2024 SCIRTS Senior Research Grants


Opportunity type:



Craig H. Neilsen Foundation

Award amount and duration:

up to $800,000 over 3 years




  • Applicants must have a doctoral degree or an equivalent terminal professional degree (e.g., PhD, MD, DVM).
  • 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 the 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.
  • Applicants must be independent investigators in a position equivalent to Associate Professor or above, employed at the grantee institution at the time of the full grant application submission.
  • The Applicant named in a grant application must be deemed eligible by the grantee 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 (i.e., 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.


The Craig H. Neilson Foundation

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation is the largest private funder of spinal cord injury research, rehabilitation, clinical training, and programmatic support in the United States and Canada. The Neilsen Foundation partners with scientific, charitable, and educational organizations conducting spinal cord injury research, training in spinal cord medicine, and supports grassroots organizations providing services to assist individuals affected by spinal cord injury. The Neilsen Foundation values diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility and is dedicated to improving the world for persons with spinal cord injury.

The SCIRTS Portfolio

The SCIRTS Portfolio advances novel approaches to improving function and developing curative therapies after SCI. This research is designed to improve understanding and advance the treatment of acute and chronic SCI and includes mechanistic, preclinical, translational and/or clinical studies. This portfolio emphasizes SCI (vs. diseases or disorders that secondarily affect the spinal cord) 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. This portfolio comprise three distinct funding opportunities: SCIRTS Postdoctoral Fellowships*, SCIRTS Pilot Research Grants, and SCIRTS Senior Research Grants.

* For more information on SCIRTS Postdoctoral Fellowships, please contact rsotrainee@ucalgary.ca

2024 SCIRTS Senior Research Grants

Three-year Senior Research Grants encourage senior-level investigators to expand the scope of their work into new directions through targeted studies with high potential to move the field forward. These grants are intended to encourage investigators to open new areas of research, fill gaps in the spinal cord injury field, and test cutting-edge ideas and approaches.

Eligible applicants are established, independent investigators in a position equivalent to Associate Professor or above, employed at the grantee institution at the time of the FGA submission. Key criteria include the importance of the proposed research and likelihood that success will move the field forward, the PI’s history of productivity and contributions to their field, and whether this research is a new direction for the established investigator. Applicants should carefully consider their qualifications and the relevance of their proposal to the Senior versus Pilot Research Grant category before submitting an application.

This grant category focuses on transformative projects that fill important gaps in the SCI field. Senior Research Grants are intended to encourage pursuit of new avenues, enable paradigm shifts, or support decisive translational steps in developing SCI treatments. The goal is not to substitute for federal funding but to use Neilsen Foundation funds to foster cutting-edge ideas and approaches that have great potential, despite inherent risk.  Funding is for up to three years, for a maximum total cost of $800,000, and cannot exceed $300,000 in any year of the grant.


10% of the total cost of the grant. 


Pre-application deadlines

RSO internal deadline

June 6, 2023 - 12:00 PM

Pre-application program deadline

June 9, 2023 - 3:00 PM

Application deadlines

RSO detailed review deadline

October 27, 2023 - 12:00 PM

RSO final internal review deadline

November 7, 2023 - 12:00 PM

Program application deadline

November 10, 2023 - 3:00 PM


NOTE: Consult your Faculty Associate Dean (Research) (ADR) regarding Faculty-specific deadlines and submission processes.

Principal Investigators: Complete a Research Management System (RMS) record, including a copy of your complete application, and submit this for approvals in RMS.

Approvals: The University of Calgary requires that all funding applications be approved prior to submission. Approval requires signatures via either RMS or the RFAA Trainee form, in the following order:

  • Principal Investigator
  • Department Head
  • Faculty ADR/Dean
  • Research Services (on behalf of the Vice-President Research)

Read the Meaning of Grant Signatures policy to understand what your approval means. Please see the agency guidelines for details about which signatures are required on your application, as it may differ from internal requirements.

Late submissions: Late submissions will only be accepted in cases of medical or family emergencies, or other exceptional circumstances. If you submit your RMS record to Research Services after the internal deadline has passed, you must secure additional approvals. Please read: Late Applications Process.

Additional Information

Submission Requirements

For each cycle, the application process begins with a LOI. Full grant applications will only be accepted from Applicants invited through the most recent LOI competition. The Neilsen Foundation uses the web-based grants system, ProposalCentral (https://ProposalCentral.altum.com), to review and manage its grants. 

The LOI stage requires internal institutional approval prior to submission. To initiate required University of Calgary internal approvals, complete a Pre-Award/Letter of Intent record in RMS (https://my.rms.ucalgary.ca/), attaching a copy of your completed LOI materials, and submit for approvals from your department head and/or faculty Associate Dean (Research). NOTE: when submitting in RMS, please ensure that you allow time for academic approvals prior to the Research Services Office internal review deadline of 12:00pm MT, June 6, 2023.

Additional Resources

2024 Application Guide

Knowledge Translation Guiding Principles 

Contact Details


2024 SCIRTS Senior Research Grants
Craig H. Neilsen Foundation
Spinal Cord Injury Research on the Translational Spectrum
International Foundations