submission Deadline Days Until Due
12/11/2018 12/21/2018 01/28/2019 02/04/2019 CLOSED