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Food Allergy Seed Grants

This opportunity is currently closed.

Today, nearly 10% of children have a food allergy. The threat of anaphylactic reactions is a constant fear for children and their parents, and a diagnosis of food allergy can incur more anxiety and impair quality of life more than a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Despite numerous advances in understanding the factors that influence immune tolerance to foods, we have no cure in sight. We have no tests to show which children will have more severe reactions than others. We need to spur research in food allergies that expands our knowledge of the gut microbiome, environmental influences, the underlying genetics of susceptibility, and epigenetic factors including aging. We need technological improvements in the diagnostics and in the tools to implement and deliver therapies. To motivate additional research in food allergy at UCLA, the UCLA Food Allergy Center is pleased to announce its Seed Grant program for Fall 2019, co-funded with the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (UCLA CTSI). 

The goals of the Seed Grant program are to stimulate research in Food Allergy and prepare projects for applications to the NIH, foundations, or other extramural funding sources. The Seed Grant program is open to food allergy-related research projects including basic, translational, clinical or epidemiology/population research.

The UCLA CTSI is a research partnership of UCLA, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and the The Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Its mission is to bring biomedical innovations to bear on the greatest health needs of Los Angeles—the largest and one of the most ethnically, socially and economically diverse counties in the United States. 

Questions to be tackled include, but are not limited to: Who develops food allergy and why? How do gut bacteria influence food allergy? What does it mean to outgrow food allergy or develop tolerance? Can we improve the diagnosis of food allergies without food challenges? What determines the severity of a food allergy?

Up to three seed grants will be offered in 2019-2020. Seed grants will provide up to $100,000 for one year. Seed grant funds cannot be used for faculty salary support. At the conclusion of each Seed Grant award, the team must submit a short, written progress report, along with a financial statement showing any unexpended balances. The Seed Grant awardees will present in a short symposium. Additionally, the Food Allergy Center will periodically reach out to past Seed Grant recipients for updates on publications, grants, etc. that developed as a result of Seed Grant funding.

Seed Grants are for a one-year funding period and it is expected that recipients will fully expend all funds within that time frame. NCEs (at most six months) must be requested within 45 days of the budget period’s end date and are not guaranteed. 

Faculty with PI privileges in the UCLA Schools of Medicine, Engineering, Dentistry, Nursing, or Life Sciences are eligible to apply. We emphasize the creation of new, multidisciplinary teams of researchers but will allow proposals that retain productive teams that are unable to function due to the current funding environment. We encourage applications from projects that are extensively utilizing cores and that form strong collaborations between faculty and cores.

The review process provides investigators with constructive feedback that will help in the preparation of applications to extramural funding agencies. Applicants may be requested to provide a formal response to reviewer comments during the review process. Unsuccessful applicants may address the critiques and reapply. Review criteria include:

  • The significance, innovation, approach and especially feasibility of the proposal given a one-year time frame
  • The prospect for making an impact in food allergy
  • The quality of the investigator’s past work 
  • Relevance to food allergy 
  • The likelihood of the seed grant project leading to the submission of an extramurally-funded grant
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations are encouraged
  • Projects related to thematic areas of diagnostics, microbiome, engineered immunity, and genetics are encouraged but the grants will not be restricted to these subjects

Proposals involving human and/or experimental animal subjects may be required to share details of institutional approvals before funding can begin. 

Deadline extended! The deadline for application submission is November 15, 2019 by 11:59 pm (Pacific). Start date is January 1, 2020.

Applications should include:

  • Cover page with title and name(s) of investigators, contact information for the corresponding PI
  • NIH biosketch(es) from all key personnel
  • A three-page proposal (including figures but not including references). Preliminary data are encouraged in proposals, especially to support feasibility of technological innovations and that support conceptual innovation
  • Budget (in the form of a spreadsheet and justification)

Please submit the application as a single PDF file to Alexis Stephens at avstephens@mednet.ucla.edu

These grants are made possible by the generous philanthropy of the Sprouts Collective and the UCLA CTSI.