Seed Grants

BIRC provides seed grants to facilitate the future development of external grant applications. Seed grants are provided in the form of a limited number of allocated hours on MRI, EEG and/or TMS equipment at BIRC. These hours are intended to enable investigators to demonstrate feasibility, develop scientific and technical expertise, establish collaborations, and, secondarily, publish in peer-reviewed journals. Seed grants are intended for investigators with experience in the proposed methods, as well as those with little or no experience who have developed a collaborative plan to acquire such experience. New investigators are encouraged to consult with BIRC leadership early in the development of their project.


  1. The principal investigator must be a UConn faculty member or a UConn graduate student/postdoc, in any department. Teams may also include students, postdocs, and other faculty members, as well as researchers from other institutions. Student/postdoc applicants’ supervisors will be ultimately responsible for grant performance and progress reports and must be listed as a co-PI on the application.
  2. Research teams must have sufficient expertise in study design, implementation, data acquisition, and data analysis, or must detail specific plans to develop this expertise. Plans to develop expertise may incorporate IBRAiN students, but applicants should review the IBRAiN policy.
  3. Proposed projects must not fit within the scope of funded research programs of any team member. Recipients of prior BIRC seed grants may submit continuation applications, e.g. in response to review requests for additional data.

Award Conditions

  1. Awards support MRI, TMS, and/or EEG usage at BIRC. Awards may not be used to cover any other research costs. Awards will typically support up to 20 1-hour MRI sessions, or 20 sessions of TMS or EEG time, or an additive combination of modalities (e.g. a multimodal study could request up to 20 MRI sessions and 20 EEG sessions). Additional time may be granted with appropriate justification (e.g. a study involves unusually long protocols, or multiple visits). When estimating the time needed per session, account for all setup and cleanup time.
  2. Projects must have IRB approval before awards are released.
  3. Any research products must acknowledge BIRC support. BIRC staff or IBRAIN fellows must be included as authors when they provide substantive theoretical, design, or analysis support.
  4. An annual is required, describing progress towards funding and any research products.
  5. Awards expire after one year. You may request a 6-month extension prior to the expiration date. Requests should be submitted 3 to 1 months prior to award expiration.
  6. Recipients must submit a study request form prior to data collection.

Review Criteria

Applications will be reviewed on the following criteria:

  1. Potential for external funding
  2. Scientific merit
  3. Likelihood of success
  4. Qualifications of the research team to complete the proposed work
  5. Outcome of past BIRC seed grants
  6. Availability of funds to support non-BIRC costs, such as participant payments and salary
  7. Financial need
  8. For studies proposing EEG as the sole modality, a justification for the use of high-density EEG at BIRC (as opposed to another lower density EEG system on campus) is required.

Required Pre-Application Inquiry

To ensure that resources are available to support your project and timeline, please email prior to preparing an application with a brief description of:

  • The BIRC equipment resources and number of hours to be requested (e.g. 20 hours of MRI).
  • Anticipated need for design or analytic support from BIRC/IBRAiN.
  • An approximate timeline for the use of BIRC resources (e.g. all data collection will take place in Fall 2021; data analysis to be completed by February 2022). Please consider the time needed for IRB approval, task development, etc., which may delay the start of data collection.
  • Any scheduling needs beyond standard hours (e.g. weekend/evening hours, time of day restrictions).
  • A few sentences on the general approach.
  • Any other concerns regarding logistics or equipment features.


Download and complete the application template and requested attachments. Formatting should adhere to NIH guidelines (font at least 11pt, .5 inch margins). Submit your completed application, including all attachments, as a single PDF file using the online form (select the BIRC Data Collection application if the form does not open directly). The form must be submitted by the PI or by the PI’s faculty supervisor in the case of student/postdoc applicants.

  1. Title of Application
  2. Abstract and Specific Aims (0.5 page maximum)
  3. Research Strategy. Briefly describe the significance and innovation of the proposed project; provide a summary of current literature to motivate the project; describe the approach you will use to address your aims, including experimental design, data acquisition plan, and data analysis plan (1.0 page maximum).
  4. Renewal Justification. (0.5 page maximum) For renewal applications, briefly describe your accomplishments during the original award period, provide new objectives for the renewal period, and explain why additional BIRC resources are needed to achieve these objectives. For example, if you have received external reviews, explain how additional BIRC funding will help address review comments and strengthen a resubmission.
  5. References
  6. Timeline and Funding Strategy. Include a timeline for data acquisition, data analysis and grant submission. Briefly describe appropriate funding opportunities and explain how the proposed seed grant will be used to support your grant submission. Describe your anticipated external total budget and anticipated budget for BIRC resources (0.5 page maximum).
  7. Key Personnel. List all personnel responsible for the design and implementation of the study. When the PI does not have documented expertise in the proposed methods, a plan for developing this expertise in collaboration with other members of the research team should be described. For student/postdoc applicants, their supervisor must be included as a co-PI.
  8. Budget. Specify and justify the number and duration (in multiples of 30 minutes) of MRI, EEG, and/or TMS sessions requested for seed funding. Requests for more than 20 sessions of MRI time require exceptional justification. List other costs needed to complete the proposed pilot project and source of funds.
  9. Attachments:
  • Biosketch: Include an NIH or NSF style biosketch for the PI(s). List all funding active within the last three years.
  • Other support: For each PI and co-I, list active and pending funding and scope in NIH format. Explain why the proposed project falls outside the scope of current and pending funding.
  • IRB protocol: Include a PDF of your complete pending or approved IRB protocol. If a protocol has not yet been submitted, include time to IRB approval in your timeline. Seed awards will not be released prior to IRB approval. BIRC provides template IRB language to facilitate UConn IRB approval of neuroimaging studies.
  • Grant reviews: For renewal applications, provide reviewer comments on your external funding application.
  • Supervisor letter of support: For graduate student/postdoc applications, the trainee’s supervisor must complete the letter of support template.

Revision History

Effective Spring 2021

  • Seed grant applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Effective Fall 2019

  • To better balance usage, seed grant applications will be accepted once per year, during the Spring term, based on our experience that studies generally will not start until the semester following the application.

Effective Spring 2019

  • Students/postdocs may apply as PIs, however their supervisors will be ultimately responsible for grant performance and progress reports and must be listed as a co-PI on the application.

Effective Fall 2018

  • Seed grants expire after 1 year, with a possible 6 month no cost extension
  • Annual reports are required for at least 5 years
  • Renewal applications will be accepted
  • MRI time is nominally capped at 20 sessions rather than 20 hours.
  • Change from rolling deadline to two annual submission cycles