Applications for this grant are no longer being accepted.

Two-Year SPARC Awards to Catalyze Brain Health Research




The Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health is providing $1,000,000 in Scientific Projects to Accelerate Research and Collaboration (SPARC) awards to be distributed in partnership with Mass General Neuroscience and the Mass General Research Institute. The purpose of these awards is to catalyze the formation of multidisciplinary teams to take the crucial first steps that will ultimately lead to a sustained reduction in the suffering caused by nervous system disease and impaired brain function. These awards will catalyze the creation of new scientific communities with a focus on making discoveries that will rapidly yield meaningful impact for patients. The McCance Center is specifically interested in advancing one or more of the following areas:

  • Prevention of brain disease
  • Preserving and/or improving brain function across the lifespan
  • Leveraging neuroscience in any context that will improve the health span
  • Creating scientific resources of broad interest to the neuroscience community

Successful SPARC proposals will be those that assemble multidisciplinary teams of outstanding investigators in order to enable them to solve the most pressing challenges in human health that are within the scope of the current request. Because solving these challenges will require more time and more resources than provided by these SPARC awards, PIs and their teams must make the case for how this SPARC will get them started.

Applications will be reviewed by a committee of neuroscience investigators and funds will be administered by the Mass General Research Institute.  Awards will be given up to a total of $150,000 for a one or two-year budget period, inclusive of 15% indirect costs. Recipients will be expected to present at the 2nd Annual Neuroscience Day on September 5th, 2019, provide annual progress reports to the Steering Committee, and host an annual team meeting to be attended by leaders from the McCance Center and Mass General Neuroscience.


About the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health
The mission of the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health is to maximize human potential through brain health, by catalyzing and conducting innovative multidisciplinary research that focuses on preventing brain disease and preserving and improving brain function across the lifespan.


About Mass General Neuroscience
Mass General is home to a vibrant, innovative, and caring neuroscience community. Across the hospital, thousands of specialists and researchers are dedicated to treating and curing brain and nervous system disorders. Driven by clinicians and scientists from virtually every department and center at the hospital, Mass General Neuroscience is home to one of the world’s largest neuroscience communities. Accounting for just over a third of the Mass General research enterprise, our neuroscience investigators are ideally positioned to tackle humanity’s most pressing neuroscience challenges. With our rich, long-standing culture of collaboration, we have all the crucial resources in place to push scientific boundaries in the relentless pursuit of effective treatments that empower our patients’ potential.


APPLICATIONS DUE: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

FUNDING PERIOD: Late Summer (TBD), 2019 – Late Summer (TBD), 2021 


Please click here to apply.



Successful applications must demonstrate the following:

  • An outstanding multidisciplinary team committed to solving a pressing challenge for the field. Team members should have a track record of working successfully in teams, although may be new to the specific team proposed in the grant.
  • Evidence of a compelling long-term vision that extends well-beyond the duration of the SPARC award, and toward measurable improvement in patient health and well-being. The intent of the SPARC award is to get teams started or measurably strengthened in their pursuit of substantially larger long-term support from industry, philanthropic sources, federal sources or other sources.



  • Principal investigator(s) must hold an MGH faculty appointment (Instructor through Full Professor) in any department.
  • Awards are for new projects and should not extend ongoing or previous work.
  • Awards are not intended to be used as bridging support.



  • Potential to generate a lasting collaborative effort that will transform the field
  • Scope and distinction of the team
  • Potential to catalyze growth of cross-disciplinary brain health research at MGH
  • Scientific merit and novelty
  • Likelihood that preliminary data will be generated that could attract additional funding from federal, industry, or philanthropic sources



Funds may be used at investigators’ discretion for completion of the project, for example:

  • Meeting support to bring teams together
  • Salary support (RA, post-doc, investigator)
  • Research supplies
  • Equipment



Applications will be evaluated and ranked for funding priority by a Steering Committee consisting of neuroscience researchers from across the hospital. The Steering Committee recommendations will be submitted to McCance and Neuroscience leadership for final approval. Applicants will be notified in late Summer 2019.



As a new SPARC mechanism, we anticipate there will be questions.  We will host webinars on the following dates to answer specific questions. To register for a webinar, please email


Wednesday, April 3rd 2019 at 8:00 AM

Wednesday, April 24th 2019 at 4:00 PM


Additionally, more information can be found on our FAQ document.



The application process requires the following 6 items to be submitted:

  1. Title of Research Project
  2. Project Proposal (2-page limit, excluding references) to include a description of the problem to be solved; long-term strategy and how this award will provide the essential first step toward success; and rationale for the team members selected. This section should include:
    • Precise description of the problem to be solved
    • Rationale for team composition including description of how team will coordinate/communicate
    • Specific aims
    • Background and significance
    • Preliminary data (optional)
    • Experimental design and methods
    • Next steps & long-term Impact
  3. Performance Sites & Key Personnel (1 page)
  4. NIH Biosketches for Key Personnel, including all proposed team members
  5. NIH formatted Other Support page for lead investigator(s) only. Be sure to list all current and pending research support including dollar amounts. Please click here for a sample NIH formatted Other Support.
  6. Proposed Budget (up to $150,000 total costs across 2 years maximum, inclusive of 15% indirect costs)



We are now accepting applications online via the Mass General Research Institute Online Grant Management Portal.

Please click here to apply.


This user-friendly system allows MGH researchers to submit electronic applications. The system has been designed to allow users to:

• Create a personal profile which will auto populate your future applications

• View current calls and apply to open opportunities

• Assign a delegate to submit an application on behalf of the applicant (optional)

• Save and edit current applications in progress

• Submit completed applications

• View all your applications that have been submitted via the online grants system


Instructions for Applying Online

  1. Create your account: Login using your Partners credentials and fill-out the profile information.
  2. Complete the application: once your profile is complete, you will automatically progress through the online application. If you cannot complete the application at one time, “save” the application and return to it at a later time to finish. Before submitting your application, you will have the ability to make changes to the application.
  3. Submit your application: once you have completed the application click on the “submit” button at the bottom of the page. Once you submit it, you will not be able to make further changes unless you send a request to Mass General Neuroscience at (note that once the deadline passes, request to make changes will not be accepted).


Useful tips:

  • To avoid losing your work, remember to save frequently.
  • You can only upload PDF documents. Limit characters to A-Z, a-z and 0-9 when naming PDF documents. Do not use periods, commas, or dashes in the file name.
  • If you previously created a profile, please ensure your information is current.


Click apply below to start your application.



Please see our FAQ document to learn more.

Feel free to reach out to with additional questions.